Hands-on-Bristol presents an ongoing a research by design inquiry using an action research methodology with the aim of investigating how live projects, as a form of knowledge generation, can be developed to facilitate research and design collaborations between the community and the academy.

The documentation and archiving of the collection of live projects can be seen as a meta-project. Each individual project documented within this meta-project explores a narrower research question and aligned methodology.

The methodology for the meta-project is organised around the three key research themes: the relationship between education and practice; live architecture projects as research; and the relationship between the wider community and the academy.


The relationship between education and practice.

Research sub-question: Is the live project the vehicle to bridge the gap between education and practice by creating a truly professional graduate aware of the social and ethical responsibility of its profession?

This section of the action- research aims to improve the learning experience of the architectural student through the live project initiative by bridging the gap between education and practice.

The students with the support and mentorship of their tutors take part in collaborative learning design practices by planning, engaging, evaluating and reflecting on the project designed and developed between the student, the tutor and the ‘external collaborator’. Through this collaborative design process students develop skills in communication, negotiation and professionalism and experience the decision making process of the real life situation presented. This real-life encounter raises issues around dealing with contingency, negotiating conflicting perspectives and the ethical implications of the project.

The live project gives the student a ‘real-life’ opportunity to create collaborative, ever-changing relationships where communication, reflection and dialogue become the key of a professional and ethically aware architectural student.


Live architecture projects as research.

Research sub-question: How and what knowledge is produced through live architecture projects?

This section of the research aims to analyse across the multiple individual live projects to investigate the particular knowledge that is produced, as well as the ways in which knowledge is generated.

As a form of collective knowledge generation the live project is investigated to explore:

how live architecture projects use creative practice to generate place-based knowledge

how live architecture projects facilitate physical/environmental and social change in communities/organisations

what forms of place-based knowledge are generated

who is involved in (and who is excluded from) the place-based knowledge generation (and the inherent potential for exclusion and conflict)


The relationship between the wider community and the academy

Research sub-question: What relationship does the live project facilitate between the academy, the community and the profession and what impact does this have on the production of knowledge?

 This section of the research aims to analyse across the multiple individual live projects to investigate the particular relationships that are generated and the impact that this relationship has on the way in which knowledge is generated as well as the types of knowledge that is produced. An actor network diagram [LR6] is generated for each project as a way of documenting the relationships between all the actors involved in the project.