The Future Practice of Architectural Technology; Informing Practice and Education

  • Frances Josephine Robertson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The Architectural Technology profession is comparatively new in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Owner/operations sector: emerging in 1965 as a discipline in its own right. This research first explored the professional remit, function, and evolving identity of the Architectural Technologist with reference to the historical subject benchmarking of its curriculum in the UK and Ireland. This allowed the future disciplinary ontology, epistemology, and paradigmatic positions for the Architectural Technologist to be postulated, as the sector moves from the digital to the machine age. This formed the basis for investigating whether current and prospective Architectural Technology education is aligned to future trends in practice. The research aim was to develop a conceptual educational framework to align the Architectural Technology curriculum and student learning to future practice.
A mixed methods research approach was used for a prospective enquiry into a discipline predicated on both the natural and the human sciences. The literature review informed the design of a quantitative and qualitative survey of UK and Irish Architectural Technology educators. This elicited opinion on the benchmarking of the subject discipline of current and future roles and remits. The survey also provided intelligence on whom the educators believed were the pioneering practices, which helped to select the case studies. Nine semi-structured interviews with research-active Architectural Technology educators from the survey sample were then conducted. The questions were devised through analysis of the survey data, and allowed the collection of more in-depth qualitative data on future education and practice. This was then compared with qualitative data gleaned from six case studies of practices that were deemed to be innovators. The case study data was analysed thematically, on case-by-case and cross-case bases, and triangulated with the findings of previous stages of the research. This allowed the development of a conceptual framework that aligned Architectural Technology education with future practice. This is presented in three parts: Part 1, on a case-by-case basis, with summary tables of the future declarative and procedural knowledge required of the Architectural Technology professional, and suggestions for how this may be applied to the current educational system; Part 2 presents the headline themes for Architectural Technology education to (re)align it to future practice; and Part 3 provides the thematic changes required of practice and education to (re)align them to future practice.
The findings portend a paradigm shift in all aspects of Architectural Technology curriculum design, content, pedagogy, approaches to learning, and delivery. The findings reveal the necessity for a paradigm shift in approach and attitude within the Architectural Technology community of educators to help align the discipline to future digital/machine age practice. Evidence is presented that the epistemology of architectural technology inheres to socially constructed knowledge: recommending the reformation of Architectural Technology education to an agile, practitioner/academic, collaborative partnership of exemplary, research-rich practitioners and academics. The findings demonstrate the unique and predominant contribution research into the practice context can make to the evolution and strengthening of the discipline, both in the UK and Ireland, and with wider, international, implications.
Date of Award22 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorStephen Emmitt (Supervisor) & Marion Harney (Supervisor)


  • Architectural Technology; professional education in the AECO sector; aligning future education and practice

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