University of Newcastle Upon Tyne Postgraduate Studentship
Understanding Buildings: Competing Conceptions of Design and Development
The Latham report on the construction industry emphasised the need for
more effective, collaborative management of the architectural design
process, while the Royal Institute of British Architects has, through a
strategic review of the future role of architects, identified the need
for a stronger interdisciplinary approach to professional training. These
new institutional priorities reflect wider social, economic and
environmental concerns which are transforming professional strategies of
building development. However, our understanding of the process of
building design is currently limited by narrow architectural, planning
and engineering debates which suffer from design, physical or
technological determinism. In this conventional view buildings are
treated as materially similar, technical structures that vary merely in
terms of their appearance and location. In particular this conventional
view misses the ways in which the interplay of design actors -
architects, planners, engineers and other development professionals -
shapes the form and specification of buildings.
This studentship will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to critically
examine how the changing social organisation of the development process
shapes the form, design and specification of buildings. In particular it
will examine how building design is mutually shaped by a range of
development actors; architects, planners, engineers, developers,
investors, agents and occupiers; who possess distinct 'ways of seeing'
buildings and whose different development objectives often lead to
competing design strategies. The studentship will involve; identifying
the role each development actor plays in shaping the design of buildings;
mapping the cultural, organisational, technological and economic contexts
that frame the strategy of each design actor; assessing the relative
influence of each professional grouping on the form, design and
specification of buildings; and charting the inter-play of actors in the
development process. The studentship will draw upon contemporary social
studies of the production of urban form and will involve empirical
case-studies of new building developments. A qualitative methodological
approach will be employed in tracing the design process with
semi-structured interviews designed to unravel the competing strategies
of each development actor. In this way analysis will unpack the
contrasting frames of reference shaping debates around design and
specification choices. Building case-studies will be selected by the
student in three significantly different development locations. The
sectoral focus will be commercial offices because of the range of
development actors involved and the economic and environmental
significance of the office sector.
Applicants will have a background in either urban sociology, human
geography, architecture and planning studies or related areas and a keen
interest in understanding the social construction of the built
environment. Knowledge of architectural design/urban development
processes is desirable but not essential. Applicants should have or
expect to obtain a Master's degree or a First or good Upper Second Class
Honours degree in an appropriate subject.
The studentship will be based in a new Department being formed by the
merger of Architecture and Town and Country Planning. It will be
supervised by Simon Guy who has extensive experience of utilising
qualitative techniques to draw together issues relating to building
design, social processes and urban change. The studentship will also
benefit from wider departmental expertise in the areas of architectural
design, property development and management and the sociology of urban
design from colleagues in the Centre for Urban Technology (CUT) and the
Centre for Research into European Urban Environments (CREUE).
University Studentships are tenable for three years and include a
maintenance grant of #7,000 from September 1998, which is subject to an
annual review, and remission of Home/EU or Excepted Student fees.
(Students who are liable for fees at a higher rate will need to pay the
difference.) Each Studentship has generous support costs and there is
provision to enable students to travel to selected conferences during the
course of the Studentship.
For further information or an informal discussion please contact Simon
Guy, Department of Town and Country Planning, Claremont Tower, University
of Newcastle, NE1 7RU, (Tel: 0191 222 5408; E-mail: [log in to unmask]).
Simon Guy (Senior Research Associate)
Centre for Urban Technology (CUT)
Department of Town and Country Planning, University of Newcastle,
Claremont Tower, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU.
Tel: 0191 222 5408 Fax: 0191 222 8811 E-Mail: [log in to unmask]