For your architecture research paper, consider combing through architecture databases and Architecture magazine website articles for interesting developments in the field. For example, some good research paper topics could include the activities of Architecture for Humanity, which is providing refugee shelters; the winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize for architectural designs; or the social experience of architectural enthusiasm.
Architects help refugees
With large populations of refugees from natural disasters and political unrest, places like Haiti, Syria and Lagos, Nigeria have sizeable refugee camps. With the average lifespan of a refugee camp at between 7 and 17 years, they are highly susceptible to disease and violent crime. Architects have a role to play in providing safe and sustainable shelters.
Katherine Allen wrote in “Beyond the Tent: Why Refugee Camps Need Architects (Now More than Ever)” posted in Arch Daily on October 14, 2013: “Indeed, if there’s anyone qualified to consider the long-term when rebuilding in post-disaster situations, it’s architects. And if there’s anyone with a moral obligation to provide safe, affordable, and sustainable shelter, it’s most definitely architects.” Architecture for Humanity, IKEA and others are raising money to provide mobile health clinics and design new types of refugee shelters that last longer than tents.
Japanese architect wins 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize
The 2014 Pritzker Prize went to Shigeru Ban, 56, of Japan. He was recognized for his innovative design, experimental use of common materials and humanitarian efforts erecting temporary relief shelters after the Kobe earthquake and Rwanda ethnic conflict. He also worked on the Centre Pompidou-Metz modern art museum in France. The Pritzker jury remarked about Ban: “He is able to see in standard components and common materials, such as paper tubes, packing materials or shipping containers opportunities to use them in new ways,” reported Jocelyn Noveck in “Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban Wins Monumental Pritzker Prize,” in Huffington Post on March 25, 2014.
Ban explained that when he became an architect, he was disappointed that architects tend to work for wealthy and privileged clients. “So I thought that architects needed to have more of a social role. I thought we could use our experience and our knowledge for people who need help in a natural or man-made disaster. Even something like temporary housing, we can make more comfortable and more beautiful,” Ban said in Noveck’s article.
On a lighter note, there are those who believe that people can enjoy the experience of the built environment through communication and circulation of collective passions for architecture that involve visiting, exploring, understanding and preserving buildings and architectural histories.
Ruth Craggs and Hilary Geoghegan explained in the article “Architectural Enthusiasm: Visiting Buildings with the Twentieth Century Society” in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, September-October, 2013, that this concept is called “architectural enthusiasm.” Activities such as exploring and knowing the built environment put an emphasis on “visiting sites, emotional engagements that occur within shared interest groups and on an individual basis, and an acknowledgement that often people take part in several of these activities, with each, in different ways, influencing how architecture is understood, valued, and physically or politically remade,” wrote the authors.
Resources for architecture information
American Institute of Architects, www.aia.org – a professional organization for architects, offers continuing education, a career center for job networking and nationwide meetings and presentations. AIA publishes Architect magazine with information on designs, projects, products, business and awards.
International Architecture Database, www.eng.archinform.net – offers records of building projects from architects and planners worldwide. Search by architect, name of the project, town or keyword.
Architecture Daily web magazine, www.archdaily.com – is an online source for architecture news, projects, products, events, interviews and design competitions.
World Architecture Community, www.worldarchitecture.org – provides an independent global forum and database for contemporary architecture from all countries of the world.
For more information, check out Questia’s Art and Architecture library.
What other topics would make good subjects for an architecture research paper? Tell us your suggestions in the comments.