PhD Thesis in the Field Defended at CTU in Prague


Please, read recent case study in the field by Marie Davidová: Wood as a Primary Medium to Eco-Systemic Performance: A Case Study in Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance


The present research considers wood as a study material for a wider question on architecture’s environmental[1] interaction. It aims to explore its potential for eco-systemic[2] performances[3] and atmospheres[4] as well as to broaden the discussion on this problem area by accessing the public space and professional practice calls. My project researches such interactions through practical experiments as well as theoretical reflections, including examinations of other scientific, design, artistic and crafts disciplines. It honestly discusses the successes as well as the failures and weak points to develop a strong background for eco-systemic collaborative design-research practice.

The methodology Research by Design[5] while full scale prototyping is covered by the Systems Oriented Design[6] to interpret and develop complex environmental relations. While doing so, this work also claims develop the methodology itself and to generate theory through experimental practice. The fusion of these process based fields led to the ratification of new design field: Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance[7].

This is an article based thesis[8], where the texts of the articles have been shortened of the parts mentioned elsewhere in the work and underwent through language check. These serve as an addendum covered with an exegesis. Most of the repeating images were removed from the articles. If there is an exception this is reasoned through its important relation to the present text.

All substantial contributions are mentioned within the text and/or summarized in the Thanks chapter. To mention the main institutions and practice/NGO’s respectively, this research has been collaboratively developed at the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague, the Faculty of Art and Architecture at the Technical University of Liberec, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, the Architectural Institute Prague, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, the Faculty of Civil Engineering the Czech Technical University in Prague, Collaborative Collective, Defio, Oximoron, re.code.nature, CooLAND, Experis SDKM and reSITE.

This work is a second, revised edition of the thesis, when the first, work in progress, publication called Wood as a Primary Medium to Architectural Performance: A Case Study in Performance Oriented Architecture Approached through Systems Oriented Design (Davidová, 2016m) served as a tool to receive broader feedback from its readers. The first publication was kindly supported by EEA and Norway Grants through the project Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance, was printed on paper with 100% of recycled fibre. This edition was reviewed by a gender equal team and is to be defended in front of a gender equal selection of opponents. The work itself is dedicated to our Biosphere[9].

[1] ‘Environment is physical and biological surroundings of an organism. The environment covers non-living (abiotic) factors such as temperature, soil, atmosphere and radiation, and also living (biotic) organisms such as plants, microorganisms and animals.’ (Oxford University Press, 2004)

[2] Ecosystem was described by Allen and Roberts as an ecological system inside the system that includes the geophysical part. (T. F. H. Allen & Roberts, 1993)

[3] Leatherbarrow is explaining the performance view on construction: ‘…when the preparations of well-designed construction are seen to be inevitably inadequate, when the finished work is understood to be necessarily incomplete, because the world of which it is part is recognized as a field of forces that will, over time and unpredictably, re-qualify what design and construction had pre-qualified.’ (Leatherbarrow, 2013)

[4] ‘Quality in architecture . . . is to me when a building manages to move me. What on earth is it that moves me? How can I get it into my own work? . . . How do people design things with such a beautiful, natural presence, things that move me every single time. One word for it is Atmosphere.’ (Zumthor, 2006a)

[5] ‘Research by Design is any kind of inquiry in which design is a substantial part of the research process. In research by design, the architectural design process forms a pathway through which new insights, knowledge, practices or products come into being. Research by design generates critical inquiry through design work that may include realized projects, proposals, possible realities or alternatives. Research by design produces forms of output and discourse proper to disciplinary practice, verbal and non-verbal that make it discussable, accessible and useful to peers and others. Research by design is validated through peer review by panels of experts who collectively cover the range of disciplinary competencies addressed by the work.’ (ResEAAErch, 2017)

[6] Systems Oriented Design: ‘an approach to learn how to better cope with very complex issues as designers. The approach is influenced and inspired by modern systems thinking and systems practice and inspired by generative diagramming. Design practice, systems thinking, systems practice, design thinking, information visualisation, diagramming, GIGA-mapping, research by design, research through design, design for complexity, sustainability.’ (Sevaldson, 2013c)

[7] The notion of Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance was first expressed by me in 2016 as a title for collaborative project among me, Birger Sevaldson, Michael Hensel and Miloš Florián that was fusing Performance Oriented Architecture and Systems Oriented Design. This project was supported by EEA and Norway Grants as a bilateral partnership program between the Faculty of Art and Architecture at the Technical University of Liberec and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Davidová, 2016k, 2016l). The project’s continuation among the same design – researchers participants for the bilateral partnership between the CTU in Prague and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design has been recently submitted for funding to the same donor.

[8] PhD Thesis Requirements at CTU in Prague: ‘1. A dissertation is the result of solving a particular scientific or artistic task; PhD student demonstrates the ability to work independently in a creative way and it must contain original authorship of the dissertation published results of scientific or artistic work or results accepted for publication; 2. A general theme or themes of dissertation are offered during the admissions procedure on the basis of the future supervisor, followed by the recommendation of the head of the training department and the consent of the Scientific Committee. A more specific definition of the topic within the thematic area is possible upon an agreement between the supervisor and the candidate; 3. The title of the dissertation, including its load is set at the latest at the end of the study unit on the basis of the submitted studies and debates on the topic of dissertation under – see Art. 27 paragraph. 7th; 4. The dissertation can be recognized and accepted as a set of publications or manuscripts joint by an integrating text; 5. dissertation is written in Czech, Slovak or English. Applicants may, with the agreement of the President of the Scientific Committee, submit a dissertation in one of the other world languages. Other formal requirements for dissertation is specified by the dean of the faculty. If the work does not meet these formal requirements it may be not accepted by department for science and research for further proceedings. In case of doubt the decision is concluded by the Dean. (Konvalinka, 2015)

>> PhD Thesis Requirements at FA CTU in Prague: Formal and Content of State doctoral examinations, dissertation and its defence is specified in the requirements and recommendations for additional SER CTU.’ (Lábus, 2016)

>> Additional PhD Thesis Requirements and Recommendations by SER CTU: ‘Also dissertation as a set of publications or accepted manuscripts joined by integrating text can be recognized. Dissertation is written in Czech, Slovak or English language… …Dissertation has the following formalities and obligatorily includes: 1. The cover or first page: marking the university, the faculty and supervising department, dissertation title, ‘Doctoral Thesis’ title, name of the PhD candidate, the year of submission, supervisor’s name, study program, field of study; 2. In the introductory part: target of the dissertation and an overview of the current state of the science issues (with references to literature); 3. In the final part: overview of results, including the original dissertation doctoral student contribution (i.e. a brief overview of the results of dissertation and how to improve the current situation), the conclusions for future the advancement of science or for implementation in practice; 4. One-page abstract in English.’ (Fialová, 2016)

[9] Biosphere is ‘irregularly shaped envelope of the earth’s air, water, and land encompassing the heights and depths at which living things exist. The biosphere is a closed and self-regulating system (see ecology), sustained by grand-scale cycles of energy and of materials—in particular, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, certain minerals, and water. The fundamental recycling processes are photosynthesis, respiration, and the fixing of nitrogen by certain bacteria. Disruption of basic ecological activities in the biosphere can result from pollution.’ (Lagasse & Columbia University, 2016)


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