12 Pages


In the 1950s, Leslie Martin established the parameters of contemporary architectural research in the UK by reforming fi rst the Cambridge School of Architecture and then the pattern of British architectural education.1 He set out to affi rm two research methods in architecture, with the intention of establishing a third. Research in applied science and in history were emphasised initially, securing credibility for architectural researchers among other university academics. Martin’s longer-term aim was, however, that these two methods would be overtaken by a third approach to research which would be distinctively architectural. For Martin, coming to academic work from the design studio of the London County Council, this new research involved developing a science of architectural form that, he hoped, could optimise the functional performance of particular building types.2 By the 1970s, the limitations of this reductive science of form grew increasingly apparent, as phenomenology and cultural theory suggested other – more situated, more committed – ways of appreciating architecture, and indicated problems with the idea of the all-knowing professional architect.3 With these criticisms, Martin’s particular ‘third way’ withered. However, it left behind his question about what distinctively architectural research might be like. Martin asked what it is that architects – with their particular skills and methods – can contribute to the intellectual commonwealth.