Situating Tacit Knowledge

The three PhD candidates working on this research cluster will develop new theoretical concepts and new heuristic approaches to examine how tacit knowledge is understood in architectural practice and how it can be made explicit and communicated. They will investigate how value-systems that are inherent to specific cultural contexts (for instance concerning the public role of the architect) affect the perception and reception of tacit knowledge in architecture, and examine how self-reflexivity can sharpen the understanding of the functioning of tacit knowledge. This third research cluster contains three individual PhD projects:

  1. Individual PhD project: Contexts
  2. Individual PhD project: Values
  3. Individual PhD project: Reflexivity


The practice of architecture is both informed by disciplinary knowledge, and contingent upon the socio-cultural context within which it operates. When architects design, they continuously self-evaluate their work in relation to other architectural designs, and in relation to a multitude of contextual factors that affect the practice of architecture. As such, the working knowledge of architectural practice extends beyond its disciplinary boundaries. This project explores the relationality of disciplinary knowledge and contextual understanding as integral to architecture thinking. The PhD candidate working on this project will situate tacit knowledge vis-à-vis other forms of knowledge about the built environment.


Communities of Tacit Knowledge share value systems. The norms and standards within the practice of architecture are, however, also informed by the culture within which they emerge and operate. Unraveling the intricate relations between contextual (culture-based) value systems and the disciplinary values of architecture is central to this PhD project. The central research questions that the PhD candidate working on this project will address are: How is the practice of architecture affected (or informed) by its societal context and the (implicit) value systems that are embedded within this context; how are the culturally-produced value-systems (gender, power) passed on within communities of tacit knowledge; and how do these value systems that are shared by a ‘community of tacit knowledge’ affect the perception and reception of architecture –with a specific focus on European architectural culture and its social context?


This PhD project will focus on the specifics of knowledge genesis and performance through reflexivity. Tacit knowledge is related to ways of doing. It is part and parcel of the practice. Design can also entail reflexive dimensions, as practitioners take stock of their groundings, potentials and actions and of the effect of these actions. This PhD project will examine how the reflexive dimension of design practice is to be understood, and how it can be conceptualized, strategically positioned, and treated to trigger innovative practice and research.

The PhD candidates participating in this research cluster will be located at, and draw on the expertise of three academic institutions: The Faculty of Design Sciences at the University of Antwerp; The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London; and Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Sciences at Leibniz Universität Hannover.

For more information about this research cluster, please contact: Lara Schrijver, Peg Rawes and Margitta Buchert.