Fieldwork in ritual reality: A qualitative method in architectural research and education

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Among the various means of architectural research, fieldwork has customarily been a valuable data collection technique, mainly applying the methods of anthropologists to the many interpretations on the meaning of built environment. But what distinguishes architectural fieldwork from that of other disciplines today? One can also ask whether fieldwork in the discipline of architecture has responded to the general paradigm shift from structuralism to post-structuralism in academia? Further, has the concept of “global
village” in the virtual reality of the World Wide Web replaced the need of one’s “own village” in physical reality, as the anthropologist used to call their own study context?
The objective of this paper is to re-examine the role of fieldwork in architectural research, particularly as it relates to the qualitative paradigm and phenomenological “thick" descriptions. It also reflects possibilities in the education of research methods in architecture schools by providing methodological basis for new interpretations. As fieldwork has often been a valuable method in culture-specific studies, the paper looks at innovative research in one specific cultural milieu as an example of its applications. Cases in point are research projects conducted in Japan in which context the location of sacred or secular objects and buildings (or lack of those), as well as the ritual procession of regular Shinto festivals, reveal interesting ways of analyzing the invisible features of these built environments – or the ritual reality. Since the examples deal with interdisciplinary research, these studies embody the definition of architectural fieldwork in comparison to other multi-, cross-, or trans-disciplinary views, thereby expanding the research resources of the discipline of architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ARCC 2015 Conference Architectural Research Centers Consortium
Subtitle of host publicationFUTURE of Architectural Research
EditorsA Aksamija, J Haymaker, A Aminmansour
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9847582-0-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventArchitectural Research Centers Consortium 2015 Research Conference - Chicago, Chicago, United States
Duration: 6 Apr 20159 Apr 2015


ConferenceArchitectural Research Centers Consortium 2015 Research Conference
Abbreviated titleARCC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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