This article presents a typology of designs for social research in the built environment.
Currently there is no such typology, while the notion of ‘research
design’ is less known in the built environment compared to the social sciences.
Twenty-five subtypes are identified and clustered into 10 prototypical designs,
namely: (1) surveys, (2) experiments, (3) modelling, simulation, mapping and
visualisation, (4) textual and narrative studies, (5) field studies, (6) case studies,
(7) intervention research, (8) evaluation research, (9) participatory action
research and (10) meta-research. After determining the extent to which these
designs feature in actual studies, the designs are classified according to six
design considerations, including research – context, aim and purpose, methodological
– paradigm and approach, and source of data. The typology contributes
towards greater clarity in terms of ‘research design’, improved teaching of
research methodology and greater methodological coherence in projects.