Yifan Wang

Architectural research is inherently multifaceted, bridging the gap between the tangible world of design and construction and the more abstract realms of sociology, human psychology, and environmental context. The investigation of space, the primary subject matter of our discipline, becomes more complex yet fascinating when we dig deeper into these converging aspects. This research, aptly titled “Investigating Space,” seeks to delve into the essence of architectural forms and functions across diverse landscapes, offering an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the built environment.

The scope of this work is geographically and thematically broad, providing a rich tapestry of perspectives. Through a comparative study of different global locations - ranging from the tower blocks of Slovenia, the urban skate parks of London, the lively markets of London, the tranquil allure of rural Romania, the religious sanctity of Wat Ananda in Singapore, to the dynamic public spaces of Shanghai and Brighton, we examine the myriad ways in which architecture is perceived, used, and contextualized.

Each region investigated in this study employs unique research methodologies to deepen our understanding of their specific architectural landscape. This involves traditional approaches such as interviews, site visits, and archival research, including personal and official records. More contemporary and experimental methods, including photography, digital site studies, and online research, provide nuanced, multi-sensory insights into the spaces we investigate.

Consider the unique case of analyzing Internet phenomena in Chinese public and commercial spaces. Here, the research method involves a comprehensive literature review and statistical analysis, highlighting the intriguing intersection of physical spaces and digital realities in the realm of architecture. Similarly, the focus on London’s domestic and public spheres incorporates a combination of site visits, readings, and interviews to uncover the intricate layers of urban life.

The scale of investigation, too, varies greatly - from the intimate domestic spaces influenced by TikTok interior design trends, to broader urban areas like Chilean cities or Singapore’s urban fabric, and the study of public spaces such as London’s markets or Shanghai’s bustling streets. This range in scale enables us to investigate how design principles, cultural nuances, and human interactions shape spaces at different levels.

The research also encompasses distinct architectural types: public spaces, domestic dwellings, virtual environments, and institutional settings like UCL’s main campus. Each of these offers a distinctive lens through which to understand the ways in which architectural design and built environments intersect with human behaviour and societal structures.

Furthermore, this research promotes the understanding of the broader socio-cultural context within which architecture exists. The use of ethnographic methods, participant observation, and experimental approaches in various settings fosters a deeper exploration into how built environments are not only spaces of physical utility, but also reservoirs of collective memory, cultural identity, and societal dynamics.

“Investigating Space” is an ambitious exploration of architecture from an interdisciplinary lens. It underscores the crucial role of context in architectural research, moving beyond the physical parameters of structures to incorporate a rich blend of human, cultural, and environmental elements. By unearthing these diverse narratives of space, we hope to advance our understanding of the built environment, uncovering the nuanced interactions between human society and architectural design.