Research studio (in architecture)

In a very insightful blogpost entitled "Is there research in the studio?", Kazy Varnelis wonders about "research studios" in architecture. The main issue here is that"such studios invoke analysis rather than design as their method and aim for publication or exhibition as end products". Quoting Turpin Bannister’s “The Research Heritage of the Architectural Profession,”, Varnelis shows how this is not a recent trend, but rather that the architect practice changed and less dealt with that.

"Over the last decade, “research studios” have become common in schools of architecture. Investigating clothing, logistics networks, favelas, malls, airports and cities worldwide, such studios invoke analysis rather than design as their method and aim for publication or exhibition as end products. But as is often the case in architectural education, this pedagogical model has thus far has been little theorized. (...) Research in these kind of studios is architectural in so far as it draws on the processes of information gathering, analysis, and synthesis that an architect undertakes in the early phases of design, utilizing the architect’s skills in structuring visual and verbal communication into a coherent whole."

It's also very interesting to see what sorts of agenda Kazy delineates:

"This, then, is the question that research studios need to address, indeed it is a broader litmus test for architecture|be it post-critical, critical, or otherwise|how does it help us to re-envision the world anew? By this I do not just mean add to the existing condition, either through replication of data, through nonlinear geometries, or exotic materials and structures, but rather through a contribution to knowledge. By its nature, this suggests that we should not go with the flow but rather redirect it utterly, remaking the terrain through which flows travel."

Why do I blog this? Coming from the research side, working in an architecture lab, I am of course very into "systematic process of investigation into the city" but I am wondering as well about how to contribute to architecture. What I found very interesting is the idea of a "research studio", which (at least from the research POV) is a boundary object (between research and architecture). And I definitely find this pertinent, also in terms of methods, goals and explorations.