Case study strategies for designers: Teaching integrative data evaluation

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Teaching research methodology and conducting architectural research for years has revealed to the author of this paper that there is noticeable lack of globally established depictions of methods in design research, also called evidence-based design or practice-based research. Partially this is caused by the fact that research carried out by architects and other designers is a somewhat new phenomenon, when compared to many other disciplines, partially by the wide range of subject matters and paradigms in architectural and environmental research. The lack of defined methodology applies particularly to case studies, although those are most commonly employed by designers. In professional jargon, however, the term case study itself seems to refer to anything from a simple ‘precedent study’ to a ‘project description,’ sometimes used even as a synonym for an ‘example.’ Hence, this paper sheds light into the pros and cons of both quantitative and qualitative paradigm from a transdisciplinary perspective, including ontological and epistemological premises of case studies. Special attention is paid to the characteristics of embedded case studies and holistic case studies in terms of their data collection and analysis methods, including conventional surveys, interviews, fieldwork, participatory design, and post occupancy evaluations, but also such novel strategies as memory sketching and thick descriptions. These strategies are, then, examined from the perspective of integrative data evaluation with theoretical sampling, triangulation, pattern-matching logic, and analytical generalization. In other words, the focus is on deep understanding of a case within its complex context, in order to provide means of holistic interpretations of empirical inquiries in real-life contexts. The objective and future contribution of the proposition is to promote the value of research as the basis of design excellence among students and professional practitioners alike, with the mastery of case study method informing their design decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitectural research addressing societal challenges
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the EAAE ARCC 10th International Architectural Research Conference
EditorsM J R Couceiro da Costa, F Roseta, J Pestana Lages, S Couceiro da Costa
Place of PublicationBoca Raton, Florida
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781138029668
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2017
EventEAAE/ARCC 2016 International Architectural Research Conference : Architectural research addressing societal challenges - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 16 Feb 201618 Feb 2016


ConferenceEAAE/ARCC 2016 International Architectural Research Conference
Internet address


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