Research and Development

In this course you will explore spatial design research questions and the processes and practices to investigate them through a design project chosen and developed by you.



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 Stream for brief and schedule

Course contacts
Assoc. Prof. Sven Mehzoud (course coordinator)
Dr. Jacquie Naismith (senior lecturer)
Week 1

Monday session:

  • welcome/intro
  • intro & Research Topics and Practice Arenas workshop – what is your practice what are your research interests?
  • Link to Blog List Sign up

LINK to readings:


Tasks Monday – Friday:


    Introduction;  Brainstorming spatial practices and research topics Introduction of lenses / practice arenas;  Research into practice arenas / lenses and individual research topics alongside portfolio presentation; 

    Aims: get to know communities of research/practice – identify a specific research concern

Week 2

Monday session:

  • Present 300 word statement and three sites
  • Discussion on topics in groups and individually, also in relation to sites in order to determine final site by Friday

Tasks Monday – Friday:


    For Monday develop a statement (300w) that positions your research topic/questions within one or more practice arenas / lenses & framing guided by your individual research, readings and key authorities; Identify three sites in Wellington City that can serve as your site for the introductory project; 5 keywords (good for researching); begin using Zotero for bibliographical references – text and image..

    For Friday  identify a single site and document through traditional means – site plan, images, history. Keep refining your research topic. How can a site in Wellington further clarify this topic.

    How does the site, its community, the particular politics, its architecture, interior, urban, greenbelt, rural or coastal conditions move your ideas from abstract ambitions and aims to a concrete situation


Independent (for Monday Week 3 – 1pm):

  • For Monday (Week3) review and rewrite a statement (300w) 
  • Document your site if you haven’t done so yet.
  • Research the contemporary and historical context. Consider site, structure and people in relation to your research questions as you develop your research statement
  • Support your statement t through referenced key ideas and possibly 1 creative project/design that you have researched to date (another 300-600w).
  • A3 pin up of text with images


Week 3


Tasks Monday – Friday:


    Introduction of three processes: performatives, narratives, material archaeology followed by a brief review of current state of research – A3 pin up and identification of first testing process for Friday.

    Independent (for Friday 1pm):

    • Have undertaken one process to analyse site –  articulate in writing and through creative practice what you have found out 
    • Undertake a precedent case study of a spatial practice that you are envisaging and that addresses process, or/and your research topic – 300 w and images 
    • Continue to read and write; and summarise key findings as relevant to your statement.

    Independent for Monday Week 4

    Present your framed enquiry (Part 1) consisting of: 

    -your statement (300w) and 900w of summarised key texts; 
    -images and one case study;
    -site documentation and one mapping/process  test; 
    -reference list. 

    Present this as Part 1 all together – digitally – begin to format into A3 or A4 document, and through other artefacts/installation depending on your process test outcomes.

    Consider how what you perhaps insert into the space, reveals something about the space – that may be for analytical purposes or speculations on a future or changed/transformed condition.


Last modified: March 13, 2020