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Conference Proceeding

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Sarvimaki, M. (2016). Case study strategies for designers: Teaching integrative data evaluation. In M.J.R. Couceiro da Costa, F. Roseta, J. Pestana Lages, & S. Couceiro da Costa (Ed.), Architectural research addressing societal challenges: Proceedings of the EAAE ARCC 10th International Architectural Research Conference (Vol. 2) (pp. 1-7). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC PRess.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




Teaching research methodology and conducting architectural research for years has revealed to the author of this paper that there is noticeable lack of globally established depictions of methods in design re-search, also called evidence-based design or practice-based research. Partially this is caused by the fact that research carried out by architects and other designers is a somewhat new phenomenon, when compared to many other disciplines, partially by the wide range of subject matters and paradigms in architectural and environmental research. The lack of defined methodology applies particularly to case studies, although those are most commonly employed by designers. In professional jargon, however, the term case study itself seems to refer to anything from a simple ‘precedent study’ to a ‘project description,’ sometimes used even as a synonym for an ‘example.’ Hence, this paper sheds light into the pros and cons of both quantitative and qualitative paradigm from a transdisciplinary perspective, including ontological and epistemological premises of case studies. Special attention is paid to the characteristics of embedded case studies and holistic case studies in terms of their data collection and analysis methods, including conventional surveys, interviews, fieldwork, participatory design, and post occupancy evaluations, but also such novel strategies as memory sketching and thick descriptions. These strategies are, then, examined from the perspective of integrative data evaluation with theoretical sampling, triangulation, pattern-matching logic, and analytical generalization. In other words, the focus is on deep understanding of a case within its complex context, in order to provide means of holistic interpretations of empirical inquiries in real-life contexts. The objective and future contribution of the proposition is to promote the value of research as the basis of design excellence among students and professional practitioners alike, with the mastery of case study method informing their design decisions.



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