Much has been written on the impact of digital technology and its translation into architectural practice and education. This paper reconsiders this process of integration to question current trends in research and pedagogy. Recent efforts to expand architectural research in schools tend to focus on broadening its spectrum while reinforcing design as research. We argue that the relevance of digital technology to these discussions, and its role in expanding fields of research, depends on different cultures of investigation and their differing institutional contexts. Our interest is in cultures that, as lines of thought, broaden the field of architectural research and make it heterodox, thickening a line of research with multiple interpretations. Tracing early experiences in the ‘paperless’ studios of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, this paper questions how architectural pedagogies are developing in response to the current normalisation of digital design, with a focus on the Architecture Association's Design Research Lab (DRL) and the Strelka Institute in Moscow.
Ultimately, the main question is addressed: in what ways can the digital be political? By referring to the DRL and Strelka research programmes, two distinct approaches have been critically explored. On the one hand, DRL has been pushing to the limit the idea of research by design, considering autonomous form as the materialisation of change in the design process, while Strelka has been practicing research as the information for design. If digital technology contributes to form generation at DRL, at Strelka it potentiates opinion generation, and the research product is information, rather than form itself. The triangulation of both approaches could eventually suggest a more thorough political expression by means of a digital redux.
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