Research and critical thinking are key skills to better understand a given design question or assignment or get new insights or inspiration. A hands-on course exploring both research and critical thinking was set up for the students architecture and urban design of the Fontys Academy of Architecture & Urbanism.



For research to optimally support a design process, the designer first needs to get familiar with the discussion that is already taking place on the subject. From there, (s)he can formulate the question that will bring the design a step further, collect the needed and correct data and apply this data in order to formulate a sufficient answer to the posed question. In eight weeks, the students got familiar with all these steps, by conducting a small research, linked to their design studio.



research poster Ron van den Heuvel


Critical thinking

“Not only is critical thinking the most interdisciplinary design skill, it is also the most crucial. The act of designing is the natural offspring of the act of deciding. If we expect our students to achieve a level of sophistication in their design work, we must teach them to make good decisions during the design process.” (Tippey, B, 2008, Critical thinking is not discipline-specific: Teaching critical thinking to the beginning design student.)

By use of a series of lectures, workshops, debates and writing, the students will elaborate on the complexity of their own design process. This will help them to position their project and themselves as a designer on a background of various discourses in theory and professional and societal dynamics.