Methodological research in architecture and allied disciplines : philosophical positions, frames of reference, and spheres of inquiry

Salama, Ashraf M. (2019) Methodological research in architecture and allied disciplines : philosophical positions, frames of reference, and spheres of inquiry. International Journal of Architectural Research: Archnet-IJAR, 13 (1). pp. 8-24. ISSN 2631-6862 (

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to contribute an inclusive insight into methodological research in architecture and allied disciplines and unravel aspects that include philosophical positions, frames of reference and spheres of inquiry. Design/methodology/approach - Following ontological and epistemological interpretations, the adopted methodology involves conceptual and critical analysis which is based on reviewing and categorising classical literature and more than hundred contributions in architectural and design research developed over the past five decades which were classified under the perspectives of inquiry and frames of reference. Findings - Postulated through three philosophical positions - positivism, anti-positivism and emancipationist - six frames of reference were identified: systematic, computational, managerial, psychological, person-environment type-A and person-environment type-B. Technically oriented research and conceptually driven research were categorised as the perspectives of inquiry and were scrutinised together with their developmental aspects. By mapping the philosophical positions to the frames of reference, various characteristics and spheres of inquiry within each frame of reference were revealed. Research limitations/implications - Further detailed examples can be developed to offer discerning elucidations relevant to each frame of reference. Practical implications - The study is viewed as an enabling mechanism for researchers to identify the unique particularities of their research and the way in which it is pursued. Originality/value - The study is a response to a glaring dearth of cognisance and a reaction to a growing but confusing body of knowledge that does not offer a clear picture of what research in architecture is. By identifying key characteristics, philosophical positions and frames of reference that pertain to the research in architecture and associated disciplines, the findings represent a scholastic endeavour in its field.