Current Issue

cover spool issue evidence & method

Design and Method in Architectural Research: From Objective Quantification to Material Speculation
8 articles / 132 pages
ISBN: 978-90-833861-5-7

Issue editors Lara Schrijver Frank van der Hoeven

Published: 2023-12-24


  • This issue of SPOOL introduces a new thread: ‘Method and Design’, titled “Design and Method in Architectural Research: From Objective Quantification to Material Speculation”. The issue explores the conventional understanding of method through both theoretical contributions and visual essays. The theoretical contributions discuss methodology, material practice, studio approaches, or design principles. The visual essays are more experimental, allowing for design proposals or artistic expressions that explore specific methods, depict scenarios, or articulate a material logic.


  • The potential of implicit architectural knowledge extends beyond the realm of sciences and technology. It is worthwhile to examine its role in art, artistic practices, and artistic knowledge. This article explores several practical examples from art and architecture, spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. These examples shed light on artistic practices that, apart from enhancing designerly qualities and fostering a reflexive approach, may have a significant research impact in architecture. The methods, processes, and topics of these examples are examined, and their potential for critical...

  • In this paper, we piece together threads of communicative processes between residents, architects, and other parties, as found in the lists and letters of the archive of the Byker Redevelopment in Newcastle Upon Tyne (1968-83). Documents that are usually discarded or neglected by architectural researchers - from a stack of various papers documenting residents’ lists of complaints, evaluative papers such as an audit report, and architects’ memos, to a resident’s letter of complaint - enable us to reconstruct, first, how a mainstream practice collected and filed residents’ experiences and...

  • This essay delves into the installation designed by Hans Hollein for the Künstlerhaus facade in Vienna in 1985. It serves as an illustrative case of material speculation in architecture, particularly regarding the incorporation of ‘historical’ elements in contemporary architectural practice. Through a close reading of this installation, realized in the context of the exhibition ‘Traum und Wirklichkeit, Wien 1870-1930’ (Dream and Reality, Vienna 1870-1930), I discuss how such speculation entails the physical replication of carefully chosen ‘historical’ forms and their...

  • This article explores the pivotal role of design as a decision-making tool within multi-stakeholder collaborations, focusing on the early phases of the Rotterdam Central Railway Station and its surroundings project. Spanning from 1996, when it gained National Key Project status, to 2007, when construction commenced, this period precedes the preliminary design, during which the design process becomes the primary method of collaboration among multiple stakeholders, including designers and clients involved in the station area’s development.

    After introducing the post-war...

Visual Essays

  • Ellen Verbiest, Julie Marin, Bruno De Meulder, Andrew Vande Moere

    Comics are a known method to visually link characters to context through time. This article explores the medium of comics to untangle stakeholder dynamics in the context of a complex theme such as circularity of the built environment.

    Circularity of the built environment tailors concepts of circular economy to the field of construction and urban development. Relying mostly on optimization strategies, context-specific characteristics such as stakeholder agency and spatial preconditions are often disregarded as resources in the design of circularity projects. This results in...

  • Ruben Valdez, Lucia Jalon Oyarzun, Dieter Dietz, Malcolm Onifade, Aurele Pulfer

    The laboratory ALICE (Atelier de la Conception de l’Espace) at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) advances a comprehensive approach to data-based drawing oriented towards architectural and urban co-design processes. This drawing methodology has been key in the contributive design process they have applied over the last seven years, covering a range of scales and contexts, both within the public and private spheres. 

    Contribution has become a relational strategy that unites a diverse range of participants, each hailing...

  • This article focuses on two methods employed in the selection, interpretation, and representation of diverse source materials for developing alternative biographies for my ancestral landscape - Nanhai district in the Pearl River Delta in southern China. These biographies aim to approach Nanhai from a long view of continual transformation, as opposed to prevalent readings of the region that focus on the striking spatial contrasts and large-scale developments that have only come about in recent decades. 

    The chronological reading explores a...

Field Notes

  • Peder Anker, Mitchell Joachim

    This article reviews the eco-social design work of students at the Gallatin School of Individualized Studies at New York University over the last decade. Environmental justice movements and the effects of global warming pose significant challenges to the architecture of dwellings, landscapes, and urban design communities. In response, students have placed socially and ecologically sensitive projects at the center of their design education. The justifiable moral outrage of our students has prompted us and them to rethink the methods by which we teach and imagine social environmentalism...