RMIT’s d___Lab is built around its flagship research capability platform within the practice-based research paradigm.
Design practice research – research in the medium of design practice itself – as pioneered at RMIT, is recognised as a radically innovative, emergent and supra-disciplinary research paradigm in the tertiary sector globally, with particular relevance for Universities of Technology and Design.
The d___Lab at RMIT sits at the forefront of research in this field worldwide; it aims to be internationally highly competitive and leverage RMIT’s already acknowledged global leadership within the practice-based research paradigm. Through its projects, d___Lab intersects with a wide array of research fields, industries and government bodies in which impacts of the research are evidenced through application in projects.
The d___Lab provides a cutting-edge multi-disciplinary research platform across a range of established and emerging design areas in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, industrial design and interior design. It aims at providing a critical research environment for both new and established design practice research projects. d___Lab’s prime methodical aim is to release the ‘sealed cognitive research capital’ in established and successful creative practice.
The basic premise of design practice research is to exteriorise, make explicit and voice research knowledge which is, implicit and tacit in ongoing design practice. It does this through the ongoing production of design projects. The activity of producing designs form the core research material on which d___Lab builds its understanding of design.
d___Lab conceives of itself as a mega-experimental design laboratory for practice-based research that subsumes a series of distinctive research labs, research teams and design projects, with an intended overlap of some researchers that contribute to several labs, teams and projects. The labs, teams and projects are conceived as dynamic, osmotic and experimental, constellating the research agendas of the core members under the leading premise of design practice research. d___Lab’s concentrates and leverage identified strengths and staff expertise by taking more than 25 years’ development of design practice research methodology at RMIT to the next level. Each of the research labs within d___Lab pursues a line of enquiry that unfolds through a systematic series of projects that range from the purely speculative to real world projects undertaken in partnership with government and industry. These labs provide a vital new research space that links industry, design practice and the academy. Each lab is directly linked with a venturous design practice some of which are industry based consulting companies and others of which are design practices situated within the academy.
d___Lab’s research teams undertake research across the breadth of activity of the laboratories and furthermore, undertake research into the methods and attributes of design practice research. This research contributes to wider fields of enquiry related to the nature of creativity more generally and provides a valuable wellspring of data and findings that offer researched and empirical evidence of what design is and how it works. Findings of these research teams are fed back into the research of laboratories, on projects and into the research training programs associated with d___Lab creating a vital feedback loop in this research ecology.
d___Lab encompasses researchers at all stages of their research careers from research training and higher degree placements in d___Lab, early career researchers and experienced researchers. d___Lab’s professoriate provide leadership and mentorship within research teams. d___Lab promotes and enables collaboration with other researchers and research entities at RMIT.
Integral to the d___Lab is a comprehensive doctoral training program developed at RMIT over the past decades in conjunction with its practice based methodology. At the core of this internationally renowned higher degrees program sit Practice Research Symposia (PRS) as the major modus operandi of the RMIT design practice research in situ at PhD level. d___Lab represents the first centre of its kind worldwide to serve as institutional home for RMIT Design Practice Research, including the doctoral training model which redefines the concept of‘ embedded research’. It facilitates comprehensive internal RMIT cross-articulation, supports the dynamic further development of the design practice research model, and provides a globally effective branding of its design practice research techniques and methodologies as an RMIT signature research paradigm.
d___Lab provides a globally unique platform for the contextualisation of research through the fundamentally integrative nature of the actual design practice, requiring the vanguard’s reflective and critical capacity to map out new operational and conceptual grounds in dynamic conditions. The d___Lab is at the forefront of the radically innovative paradigm of design based research – that is, research in the medium of design itself. Its purpose is to articulate and communicate knowledge grounded in and developed through design practice, knowledge which often remains tacit and implicit.
The d___Lab provides a platform for conducting research into and through design in the fields of architecture ,landscape architecture, urban design, industrial design and interior design, and through forms of practice that are both established and emergent. The research ecology of d___Lab is founded on vital project-based relationships between industry, government, design practices and the academy. d___Lab provides a cross disciplinary and cross university context for each lab which allows augmentation of labs through key university strengths eg specialist disciplinary in-put such as mathematics, engineering and technology support through the School's robotics lab or the central AMP facility.