The Integration of New Knowledge Domains to Foster Innovation in Architecture: A Case Study of the Relationship between 3XN & GXN through Actor-network Theory

Paul Jaeggi & Sebastian Svane Müller

Student thesis: Master thesis


Architecture takes place in an environment that is constantly increasing in complexity. Social norms are changing and the environment is in a state of emergency. Society’s expectations require the architect to take account for new elements when designing the built environment. Innovating the architectural industry is therefore vital. The importance of innovation in architecture lies in the role of the practice to shape society. Architecture is a product of its environment, while concurrently producing it. However, with the emergence of new requirements of buildings, innovation has to be enhanced to not only represent society through aesthetic functions. This is achieved through integrating new domains of knowledge. This is a tendency happening across the industry in larger architectural offices where research entities are being established to facilitate this integration of new domains of knowledge. This study examines how architectural firms can work towards using new domains of knowledge in collaboration with a connected research unit to create informed architectural design based on new parameters. The study inspects how the architectural organisation, 3XN, can benefit from their connected but independent research lab, GXN. It focuses on the relationship between the two firms through the lense Actor-Network Theory and Callon’s
(1986) four moments of translation . We find that a successful integration of new domains of knowledge is reliant on the confirmation of validity of a research project from different individuals and institutions and the relationship between the researchers and architects. Research-based knowledge is complex and requires translation and transformation before it can be transferred to the architect and shared within the industry. This demands from the researcher to be able to strike the right balance of complexity and simplicity when creating design tools based on the research. Therefore, the researcher has to contextualise the knowledge into the practice of the architect in which the tools will be utilised. This process is very complex and entails several challenges that are presented in the study. We come to the conclusion that truly meaningful innovation in architecture should be achieved through a trichotomy of elements that are architecture as business, as practice and as knowledge.

EducationsMSocSc in Strategic Design and Entrepreneurship, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages201
SupervisorsMarianne Stang Våland