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Cambridge Design Research Studio

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Design Fellows Ingrid Schroeder Joris Fach

Academic responsible Professor Koen Steemers

Cambridge Design Research Studio (CDRS) is a collaborative institute of design research within the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, UK.

The studio's core focus, the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design, a RIBA/ARB part II masters degree, is a hybrid of independent research through design and a structured technical learning resource. It is designed for students that join us with a distinct area of interest and provides guidelines to their research, access to specialists of various fields relevant to their studies, and a matrix of deliverables that foster an informed body of work. The course retains environmental design and sustainability as its core foci. However we believe these to be essential to all architectural study as they inform everything from spatial experience to an intelligent evaluation of a regional metabolism. The course seeks to better define these terms and how they inform the design process. We see the terms,'environmental' and 'sustainable' as being distinct from one another and providing a twofold structure to the course, the former being directed at the qualitative design of space, and the latter towards a strategic evaluation of a broader web of influence on an urban or regional condition. We have interpreted these as inferring two distinct scales of project and have attached them to the two semesters of study.

The course is structured by one semester focusing on design and detailed analysis, an interim nine month field work period, and a second semester focusing on regional analysis/research. These components provide an opportunity to explore distinct interests within design practice in various settings, whilst offering a sound framework to pursue meaningful research. The two stages of the course address two scales of approach, the first focusing on a specific design response and the second reflecting on the larger impact of this proposal on the strategic reconfiguration of the surrounding context. Ultimately the project work is structured not only to represent and describe a coherent design project but also to form a body of primary source material to support each student's thesis research. Fundamentally the two parts rely completely on one another: research and design.

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