Research Methods introduces different aspects of collaboration around architecture practice. The research methods workshop explores conceptual elaborations and practical applications that support collaboration across the different stages of a construction project. Students experience the challenges of constructing collaboration, working in teams to coordinate and develop integrated design proposals. The group projects challenge current understandings and stimulate critical reflection about the means and ends of their collaborative practice.

Workshop Groups


Technologies for Post-Pandemic Cities

With the pandemic unfolding in the past two years, we all witnessed an unprecedented technological change in urban life. We began to share the city with a whole new range of technologies (from temperature-measuring robots and disinfecting machines to various apps and contactless technologies). These new technological developments hugely accelerated by the pandemic gradually captivated the popular imagination. Today, increasingly, the ways in which we experience the city are mediated through these new technologies and the ‘real-time’ data that they gather and provide.

In this workshop the students gained extensive knowledge on research methods from Science and Technology Studies (STS) which helped them to explore the role of technology in urban life. Drawing on first-hand ethnographic observations, mapping and secondary materials (archives, news reports, images), the students studied a specific recent technological development, its history, genealogy, existent variations and their spatial spread. They followed and interviewed different groups of urban dwellers, analysed their spatial practices and the different modalities of technological use. This allowed an informed critical reflection on the impact of technologies on social life in the city and inspired a range of design ideas for technological inventions and interventions in the post-pandemic city.

Dylon Kay, Khadijah Binti Norizan, Shola Akinyele, Yuexuan Meng, Chenkai Shao, Maeve Lee, Kehan Zhou, Qipei Fang, Chuyue Jiang, Muhammad Hazazi Bin Mohd Hanafi, Emmanuel Chimere Eze, Brian Cox, Nirupa Subramanian, Ani Nadirah Binti Anuar.


Campus Architecture: Science and the City

This MArch course is conceived as an investigation of the many ways that the buildings throughout the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University campuses mediate the practices of knowledge creation and dissemination. The course looked to build an understanding of the various generations of development found throughout the campus and the spatial logics that underpinned their design. It questioned: how is architecture used as a tool to attract students, staff and funding (Gunel, 2016); to encourage the formation of interdisciplinary communities (Thrift, 2006); and to imbue both researchers and students with new identities (Geiryn, 1999; Kaji-O’Grady and Smith, 2018)? Drawing on the well-known ethnographic studies of laboratory buildings in the 1980s (e.g. Knorr-Cetina, 1982; Latour and Woolgar, 1986), the course encouraged students to explore the various spaces around us on campus, asking how their spatial configurations influence the practices they contain and, ultimately, the impact these spaces have on research and education.

Ryan Yu Whye Choong, Zherui Liu, Yulin Jian, David James Williams, Zherui Liu, Jayakody Arachchige Anjani Pasanka Perera, Mohit Vasudeo Patil, Zihao Huang, Sanjana Shome, Jiandong Yu, Weiyi Wang, Aye Eindra Lin, Grace Thomas, Alisa Wang, Anjali Biju, Mary Davidson, Hannah Goodrich.


Housing, community and urban regeneration

This research module invites students to consider how planners, architects and residents conceive of community and home through the design and lived-experience of neighbourhoods and houses. The aim of this module is to learn what can be taken from past and existing urban regeneration projects to help inform the design of future homes and communities.

The course focuses specifically on housing-led regeneration, which has been a mainstay of urban policy in the UK for over 50 years, aimed at addressing widening inequalities in many post-industrial neighbourhoods. Students were introduced to interdisciplinary analyses of urban regeneration, bringing together theories from the social sciences and architecture to understand the changing needs of urban communities.

The module provided lectures, workshops and discussions, as well as first-hand experience of core research methods. The following questions will be explored: How has community been conceived of, through the design of neighbourhoods and homes? How have changes to the physical environment impacted on residents’ sense of belonging, place and community? What happens when the intentions of architects meet residents’ everyday spatial practices, over time? What lessons can be taken from past and existing urban redevelopment projects to help inform the design of future communities?

Jiawen Li, Rajvi Amarkumar Shah, Lihong Xing, Nurliyana Amiratulafiqah Binti Khusni, Esha Emmanuel Selamat Jati, Akash Joshi, Davide Di Ceglie, Janhavi Narayanaswamy, Jiantao Zhang, Yukan Zhu, Yanjun Liu, Lateefat Alimi, Seth Daker, Chloe Roberts, Keating Walters, Chloe Wing Yee.


Decolonising the Bathroom: taking Kira ‘round the world

This course is built on the premise that we need to study and understand practices as a precondition to ‘good’ architectural design. Social practice is embedded within complex and dynamic systems of objects, relationships and flows. The aim of this course is to develop a methodological toolkit for data collection and analysis that can be applied to the study of any social practice. Our focus in this course is on the practices of sanitation and personal hygiene.

Tong Dai, Xze Shean Andrea Go, Zichen Yang, Lauren Lok-Men Ngo, Isabella Robinson, Kirstin Kher Ting Leong, Pui Yin Tang, Hanis Nabihah Binti Ridzuan, Keyuan Zhang, Nurul Izzati Binti Ahmad Jamal, Jasmine Cornish, Matthew Norris, Muhammad Hassan Asyraf Bin Mohd Iqbal, Alice Allen, Ziyan Chen, Ningmei Jiang


Ocean as Archive

This research methods workshop focuses on architectural and urban relationships to bodies of water. Drawing on the wider framework of oceanic humanities, the workshop asks how centring seas, oceans, estuaries and rivers, among other bodies of water, might open up new approaches, questions and perspectives on how we understand built environments. In our current context, thinking with water raises urgent questions around devastating flooding, creeping sea-level rise, and the increasing vulnerability of coastal communities.

Kelly Ka Wai Lui, Ruochen Lu, Yow Hue Tan, Aiman Shabbir Karachiwala, Nur Alisa Akmar Binti Mohd Fadzil, Ammar Hakim Bin Rosdi, Ugne Boskaite, Hugo Lam, Zeyneb Caglar, Adhvaith Gopinath, Holly Watkins, Hannah Fa, Fangxu Zhu, Yiyuan Cao, Christopher Brierley, James Farrimond.


British Architects and Builders in West Africa: Archives, Architecture, Empire

This course interrogates the role that archives play in fashioning and bounding the entwinned disciplines of architecture and architectural history, through an analysis of the work of British architects working in West Africa during the period of political decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ho Ching Chan, Violet Sheppard, Ellie Watson, Simran Minhas, Alkim Uzunonat, Doga Esen, Gwen Crasta, Vidal Jackson, Oluwafemi Olateju, Hafsa Suleiman Adamu, Francis Richardson, Chi Zhang, Cosmin Dobrea, Margaret Hows, Dongxiao Li


Postmodern London: Historiographical Methods for Investigating the Recent Past, 196X to 199X

From the late 1960s to sometimes in the 1990s, and following the demise of the Modern Movement, architects from Europe and America (amongst others) increasingly started to use historical references, colour and ornament, while aiming at communication through a polysemic architectural production. In resistance of high culture and aiming at the creation of more meaningful built environment, architects reinvent themselves, using diverse modalities of reference such as nostalgia, satire, parody, melancholia, allegory, irony and pastiche. They spawned a body of architecture based on a set of ideas mostly associated with the free-market economic policy known today as neoliberalism.

This workshop aims to assess the historical value of the postmodern period, researching its manifestations in the city of London. Looking at concrete realisations and tangible traces of postmodernism left in the English Capital, we analysed the broader cultural and socio-political reality of Britain and scrutinised the different debates, institutions, medias and factions that composed London's architectural scene between the 1960s and the 1990s.

Juliette Floch, Qihao Ren, Jerusha Miriam Oommen, Tianjun Tan, Beatrice Tartaglini, Stefina Stephen Palliyil, Dominic Stewart, Shotaro Oniki, Samuel Watts, Katerina Loukaidou, Ana-Maria-Georgiana Popescu, Vaishnavi Reddy Pinnamreddy, Tak Lau.



Arguably the task of modern architecture over the past 250 years is to negotiate the flows – people, animals, materials, money, data, energy – through buildings, cities, and across territory. This course will use this circulation and its ‘circuits’ to explore architecture in the long nineteenth century (1789–1914).

Ya Fu, Neerzari Sureshkumar Patel, Mastura Raiha Binti Ramlan, Nur Zarifah Binti Zainal, Amelia Sarles, Adwiteya Kasliwal, Parwati Patil, Alessandro Porchietto, Yixiang Cheng, Mengxuan Liu, Ching Wei Leong, Mirta Maria Silvestri, Maxwell Willis, Padmaja Reddy.


Logistical Architecture

The workshop examined the architecture and politics of urban logistics. Focusing on Greater Manchester and the North West, the workshop explored both the consolidation and opposition to forms of expansive logistical urbanisations. The students investigated the multiplication and spread of specific infrastructural typologies, from warehousing facilities to fulfilment centres and specialized zones, associated with the logistical turn. They traced and visualized the set of responses put forward by urban collectives and public agencies, investigating how logistics is underpinning novel design strategies.

Muhammad Luqman Bin Ismadi, Kulsoom Qazi, Joseph Higginbotham, Rhiannon Woodford, Alice Maset, Jonathan Burtan, Dewan Chowdhury, Yuxin Teng, Rebecca Clarkson, Mohammed Amin Patel, William Pelling, Daryl Kin Kit Goon, Faezeh Tahannazif.


Infrastructuring the City

This Research Methods Workshop explores a relationship long overlooked in landscape and architectural theory: that of infrastructure and the city. Using infrastructure as a lens, the workshop aims to address the processes that take place for infrastructure to be placed within, adapted to, and co-exist with its urban environment. We move away from infrastructure as a passive noun, to “infrastructuring” (Merriman 2016) as a verb that denotes a set of ongoing actions and practices that not only take place in space and time but are also productive of space and time.

How do we theorise the very nature of space produced through and with infrastructures? We understand landscape and cityscape through their coexistence, both shaped by non-human and human forces: water, vegetation, energy, transportation, buildings, creating and created blue, green, and grey infrastructures; both visible and invisible. We call for new contributions that address landscape and cityscape not as backdrops for infrastructural production and appropriation, but as the very focus of study.

More specifically, in this workshop we explored the following themes/relations:

  • Nature and infrastructure
  • Decay, repair, and maintenance
  • Infrastructure and mobility
  • Materiality and infrastructure
  • Megastructures and their controversies

Students (MArch)
Huimin Zhu, Karolina Olszewska, Amira Batrisyia Binti Rasha Azaldin, Pei-Ying Chen, Natasha Ganotaki, Zemao Liu, Zhe Chen, Yueran Zheng, Yuwei Qiao, Jonathan Mcvinnie, Christian Brook Barnes, Ashwiin Shrinivaas Kalyanraman, Surya Prakash Siva.

Students (MLA)
Mariya Mehboobkhan Pathan, Jessica Peach, Treicy Javiera Isamitt Letelier, Ji Haw Chi, Ankita Rani, Huaijin Jian, Jiatong Zhang, Reem Talal M Bakir.



This research methods workshop aimed to reflect upon the transformative impact of the ‘digital’ within design paradigms and the tectonics of architecture. The focus was on the ontology of design and the development, formation and materialisation of architecture.

The workshop explored architectural design as research method through the model of ‘design as learned skill’. Theories and frameworks in architectural design were reviewed and employed to create and analyse original architectural design work. Digital design and fabrication techniques were leveraged to reveal opportunities for new architectures through creative experimentation and open-ended studies, rather than beginning with problem-based design approaches. These initial design studies creatively explored the generative and prototyping stages of design before being situated within architectural and digital design theory.

Individual projects respond to design research themes or starting points that connected design theory, digital and analogue fabrication, architectural tectonics and spatial effects. New 3D printing technologies and materials were explored and applied to traditional multiple-piece cored silicone moulding processes to test for possible efficiencies and limitations. Repeated component systems of Erwin Hauer’s Modular Constructivism and Buckminster Fuller’s fly’s eye dome were elaborated through advanced digital modelling.

James Rule, Zitong Niu, Muhammad Najib Bin Rossaidi, Binyang Zi, Mohith Kiran Reddy, Yu Jie Frederick Ng, Muhammad Haziq Bin Rosle, Yining Zheng, Jiaqi Zhang, Rosemary Clowes, Guy Pope, Kalpak Manoj Kala, Radu Neagoe, Amirah Batrisyia Binti Azman, Siddharth Tiwari, Leila Hooshmand.


Invent and Discover: Literary Imagination in Design Research

This Research Methods workshop is positioned at the intersection of architecture, art and creative writing. Taking a collaborative, interdisciplinary and experimental approach, students reflected on the MSA’s recent move to a new building. Using a mixture or architectural and artistic methods as well as creative writing, students investigated and reflected on a live situation when a relationship between a community and a building was forged, inevitably influencing, and shaping both in the process.

Chenyang Peng, Ebrahim Variava, Ei Ei Khaing, Israel Chika Chesa, Jiawen Qin, Nikhil Sharad Bhagwat, Omar Arif, Rowdah Charbak, Runquan Tan, Sanjidah Chowdhury, Shanice Langford, Sharifah Adani Binti Syed Albakri, Syarifah Alysha Binti Syed Abd Rahman, Yifan Si, Yiqun Tang, Ziyi Shao.


It Starts With A Kiss

Adaptive reuse starts with a kiss. It is a sensory process. A coming together of two allied but not identical individual surfaces that flex and deform, soften and align, to create a union of convergence. This research-through-model-making project explored and reconstructed specific details of chosen buildings. The relationship between old and new was considered, the junctions, juxtapositions and joints were investigated, the qualities and characteristics of specific materials were weighed up, and the appropriateness of this to the agender of the architect was explored. This research was represented through carefully constructed high quality models.

Xiaoming Dai, Reemaz Hassan Mohamed Bashir, Finnley Morris, César Vicencio Vega, Xinyi Li, Samuel Diamond, Alina Maniukhina, Chin Yiu Yeung, Magdeline De Witt, Shimiao Zhang, Nazifah Binti Muhammad Abdullah, Junjie Tao, Xin Shu, Ahmad Hariz Bin Zahidi, Hoay Qing Chow, Alexandra Raper Rumoroso, Yu Xiao, Matthew Stitch, Faizal Akalwaya.


Cities and Urban Heritage

The move towards a smart city is currently a trend for major cities in the world. Half of the world's population is currently residing in cities, and it is expected that this number will rise to 70 % by 2050. More and more people are moving from rural to urban areas which increasingly poses new problems in the city. Therefore, future cities will require new design principles to face their urban challenges and problems such as pollution, poverty, poor environment, land use management, greenhouse gas emissions and socio-economic and environmental risks.

Manchester city centre is considered a significant part of the city that contains many heritage buildings and a unique traditional urban context going back hundreds of years. Thus, This MArch course will consider Manchester city centre as a case study area to assess conservation methods in light of the new principles of smart sustainable urbanism. The students will also investigate new research methods to assess the intersection between ‘Heritage’ and ‘Smart Sustainable Urbanism’. The workshops will try to create new methods to engage the city’s stakeholders in the processes of future development (bottom-up methods).

Ali Al-Siwife, Tengku Nurul Nasfakhira Binti Tengku Nasrudin, Norsyazwina Binti Jamal, Gizem Atalik, Wenkai Zhang, Evelyna Hadass, Izzat Hakimi Bin Abd Ghani, Thomas Stevenson, Yuen Lam Lee, Lauritz Constantin Kobor, Katie Grabowski, Janos Mark Kovacs-Biro, Pragnya Thakur, Muhammad Faiz Hakimi Bin Abd Latib, Ardavan Shirzadi, Yihuan Xu, Ahmed Mohamed Ali.