The Research 1: Methods workshop is a taught programme introducing first year master students to research in architecture, developing methodological and conceptual capabilities that are applicable to the disciplines of architecture. The subject of the different workshops reflects the symbiosis between design practice and history and theory, and allows for scholarship within individual specialisms to be placed within a deeper understanding of architecture as a whole. The workshops are developed through a series of weekly meetings and intensive working sessions. Research is here understood as a broad umbrella within the discipline of architecture and can be conducted through a set of knowledge and a series of tools and apparatuses for inquiry – from diagramming and mapping to model making and from to archival research to critical reading and oral history. Each Research 1: Methods workshop is assessed by the submission of a portfolio of words and images that includes both group and individual work.

This year students were given the choice of 11 workshops:

  • RM0 Hard and Disagreeable Labour
  • RM1 New Choreographies for the Laboratorised City
  • RM2 The Gift of Architecture
  • RM3 Filmic Architecture: Hapticity and Embodiment
  • RM4 Material Histories of Architecture
  • RM5 Control and Display (Test and Trace): Mapping the Bodies of Manchester
  • RM6 User Representations in Architecture
  • RM7 A Worldwide Book: Charles Jencks and The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, 1977-1991
  • RM8 Prefigurative Architectures: Municipalism, Infrastructures and Logistics during the Pandemic
  • RM9 The Landscapes and Architecture of Post-War Infrastructure: Coal
  • RM10 Transdisciplinary Urbanism: Designing Infrastructures Under Covid-19
  • RM11 Architectures of Gender



Hard and Disagreeable Labour

Named after a quotation from John Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing, this additional workshop was run for students whose intended Erasmus exchanges had been disrupted by restrictions around Covid and revived one of the original workshops. Based on workshop leader Ray Lucas’ ongoing research into architectural drawing and other inscriptive practices, this workshop contends that drawing is a valid research method, a way of knowing the world equivalent to the academic text and other forms of knowledge production. Participants in the workshop would produce a drawn biography or catalogue, discussing their workflows and what the meanings of the drawings are.


New Choreographies for the Laboratorised City

This course invited students to reflect on the unprecedented laboratorisation of urban space witnessed during the Covid-19 global pandemic. They gained methodological skills to trace and scrutinize the transformations of pandemic cities and architectural typologies, as well as the changes in the traditional spatial conventions of urban life. Studying closely a typology of their choice for 3 months (the library, the market, the public square, etc.), they produced an Ethnographic-Sketch-Folio based on observation and secondary materials. Examining the new technologies, pictorial language, citizens’ behaviour and politics allowed them to speculate on the role of the architect in a post-Covid era.

The Gift of Architecture

This course focused on gifted buildings, from 19th century philanthropic donations, through the 20th century welfare states, colonial and postcolonial developmentalism, buildings that circulated in state-socialist gift economies, and the ways in which secular and religious gift-giving shapes urbanisation today. By discussing the politics, economy, and aesthetics of gift-giving, we studied their impact on the designs, programs, materialities, construction, and uses of buildings across the world, including Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The course resulted in an online database of gifted buildings, with the use of which students curated four virtual exhibitions.


Filmic Architecture: Hapticity and Embodiment

Filmic Architecture returns for it’s sixth iteration in 2020-21. Students are asked to select a director/film-maker and to conduct a series of graphic experiments with the work. A series of tasks are set: reverse-engineer a storyboard from a selection of scenes; draw the plans of key locations; diagrams of montage and movement within the film, examinations of soundscape and narrative structure, questions of spectatorship and the pro-filmic event. Students are introduced to a wide range of film theories and practices, discussing the potential of narrative and characterisation in architecture as well as the overlaps between cinematic and architectural theories. Students are then asked to design a house for their chosen director, build a model, and to make a short film of this house.


Material Histories of Architecture

RM4 “Material Histories of Architecture” studied building materials in a transdisciplinary perspective, since the Anthropocene, a challenge to the humanities and to practice, requires rethinking our relationship to energy regimes and the material world. A material perspective, by linking construction site to extraction site and production site, makes commodity chains a topic, opening up architecture's focus to broader political geological aspects, and related issues such as social and environmental justice.


Control and Display (Test and Trace): Mapping the Bodies of Manchester

This Research Method workshop explored whether the control and display of bodies might be evident in the architecture and urbanism of Manchester. It focused initially on archival research using maps from the University of Manchester Special Collection, which were analysed in combination with other historical material, architectural plans, legislation, interviews, large datasets, and academic work from various other disciplines. Research situated the issues raised by our recent experiences into longer historical trajectories, in order to examine how attitudes to bodies might be legible in building and city fabric, and how these have been changed over time.


User Representations in Architecture

In our modern, capitalist society, architects rarely have the opportunity to engage with those who will occupy their buildings. Architects’ clients are often building contractors, speculative developers or public bodies, rather than individuals who will inhabit the completed buildings. This can make it difficult for architects to understand building users’ needs and aspirations. Drawing on Akrich and Latour’s concept of user representations and scripts, the course explored strategies for understanding the spatial requirements of unknown users, who might differ from the architect in terms of age, gender, class and ethnicity. These approaches were applied in short design projects.


A Worldwide Book: Charles Jencks and The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, 1977-1991

This research-through-modelmaking project investigated the relationship between context and building, studied how this can generate architectural difference, explored how contemporary architectural design can exploit this disparity, considered how this can be scrutinised through modelmaking, and revealed the findings through a collection of rigorously researched and methodically developed, beautifully constructed models.

The interpretive models were exhibited in the Benzie Gallery, and will be published as an integral element within the forthcoming publication, Remember Reveal Construct: Reflections upon the Contingency, Usefulness and Emotional Resonance of Architecture, Buildings and Context (Sanderson & Stone, Routledge 2021).

The buildings explored through the workshop were: The Prada Foundation (OMA Architects, 2015); Munster City Library (Bolles Wilson, 1993); Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia (Lina Bo Bardi, 1982); Universitia Luigi Bocconi (Grafton Architects, 2008); Red House (Tony Fretton, 2001); Jazz Campus (Buol & Zünd, 2014); The MAC (Hall McKnight, 2013); Renovation of Captains House (Vector Architects, 2017); and Warrandyte Police Station (Kerstin Thompson Architects, 2007).


Prefigurative Architectures: Municipalism, Infrastructures and Logistics during the Pandemic

The workshop examined the architecture and politics of urban logistics. During the pandemic, the spatialities and materialities that sustain the distribution of goods, knowledge and people, were made visible. The conflicts surrounding the governance over procurement networks were made explicit. The workshop focused on the municipal responses to the logistical struggles prompted by the pandemic. The pandemic fostered a problematisation of how urban networks are governed and how are the infrastructures that sustain and reproduce the urban scale, organized and distributed. The groups explored prefiguration as a design tactic, seeking to advance logistical alternatives to consolidate municipal agendas.


The Landscapes and Architecture of Post-War Infrastructure: Coal

This unit is part of an AHRC funded research project, ‘Landscapes of Post-War Infrastructure: Culture, Amenity, Heritage and Industry’. Post-graduate landscape and architecture students worked together to understand the interconnected landscapes of extraction, power production and environmental amelioration through the case studies of infrastructural sites within the Yorkshire coal field. The focus of the unit was to understand and use a variety of methods to interrogate the history and present of these sites, and to contextualise these histories in the broader questions of political and social history. The unit relied on archival research that was made possible by our collaborators, the Museum of English Rural Life, Historic England, the National Coal Mining Museum and the Yorkshire Film Archive. Students made films, models and case study reports.


Transdisciplinary Urbanism: Designing Infrastructures Under Covid-19

Public toilets play a key role in the transmission and rapid spread of COVID-19. In this course, we developed context-specific and user-friendly guidance for the design of public toilets that pose minimal risk for those who use and maintain them.

Students were introduced to the notion of infrastructure and why it matters for public health. The focus was on formal and informal, service-based and physically networked sanitation. Methods of relevance studied in this course included systematic literature review and autoethnography, grounded theory’s constant comparative analysis and more conventional methods of qualitative data analysis.


Architectures of Gender

This research methods workshop offered an interdisciplinary introduction to gender and queer theory. It consisted of two interlinked components: first, reading and discussion of key texts by contemporary thinkers, and, second, research and writing, applying conceptual tools drawn from these texts to the analysis of a specific local site. Short exercises around bibliographic searches, the role of evidence, politics of citation and experimental writing practices introduced participants to feminist and queer research methods to counter dominant modes of knowledge production. Students produced collectively authored ‘site-writings’ that explored aspects of gender and sexuality in relation to particular places within Greater Manchester.