Research and Development

In this course you will explore
research methods, processes and practices
for Spatial Design and their application,
through a research project
chosen and developed by you,
working between the practice of making
and critical writing as a method of research.


        Rebecca Horn, Finger Gloves, 1972


Tinana refers to the actual, main part or core of something, including the self. Whakatinana is to make manifest concepts or ideas, to be able to realize your individual or collective aspirations in tangible form. This concept recognises that the process of actualisation is connected both to an individual’s or group’s aspirations and the framework or structures (social, political, cultural, historical) within which they operate. As a process, whakatinana respects that there will be challenges in the world and that every challenge should be taken seriously and planned for with due caution. Accepting challenges and acknowledging the importance of your support structures, including valuing the contribution of others and thorough preparation, fosters mutual respect.

Research-through-design; thinking as doing;

Spatial Design Research & Development is an intensive research-oriented paper which integrates theoretical investigations and design experiments, through a reflexive process of embodied thinking as doing (Grosz, 2001).

“[This] project […] is in part about thinking, about how to think, to think while making or rather while doing: to think as doing.”

Elizabeth Grosz, 2001, pp. 57-62 .
Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space.
Cambridge & London: MIT Press.

“Thinking-through-making is a process in which making and thinking alternate back and forth all the time, in rapid iterations. The making or designing could be taking place intuitively. Reflecting on what has been made helps create knowledge and insights.”

Bas Raijmakers & Danielle Arets (Eds.), 2015, p.14.
Strategic creativity series: Thinking through making.
Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Design Academy Eindhoven.

Brief + schedule

See full assignment brief and schedule for 2017 here

Course contacts
Jen Archer-Martin (course coordinator and lecturer)
Dr. Jacquie Naismith (senior lecturer)
Week 1

Recap of Monday session:

  • welcome/intro to fourth year studio
  • intro to course/brief
  • exercise: analysing examples of spatial design R&D projects and extracting:
    • concerns
    • spatiotemporal variables (see whiteboard below)
    • thinking-through-making strategies


Whiteboard from Monday 27 Feb: spatiotemporal variables from analysis of past research projects

For Friday:

  •  set up blog and fill out blog form
  •  make a first blog post as a reflection on the first session – what initial insights/thoughts do you have about what ‘spatial design research’ might mean/be for you (#firstthoughts)
  •  gather visual/material (hard copy) examples of your work over the past few years, plus any key images of particular areas of interest or concern; MAKE a ‘visual map’ or assemblage of this collection of images (document on blog #log #makingwk1)
  •  MAKE a thing (or series of things) that respond to your gathered material, starting to ‘draw out’ any emerging themes, threads or concerns (document on blog #log #makingwk1)



Possible research areas / areas of concern: post-it exercise from Nov. 2016 workshop led by Jen

Recap of Friday session:

  •  ‘tabling’ of Week 1 gathering/making
  •  exercises to draw out ‘concerns’
  •  start to form clusters of common concerns in order to ‘situate’ your research (first ‘S’ of SEED exercise)


Whiteboard from Friday 3 March: emerging concerns and clusters

 For Monday:

  •  make sure you have set up your blog and fill out blog form
  •  reflect on today’s session and identify three key words that capture the concerns of your research as it currently sits (these are just a starting point and will change and evolve!)
    •  post your reflection on your blog (#reflection) – focus on where you feel your research might be situated – this is to give you a starting point for finding communities of discourse and practice
    •  submit your key words via this google form
  •  write a (max 250 word) ‘caption’ or response to your randomly assigned image (images in a folder in the shared google drive) – if you weren’t here or can’t remember your number just pick one at random


Week 2

Recap of Monday session:

  •  sharing ‘captions’ from provocation images
  •  talk from Jacquie on a particular precedent (Diller Scofidio & Renfro’s ‘Synchronising the City’) as an example of how to analyse a precedent to understand the spatiotemporal variables at play
  •  cluster exercise to evaluate the spatiotemporal variables that could be explored or manipulated in relation to the specific areas of concern (link to google doc)
  •  planning ‘makings’ for the week – concerns, variables and strategies


Word cloud from key words (research concerns) submitted via google form at end of Week 1. Emerging clusters at end of Week 1 are: place, people, experience and ecologies.

 For Friday:

  •  at least 3 ‘makings’ (document on blog: #log; bring to ‘table’ for Friday 1pm)
  •  start a search for and review of literature/precedents relevant to your area of concern (post about individual readings/precedents on blog, including a brief summary/response: #journal; keep track of bibliographic references using software like Zotero or Endnote)
  •  in clusters: meet to discuss literature/precedent search; work together to create a visual map of the literature/precedents and the relationships between them
    (are there areas where a lot of research is concentrated? are there intersections between various areas? are there people who support or disagree with one another? what are the connections or differences between people across time and space? are there conversations connected to a particular geographic areas or cultural worldviews?)

Recap of Friday session:

  • presentation of cluster literature search and identification of shared principles and literature
  • review of cluster groups – formation of new clusters Habitats, Event/Space, Urban Place, Community and Wellbeing, Experience
  • re-clustering and re framing of key principles of shared interest
  •  presentation of Makings in new cluster groups- review and group discussion

wk2F-cluster statements

Whiteboard from Friday Week 2 session – cluster statements emerging from discussion around visual maps of initial  literature and precedent research.


 For Monday:

  • reflection on today’s session: cluster statement (reviewed/revised) and individual response
  • update cluster google doc
  • go to something that’s on in Wellington (Performance Arcade, Performing Writing, Cindy Sherman, Parking Day etc…) and draw in response
Week 3

No session on Monday
Use this time to meet as clusters (wherever you want) and keep working on your individual research explorations.

 For Friday:

  • weekly making practice (and #log on blog)
  • weekly reading/writing practice – literature/precedent search and analysis (#journal at least 3 on blog)
  • updated cluster map
  • bring drawings from weekend
Week 4

Recap of Monday session:

  • ethics overview and exercise
  • framing workshop – what is an abstract and what elements go in it?
  • office hours sign-up sheet in google folder
  • some empowering words from The Performance Arcade Audience Handbook by Cara Spooner:
    • trust yourself
    • notice what you notice
    • not knowing is a difficult thing… be okay with not knowing and be okay with how difficult it is
    • surrender
    • allow things to change


Whiteboard from Monday Week 4 session (with remnants from Friday Week 3 – framing and abstract structure/elements.

 For Friday:

  •  weekly making practice (and #log on blog) – something that draws together, or draws from, and takes further, previous makings/explorations > have this ready to table for 1pm
  • weekly reading/writing practice – literature/precedent search and analysis (#journal at least 3 on blog)
  • project framing: title, 3 key words, draft abstract (please make as a google doc)
  • find and bring an example of an abstract from a creative research journal (within your field of interest)

Last modified: March 20, 2017