Press release

‘Research through designing’ in landscape architecture

Published on
March 12, 2013

We have developed a framework for research methods that encompass designing - an important methodological basis for landscape architecture research.

Journal: Landscape and Urban Planning
Issue: Volume 113, May 2013, P.120-127
Authors: S. Lenzholzer, I. Duchhart, prof.dr. J. Koh

Article content highlights:

  • Landscape architecture has to articulate ‘research through designing’ (RTD) methods.
  • RTD should meet academic research requirements depending on the knowledge claim.
  • Knowledge claim framework: (post)positivist, constructivist, participatory, pragmatic.
  • RTD methods and research evaluation are described according to knowledge claims.
  • Differentiating RTD according to knowledge claims sharpens methodological discourse.


There is a general consensus amongst landscape architecture academia that the discipline has to urgently advance its methodological repertoire to generate new knowledge and thus strengthen the academic position of landscape architecture. To enhance the methodological repertoire, the core activity of landscape architecture – designing – needs more emphasis in research. Therefore, we shed light on methods that actively employ designing within the research process or ‘research through designing’ (RTD) in this essay. We position ‘research through designing’ in general discussions on research and design relations and indicate its great importance for landscape architecture research. Building upon Creswell's well established overview of knowledge claims ((post)positivist, constructivist, advocacy/participatory and pragmatic) and related research methods, we categorize different types of RTD for landscape architecture in these knowledge claims. For each claim, we articulate types of new knowledge that is searched for, related research questions, appropriate RTD methods and evaluation strategies. In grounding RTD in Creswell's framework, we argue that many types of designing can be a respected research method when they comply with the respective rules. With this overview, we would like to facilitate further methodological discussion in landscape architecture and enhance interdisciplinary communication and cooperation with other academic disciplines.