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The architectural model as augmenting a sensory ethnography

Marco, Elena; Williams, Katie; Oliveira, Sonja; Sinnett, Danielle


Katie Williams
Professor and Research Centre Director


This study provides an exploration of the effectiveness of the architectural model as a means of implementing a sensory ethnographical research methodology. An architectural model, constructed as part of a wider design research approach, became the visual probe in a site-specific participatory ‘place-event’ with field experts. Using physical objects in sensory ethnography is well established, however, the application of architectural models in this methodological approach has not previously been documented to the authors’ knowledge. The architectural model was shown to be an effective visual probe, a means to implement a sensory ethnography research methodology in the field of architecture. Furthermore, the site-specific nature of the event generated a site-specific conversation that would not have occurred in a more conventional context. The event also made a valuable contribution to the field of architectural research, by demonstrating that a model can challenge the design of a research project from different perspectives, in a similar way to how architectural models challenge the design of buildings. The research described in this paper is part of a wider study, that examines the relationship between material possessions and housing design, and the findings were used to refine the use of visual probes in the later stages of the wider study.


Marco-Burguete, E., Williams, K., Oliveira, S., & Sinnett, D. (in press). The architectural model as augmenting a sensory ethnography. Design Journal,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2021
Journal The Design Journal
Print ISSN 1460-6925
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords architectural design; design research; sensory ethnography; design process
Public URL
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