a_ku Forschung a_ku Forschung a_ku Forschung

Caendia Wijnbelt


Sketching Mindscapes. 
Place and reflexivity in architectural design

Overarching perspective  |  The aim of this PhD-project is to explore reflexive modes of operation as means to uncover intentional (yet rarely noticed) as well as underlying (and often intuitive) facets of architectural practice. Processes inherent to perception and interpretation of place are investigated, thereby generating research and potential design tools. This, in turn, creates a framework for the development of transferable knowledge skills. 

Topic  |  As part of the EU-funded network ’TACK: Communities of Tacit Knowledge. Architecture and its ways of knowing‘, this project hones into reflexive attitudes towards place in contemporary architecture. These are explored as generative and mediating lenses for design. Perspectives which play an important role in place interpretation can render visible, express and transfer embedded, embodied and enacted knowing. Furthermore, architects and architectural practices may develop and evolve their qualitative toolsets when designing in relation to place. With these aspects in mind, the research seeks to trace obvious and hidden components of place interpretation found in the design settings. Individual imprints and collective alignments, creative projections, everyday processes and relations are all deeply nested in architectural practice –– both in specific instances of the design routine and in broader contexts. The project activates the iterative research practice of collecting, structuring and analysing these components, together with the interplay of different points of view and ways of acting. This leads to reflexive approaches that ground different modes of practice in research and design. Overarching impulses for answers to site- and culture specific questions within our shared, living environment are hereby promoted, creating proposals for future habitat.

Structure  |  A discourse analytical approach as well as a phenomenological hermeneutic research practice is proposed. On the one hand, past yet relevant as well as current and situated discourses are observed and related to each other, creating overviews on the topics of place and reflexivity. The dissertation furthers this process by examining generated terms and lenses on places and place interpretation by design, then extracting their reflexive features. This shapes an evolving taxonomy for the project. On the other hand, participatory observation secondments, further dialogues and on-site studies stimulate interpretative approaches. Here mapping, photographing, collecting/curating, drawing, and other forms of sensorial/projective recording are used.  This explores a way of keeping trace, threaded together through the iteration of attempt and reassessment. In so doing, a plurality of reflexive relations to places in contemporary architectural settings can be uncovered, differentiated and proposed. Together, these two research approaches aim to create at a third stage a new reading of possibilities afforded by the set of tools known as ‘sketching mindscapes’. This opens to new bridges between design and research where each enhances each other, simultaneously reaching beyond the architectural discipline and widening to the creative field as a whole.