Architecture and Ethnography: Preliminary Reflections on the Structure and Organization of Architectural Practice

By Michael Chapman, Hedda Askland, Justine Chambers and Ramsey Awad.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: April 5, 2016 $US5.00

This paper explores crossovers between architectural practice and ethnography, with an emphasis on management structures and their relationship to organisational models. Architectural practice, which straddles creative and commercial realities, is distinguished by the emphasis on inter-personal relationships and the emergence of highly idiosyncratic and deeply complex social groups. These are often governed or restricted by complex bureaucratic, regulatory and economic constraints. The “cultural” conditions of architectural practice are highly unique to the discipline and are rarely, if ever, transgressed. Possibly, for this reason, ethnography has been a recurring theme in methodological approaches to architectural history and, in the period since the Second World War, has been widely appropriated in architectural discourse, specifically in the structuralist discourses of the 1970s. Despite this, a rigorous analysis of these connections in practice (as opposed to history) is yet to be undertaken. This paper looks at the method implicit in ethnographic analysis, and proposes a theoretical model for how this can be applied to management structures in architecture, and with an emphasis on creative practice. The paper proposes that within architectural practice is a microcosm of organizational data and that it is only through the emergence of ethnographic models of analysis that this data can be distilled.

Keywords: Architectural Practice, Ethnography, Organisational Models

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 10, Issue 2, June, 2016, pp.11-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: April 5, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 522.550KB)).

Dr. Michael Chapman

Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Dr. Hedda Askland

Research Fellow, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Justine Chambers

Research Assistant, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Ramsey Awad

Senior Lecturer, The School of Architecture & Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia