Context 155 - July 2018

C O N T E X T 1 5 5 : J U L Y 2 0 1 8 15 Theory and practice HENRIK SCHOENEFELDT Historic research as an applied science A collaborative project at the Palace of Westminster shows how academic research can provide a better understanding of environmental technology in historic buildings. The relationship between university-based research and architectural practice has been subject of longstanding debates. Among recent contributions to this debate is the RIBA report How Architects Use Research 1 . It explores how academic scholarship undertaken within the universities can contribute towards the advance- ment of the architectural profession, and how it complements practice-based research under- taken by architectural firms. In Adding Value to Architectural Practice: demys- tifying architectural research, another RIBA study, Ann Dye and Flora Samuel introduce architects to academic research methods and their applica- tions in practice. 2 In both of these studies academic research is primarily understood as an activity serving the needs of industry, while the specific requirements of its academic institutions received only marginal considerations. In ‘What is “architectural design research”?’ Alan Short, who is both a practitioner and academic, argues that architectural research suffers from a schism between architecture as a profession and a field of academic research. 3 This article aims to argue that academic projects involving collaborations with industry can only succeed if they are based on a mutual understanding of the nature, and specific requirements of architectural practice and research. The first is to maintain the integrity of the research as academic scholarship, pub- lishable in peer-reviewed journals or books, the other to ensure it can support the work undertaken by practitioners. The article explores the challenges of embed- ding academic research within live conservation projects, using the author’s current research project ‘Between heritage and sustainability: restoring the Palace of Westminster’s 19th-cen- tury ventilation system’ as a case study. This project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is embedded in the Palace of Westminster restoration and renewal pro- gramme, a client body appointed by Parliament to coordinate the refurbishment. By being embedded the research was able to directly feed into the work of the client and external design consultants. The project has two primary objectives. The first is to gain a critical understanding of the history, design and technical performance of the 19th-century system. The second is to explore 4 Mapping of voids based on onsite investigations and archival research 3 Onsite investigations 1 Archival research 2 Historic reconstruction 5 3D point-cloud scans of shafts, guided by research HISTORIC RECONSTRUCTION SURVEY OF EXISTING 6 BIM Model Output 3D POINT-CLOUD SURVEY & BIM The process by which research underpinned production of the BIM model