This paper explored through a literature review, the domains of research in Architecture and the nature of doctoral research, with a view to contributing to the evolving research agenda in the Nigerian context. The research method involved a descriptive and thematic analysis of the titles and abstracts of completed doctoral theses in Architecture in Nigeria, in the last 26 years (1990–2015), complemented by semi-structured interviews with six key informants. The study revealed an emphasis on Housing-related topics (34%) relative to other research modules, such as׳ History and Theory׳ (20%) and ׳Design and Production׳ (18%). It also reflected the limited coverage and scope of current research, relative to the global terrain, as evidenced in the article titles and contents of 45 Architecture-related Journals. The results of the interviews indicated the strong influence of supervisors׳ areas of interest in the choices of thesis titles. It highlighted reasons for the perceived focus on Housing, which reflect its unique place and multi-disciplinary nature. It concluded that extending the boundaries of architectural research at the doctoral level could be beneficial to the discipline and profession in Nigeria in order to align with global trends, while keeping cognizance of the local contexts.


Architectural research ; Doctoral ; Domain ; Housing ; Nigeria ; Research agenda

1. Introduction

The post-Renaissance intellectualization of architecture has witnessed a paradigm shift from knowledge on the material reality of buildings, building types, and construction techniques and materials to embrace an array of non-material discourses. This trend emerged from the influences of extant disciplines, such that the knowledge base of architecture now depicts a broad constituency and extensive roots into the physical and social sciences, the humanities, and fine and applied arts (Amole, 2004 ). Essentially, the discipline has advanced through research by engaging with and adding to this knowledge base. However, to what extent this condition reflects the state of architectural research in Nigeria is unclear.

Although architecture has been mainly a practice discipline in which graduates typically begin their career in practical settings for several years before contemplating academic pursuits, the trend is changing rapidly. The internationalization of the doctorate has created a global demand for a sustainable supply of researchers and for nurturing of productive doctoral students who are vital to the health of academic disciplines (Powell and Green, 2007 ). At present, few departments of architecture in Nigeria actively engage in the production of PhDs; however, the number of candidates is increasing steadily. The recent upsurge may be partly attributed to the PhD being more widely required as a basic qualification for entry and career advancement within academia, as well as the institutional pressure for research productivity as reflected in the “publish or perish” view (McGrail et al ., 2006  ;  Stoilescu and McDougall, 2010 ). For example, a preliminary survey revealed that among the 22 professors of architecture produced in Nigeria to date, 13 obtained doctorate degrees, 9 of these post-1990, indicating the relative recency of the PhD in architecture.

Architecture as a discipline and profession could benefit from the production of PhDs because such a standard can contribute significantly to developing the discipline through research, scholarship, and global linkages. Examining the status of architectural research in Nigeria is expedient because the country needs more architectural educators to meet the challenge of nurturing new generations of architects for academia, industry, and practice. This study reports on the preliminary stage of a multi-staged study on doctoral architectural research in Nigeria. The aim is to explore the research terrain with a view to understanding the coverage, scope, and depth, as well as to relate these aspects to global trends in the field. This objective could enable us to identify gaps and potential areas for further research, which may enhance the extension and setting of research agenda in the future. Following the literature review on the domains of research in architecture and doctoral research in particular, the research method is described. The thematic analysis of architecture doctorates in Nigeria and relevant journals in the field, complemented by informal interviews with six key informants, provide the basis for discussing the research findings. The study identifies and explains the factors that appear to have influenced the choice of doctoral themes, and concludes on the ample room available to extend the boundaries and deepen the effect of architectural research in Nigeria.

2. Literature review

2.1. Domains of research in architecture

Conceptualizations of research domains vary in the literature. Leedy and Ormrod (2005) identified five generic classes of phenomena from which researchable problems originate, namely, people, things, records, thoughts/ideas, and dynamics/energy. These categories have broad ramifications for research possibilities. However, the search for facts to solve research problems seldom fits into such neatly packaged disciplines. Research originating in one field may more often than not cross the artificial academic boundaries in pursuit of the factual data needed to resolve problems.

Architectural research has been conducted covertly throughout the history of architecture. For example, over the centuries, the development of specific structural forms and building materials was derived from trial-and-error experimentation, observation, and application of emergent building principles to building projects. However, conducting architectural research outside the confines of specific building projects is a recent phenomenon (Fraser, 2013 ). Globally, much of the research in architecture has been multi-disciplinary; thus, a wide array of research problems is germane to architectural research, and a range of research designs and methods are applicable to such problems. Examples are the following:

  • climate, thermal comfort, and structural studies, which dominated in the 1950s;
  • a broader range of issues in the 1960s and 1970s, including socio-behavioral issues, design methods, sustainability, and energy conservation (energy-efficient technologies);
  • architectural history (art/esthetics, theory and criticism, and historical preservation);
  • evaluation studies, research on computer-aided design, and building material studies; and
  • housing, urban design, landscape architecture, interior design, and specialized areas.

Groat and Wang (2002) posit that research on architectural realities is necessarily an interdisciplinary matter: architectural research engages with what diverse disciplines have to offer. It harnesses their strategies and tactics to achieve its own ends in gaining knowledge on how built environments could enhance human life. Architectural research can also be viewed through the lens of product, process, and practice. Although significant research focuses on the physical outcomes (products) of design from the scale of building components, to a room and a building, to neighborhood and urban design, research on the processes of design and the practices (structure and scope) of architectural firms are just as vital and valid. Further domain classifications can be derived from the literature on architecture and allied disciplines, examples of which are presented through the thematic analysis in this study.

2.2. Doctoral research

Doctoral education aims to develop disciplinary stewards who conserve ideas, develop new knowledge, and engage in scholarly efforts (Golde, 2006  ;  Gardner, 2009 ). Undertaking a PhD is a major life commitment and research training exercise aimed at transforming a research beginner into a professional. The literature addresses a range of issues: conceptual, psychological, personal, contextual, procedural, and institutional (Jones, 2013 ). The conceptual issues include the meaning, value, types, and purposes of the doctorate (Mason, 2012 ). The psychological issues examine the motivations and psychology of doctoral candidates and supervisors Huisman and Naidoo (2006) . The socio-personal issues focus on doctoral dilemmas such as identity, financial concerns, time demands, rewards, socialization, relationships, key competences, and requisite skills Jairam and Kahl (2012) . The contextual concerns analyze the complex tasks, working conditions, and situational difficulties encountered (Grover, 2007 ). The procedural or process-related issues include induction, strategies, influential factors on doctoral students’ experiences, and supervisory/mentoring models and skills (Bogelund, 2015 ). Institutional issues relate to attrition rates, curriculum, duration, ethics, funding, staffing, standards, quality, costs, benefits, organizational structure and challenges of doctoral programs (Rockinson-Szapkiw et al., 2014 ).

Doctoral degrees are in varied forms, relative to particular fields and the professions involved. Although the two broad forms are academically focused or disciplinary research doctorates and professional or practitioner doctorates (Fink, 2006  ;  Neumann, 2005 ), the route to attaining a doctoral qualification is rapidly diverging into various forms and pathways. Gill and Hoppe (2009) identify five alternative patterns of doctorate, namely, traditional PhD, PhD by publication, taught doctorate, work- or practice-based, professional, and online doctorates. Regardless of its form, the doctorate constitutes an important resource in building the body of knowledge for the profession.

Gill and Hoppe (2009) suggest that the motives for doctoral pursuits may be intrinsic (personal development, intellectual interest, and acquisition of research skills), extrinsic (professional development, career requirements, third-party influence, and degree acquisition), or multiple (Brailsford, 2010 ; Churchill and Sanders, 2007  ;  McGill and Settle, 2012 ). Particularly, an ongoing debate focuses on the epistemology, legitimacy, and practical possibilities of “doctorate by design” (i.e., design-based PhD) in schools of architecture (Heynen, 2006 ). The growing notion of doctoral education in design raises unresolved, fundamental questions about what constitutes doctoral education and its purpose (Margolin, 2010 ).

Although doctoral supervisory models are evolving, they may be classified broadly into three: master–apprentice, role model, and team leader–member models (Nethsinghe and Southcott, 2015  ;  Wadee et al ., 2010 ). These models relate to the candidate׳s autonomy and ownership of the research (Platow, 2012 ). McAlpine and Mitra (2015) highlight newer variants of these traditional models in the light of new electronic and virtual technologies. Although a basic similarity appears in university frameworks for doctoral research, notable differences exist between the research cultures of academic disciplines, as well as institutional distinctions (Freeman et al., 2014 ). Related to the issue of supervisory models is the question of what drives the choices of doctoral topics. The views on the driving factors for the choices of PhD topics vary in the literature. Lei (2009) identified faculty and student-related factors such as the nature of the topic, trend, duration of study, research funding, and eventual audience of published works. Olalere and De Lulio (2014) suggest that topic selection in specialized education is influenced by the research agenda of faculty members, departmental core courses, and network factors such as professional, life, and practical experiences. However, Leedy and Ormrod (2005) suggest that most students do not have research interests while others cannot readily articulate topics from their areas of research interests. Notwithstanding the level of convergence in the literature on dissertation topic selection, contexts and disciplinary differences are highly relevant (Luse et al., 2012 ). The specific interest at this preliminary stage is to understand the trend, spread, and scope of completed doctoral architectural studies in Nigeria, which may enhance the quest for new doctoral guidelines and future research agenda.

3. Research method

At this preliminary stage of a larger survey on doctoral architectural research in Nigeria, basic data on completed PhD theses in architecture from 1990 to 2015 were obtained. The information includes the titles and abstracts of the theses and few related details. The 26-year duration was considered adequate to embrace an era that appropriately characterizes the upsurge in doctoral education in architecture. For example, approximately 40% of the current number of architecture professors in Nigeria obtained their doctoral degrees within this time frame. In the absence of comprehensive national or institutional data banks of post-graduate theses in Nigerian universities, 50 completed doctoral theses were identified within the time frame through official requests and Internet searches. The scope at this stage excludes ongoing doctoral studies. However, it includes several PhDs obtained from foreign universities by Nigerian architects in collaboration with their home universities, and a few PhDs in allied disciplines obtained by architects in Nigeria.

The sampled theses were analyzed qualitatively in terms of the geographical locations of the awarding Institutions; the temporal trend of the degrees; and thematically, based on seven modules derived from the literature (architectural history and theory, architectural design and production, architectural science and technology, housing studies, urban-related studies, architectural education, and a module for other specializations). These modules generally align with the curricula of relevant institutions and information derived from research articles in 45 high-impact architecture-related journals.

In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six key informants from three higher institutions (three full and three associate professors), who supervised two or more doctoral candidates. The assumption is that responses from these informants would substantially represent the perception of doctoral research in architecture in Nigeria. The interviews ascertained information on (i) what influenced their (and their candidates’) choices of themes, titles, or areas of focus, and (ii) how they would explain the trend, coverage, and scope of doctoral research. Discussions therefore centered around two questions: What main factors guided or influenced your (and your candidate’s) choice of thesis topic or area of interest? How can you explain what has evolved so far in terms of the trend, spread, and scope of doctoral research in architecture?

4. Analysis, results, and discussion

4.1. Exploring the domain

The analysis of architecture-related PhD theses is related to the geographical locations of the awarding institutions, the temporal trend of the degrees, and their thematic analysis. As shown in Table 1 , 42 of the doctoral studies were conducted and completed exclusively in Nigerian institutions, while 8 were either based in foreign institutions or conducted in collaboration with Nigeria-based universities. That is, the majority of the PhDs (84%) were awarded by seven Nigerian universities, five were awarded in the United Kingdom, and one each in the United States and Malaysia. Although these numbers may not reflect the global range of doctoral studies in architecture conducted by Nigerians, it does indicate the predominantly British foreign influence on current architectural research. In addition, four of the theses (two local and two foreign-based) were obtained by architects, but from departments other than architecture, namely, environmental technology, geography, and urban studies.

Table 1. Geographical locations of Doctorate-awarding institutions.
S/N Locations of academic institutions Number of theses Percentage
1 7 Nigerian Institutions 42 84
2 United Kingdom 5 10
3 United States 1 2
4 Malaysia 1 2
50 100

Source : Author׳s Fieldwork (2015)

Although a larger number of institutions have advertised doctoral programs, only one private and six public universities have actively engaged in the production of architecture PhDs during the time frame at varying degrees. More than 60% (33) of the doctorates were awarded by only three of the institutions. The data on the doctoral theses were also analyzed in terms of when they were completed, as shown in Table 2 , to illustrate the temporal trend.

Table 2. Periods of the awards of the Doctorates.
S/N Time periods Number of completed theses  %
1 1990–1994 2 4
2 1995–1999 6 12
3 2000–2004 4 8
4 2005–2009 11 22
5 2010–2015 27 54
50 100

Source : Author׳s Fieldwork (2015)

A total of 42 (84%) of the degrees have been awarded from 2000 to the present, with a phenomenal increase shown from 2005. The explanation may be that given the enabling institutional backing, high-quality doctoral outputs tend to have multiplier effects on the production of new PhDs. Table 3 summarizes the thematic analysis of titles of the architecture-related PhDs.

Table 3. Thematic analysis of titles of architecture Doctorates in Nigeria (1990–2015).
Research modules Sub-themes Number of theses Percentage
A Architectural History and Theory Domestic architecture 4 10 20
Ecclesiastical architecture 1
Modern architecture 1
Traditional architecture 4
B Architectural Design and Production Architectural management 1 9 18
Built-environment design/production 2
ICT-related 1
Materials 3
Maintenance 2
C Architectural Science and Technology Architectural climatology 1 6 12
Thermal comfort 2
Sustainable design, energy-related 3
D Housing Studies Informal housing 6 17 34
Private housing 1
Public/low-income housing 9
Student housing 1
E Urban Studies Urban esthetics 1 1 2
F Architectural Education Architectural curriculum 2 3 6
Design studio 1
G Other Specializations Landscape architecture 2 4 8
Disaster-related 2
Total number of theses 50 100

Source : Author׳s Fieldwork (2015)

The largest proportion of the doctoral theses focused on housing studies (34%), followed by architectural theory and history (20%) and architectural design and production (18%). The least-researched areas were urban-related (2%) and architectural education (6%). Table 4 presents a list of some abridged thesis titles covered under each of the seven modules.

Table 4. Subject areas and abridged titles of selected PhD theses in Nigeria (1990–2015).
Research module/ Examples of abridged thesis titles
A Architectural History and Theory (AHT)
  • Modern architecture in Nigeria
  • Spatial/socio-cultural morphology/transformation of living spaces
  • European influence on traditional house forms
  • Continuity and change in Yoruba domestic architecture
  • Domestic architecture in Benin City: continuity and change
  • Ornamentation in Yoruba domestic architecture
  • Trends in the development of ecclesiastical architecture
  • Domestic
  • Ecclesiastical
  • Modern
  • Traditional
B Architectural Design and Production (ADP)
  • Characteristics of architectural firms in Nigeria
  • ICT deployment in architectural firms in Nigeria
  • Sociocultural transformation of traditional food market
  • Stabilized laterite bricks for building cost reduction
  • Material preference options for sustainable low-income housing
  • Compressed stabilized laterite bricks: knowledge and acceptability
  • Maintenance of government office buildings in Nigeria: POE
  • Model of building maintenance of public secondary schools
  • Architectural management
  • Materials
  • ICT-related
  • Maintenance
C Architectural Science and Technology (AST)
  • Systems approach to climate-responsive architectural design
  • Thermal comfort in urban residential buildings in Lagos
  • Adaptive thermal comfort in residential buildings in Ibadan
  • Household energy efficiency practice in Bauchi
  • Operability and maintainability of low-carbon buildings in the UK
  • Framework for assessing sustainability of residential buildings
  • Climatology
  • Sustainability
D Housing Studies (HS)
  • Students׳ residential facilities in Nigerian universities: POE
  • Informal self-help housing; housing tenure in informal settlements
  • Housing for nomads
  • Assessment of core area housing in Ibadan
  • Social production of private low-income housing
  • Housing for low-income civil servants in an emergent state capital
  • Evaluation of selected public housing schemes of LSDPC, Lagos
  • Public housing satisfaction in Lagos
  • Core housing development for low-income public servants
  • Evaluation of public housing in Ogun State
  • Housing transformation and neighborhood in public housing
  • Customization of housing units in mass housing estates
  • Students housing
  • Informal housing
  • Private housing
  • Public housing
E Urban Studies
  • Assessment of urban esthetics in public buildings
F Architectural Education (AE)
  • Assessment of architectural curricula of selected universities
  • Evaluation of architectural curricular and professional competence
  • Design studios in selected schools of architecture
G Other Specializations
  • Open space and implications on landscape planning
  • Landscape characteristics of Lagos lagoon waterfront
  • Effect of flooding on urban housing
  • Housing resilience in flood-prone areas in Northern Nigeria
  • Landscape
  • Disaster-related

Source : Author׳s Fieldwork (2015)

The above-abridged titles are not mutually exclusive, as some of them bridged thematic domains. For example, the thesis on “Students’ residential facilities” (module D) showed an environmental psychology bias, which could be categorized under “Other specializations” (module G). The study on “Social production of private low-income housing” focused on “production” (module B) but in the context of housing (module D).

This analysis revealed the ample room available to widen and deepen many research subject areas, the possibility of which is already being exploited in a few examples, such as the following:

  • Architectural firms in Nigeria (characteristics; ICT deployment);
  • Climate responsive architecture; passive design thermal comfort; energy efficiency;
  • Domestic architecture (different contexts, including Yoruba, Benin, and Hausa; varying themes such as continuity and change; socio-cultural morphology, ornamentation, and others);
  • Public housing evaluation (Akure, Lagos, and Ogun State; satisfaction transformation and others);
  • Informal housing (self-help, nomads, different contexts including Jos, Lagos, and Ibadan);
  • Stabilized laterite bricks (cost reduction; knowledge and acceptability, preferences, and others).

Several other subject areas have been pioneered but remain relatively understudied or have yet to be replicated. These issues relate to building maintenance (two studies examined office and educational facilities), design-studio pedagogy, disaster-related studies, ecclesiastical and modern architecture, housing transformation, and informal housing and sustainability assessment. Urban-related subjects have also not been adequately examined perhaps because of concerns about crossing disciplinary boundaries.

4.2. Explaining choices, coverage, and context

Content analysis of the interviews helps to explain potential influences on the choices of doctoral themes, as well as their coverage and contexts. These themes are discussed in terms of the nature of architecture, candidates’ self-motivation, and the perceived focus on housing. Although a few interrelated factors were identified, all key informants perceived the most dominant influence to be the supervisors’ areas of research. For example, Prof. X said that “it is reasonable to assume that they essentially reflect the interests of the supervisors”. Also, according to Dr. A, “the supervisor’s bias and theoretical inclination comes in [significantly]. coloring the context”.

Another major issue with doctoral research in architecture relates to the nature of architecture itself, the problem of defining what amounts to research in the field and its knowledge base. Prof. Y provides the following insight on the issue:

“Architecture is a discipline, a profession and a form of practice. Any discipline suggests that it has a body of knowledge, which is transferred to others. That body of knowledge, no matter the state of it, is the basis for research. Advancing knowledge is the key thing about doing research… At different times, different areas may gain significance for societal and other reasons. For example, issues relating to evaluation, environment and behavior, and more recently, sustainability have assumed varied levels of attention at different times!”

A related issue is the interdisciplinary nature of architecture and the ongoing debate on what type of knowledge constitutes architecture. However, the consensus is that no matter how architecture is defined, it will always be engaged in several sub-disciplinary areas.

Two of the interviewees perceived the general inability of candidates to make self-motivated choices (confirming Leedy and Ormrod, 2005 ), a reflection of the inadequacy of undergraduate education in terms of its theoretical weakness, such that at the master’s and doctoral levels, the apparent view is that “nothing has been stirred in them all along”. Candidates then tend to fall back on what is assumed to be the easiest, most convenient, or most obvious areas.

The perceived attention given to housing was attributed to factors such as the research inclination of the pioneering PhDs (who subsequently became supervisors), the ubiquitous nature of housing, accessibility to data and literature resources, the knowledge base of architecture, and the idea of housing as context. Upon inception of the doctoral programs in architecture, apart from a few studies in architectural history, many of the initial studies were in the field of housing. The inclination of these pioneering PhDs therefore reflected on the topic selection of their supervisees. Although no deliberate attempt was made to emphasize the housing module, for a particular department, Dr. B opined that

“The idea was not to force students into housing; the idea was to spread everybody so that the department would have lecturers specializing in different areas. However, most people have this notion that housing is the easiest or closest thing to architecture… I also think that the previous PhDs that had been done, except for few done in history, were in housing. It then seemed that housing was the most feasible area.”

In terms of the ubiquitous nature of housing, the problem with its many dimensions allows diverse disciplines to explore it in different ways. According to Prof. X and Dr. C:

“Housing is not a discipline, it is a field of study; it is a real societal problem all over the world… There are many dimensions to the problem of what to study or not to study at doctoral level… As far as the third world is concerned, housing has always been a central problem… each person can bring to it the disciplinary understanding. Housing was just an attractive thing for many reasons, including its wide nature as a field.”

“It is a problem, you see; it is obvious. That is another reason why it has become a very popular topic, especially here. In the Western countries, those things are more settled. They have taken housing more as a ‘market’ controlled by market forces. It is one of the most obvious built-environment problems… hence, something worth studying.”

In addition, housing appears to have been the easiest domain to access data and supporting literature, including support from extant disciplines, and is more amenable to the well-tested survey research approach. Referring to this methodological motive, Dr. B asserts that “[t]here are problems all over the place, but… if you think only along such lines, you’ll think like a positivist and probably stick to housing…” Allied to these concern is the generally myopic view of some practitioners and academics as to what constitutes the knowledge base in architecture. In this regard, Profs. Y and Z offer the following explanations:

“I think the bottomline generally is that architects coming into research from different universities were not so broadly minded to start with. Very few were clear about what architecture as a discipline was, and the diverse aspects of knowledge that we bring to bear on architecture… that in itself made the training of architecture at PhD level a bit myopic… everybody first thinks of housing… they were amazed [to discover] that they could [conduct] research [on] issues outside of housing…”

“People who were before them ventured into housing. Now they are taking on new students; they are more comfortable with them in that area. Unfortunately for us in a place like Nigeria, we have not learned to explore architecture properly. There is a big debate on what to make of design and its knowledge base.”

However, distinguishing between studies that actually focus on housing and those that employ the context of housing to examine different concepts is important. For example, thermal comfort (an architectural science concept) could be examined in different contexts such as housing, hospitals, or schools. Conducting such studies in the context of housing may not necessarily add to the body of knowledge in housing, but rather to the body of knowledge on thermal comfort.

The consensus supports the need to extend research boundaries. For example, Dr. A suggests that “the context does not always have to be housing… there are many research possibilities in the contexts of schools, health facilities, shopping malls. Now we are moving from the traditional market to shopping malls and we might find that people are not adapting to those malls…” Ultimately, the critical issues are to define the contributions of the doctoral dissertations and the bodies of knowledge that they contribute to. An overview of architectural research modules could reveal existing gaps and possible directions for future studies.

4.3. Extending the boundaries

Brief descriptions of seven research modules as derived from the literature and analysis of the contents of journals could further enhance an appreciation of the potentially wide gaps that persist in virtually all the modules especially at the doctoral level in Nigeria. Of course, some research issues, subject areas and topics that bestride multiple modules would be much more suited for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research Doucet et al. (2011) .

Module A: Architectural History and Theory

This module covers areas in architectural criticism, history, historiography and theory, and is often related to cultural or regional contexts, such as Arab, Benin, Egyptian, Hausa, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Yoruba; specific styles such as ancient, domestic, ecclesiastical, Islamic, modern, postmodern, traditional, and vernacular; and varied conceptual, thematic, or theoretical analysis, such as esthetics, architects and their works, architectonics, change and continuity, conservation, culture–nature dualism, dynamics, form, function, heritage, hierarchy, identity, influences, lifestyle theories, meaning, morphology, movements, ornamentation, polemics, space theories, structure, styles, and transformation.

Module B: Architectural Design and Production

This module relates to the design and production of architectural typologies including design-related issues (e.g., collaborative design and design management) and practice (e.g., architectural management and firms); construction materials and innovations, processes, techniques; facilities management; ICT-related issues (e.g., agent-based modeling; building information modeling including intelligent buildings, virtual reality technology and environments); maintenance; project management; sociocultural factors in design and production; space syntax; and sustainable design and refurbishment. Studies often emphasize typologies such as educational, health, hotels, high-rise, industrial, residential, and shopping malls.

Module C: Architectural Science and Technology

This module embraces topics such as adaptive comfort, acoustics, airconditioning use, building codes, building performance, climate-change-related, climate responsiveness, climatology, day lighting, energy efficiency, green buildings, lighting, low-carbon buildings, natural ventilation, open building systems, passive design strategies, science and technologies of materials, smart buildings, structures, sustainable buildings, sustainability assessments, thermal comfort, universal design, and design for accessibility.

Module D: Housing Studies

This module covers a range of contexts (core, incremental, informal, squatter, mass, mixed-income, private, public/social, rental, and students) and concepts (housing affordability, choice, conditions, density, delivery, management, need, policy, preference, quality, satisfaction, supply, and tenure transformation); home ownership; and homelessness. Potential but studied areas include gated communities; housing and the elderly, gender, health, lifestyle, quality of life, safety, and security; and private participation. Despite the preponderance of housing research among the current PhDs, “research shortcomings in housing” (Swenarton, 2009 ) still exist. This condition reflects the insufficient input of architecture into housing design and production in Nigeria in quantitative terms as well as relative to the global scope of research. The breadth and richness of intellectual investigation could further accommodate themes such as housing flexibility, housing typologies, housing psychology, housing futures, and themes that link research and practice.

Module E: Urban Studies

This module covers issues at the scales of neighborhoods, streets, squares, suburban or urban, and may be in terms of esthetics, design, dynamics, landscape, legibility, regeneration, renewal, sense of community, socio-spatial patterns, sustainability, transformation, and urbanism. This module is the least-researched perhaps because of concerns about crossing disciplinary boundaries. However, what may be more important than the issue of scope is the conceptual framework or perspective upon which specific studies are based.

Module F: Architectural Education

This module has been widely investigated globally but is yet to receive commensurate attention in Nigeria. Apart from two doctoral theses on architecture curriculum and one on design studio pedagogy, other potential researchable issues include creativity, design process, design thinking, form creation, greening the curriculum, jury systems, learning approaches/styles (e.g., e-, m-, and practice-based learning), spatial ability, teaching practices, urban design studio, virtual design studio education, and visual thinking.

Module G: Other Specializations

This module consists of subject areas that have progressed substantially in their content and methodologies to have gained disciplinary independence as legitimate specializations. These include disaster-related studies (earthquake-resistant buildings, flood resilience, post-disaster housing, resilience and vulnerability); environment-behavior studies (defensible space, place attachment, place identity, POEs, and sense of place); facility management; interior architecture/design; landscape architecture/planning; outdoor spaces; and site design/planning.

However, this analysis supports the interrelationships between the research modules, hence the interdisciplinary nature of the architectural research field. Olotuah and Ajenifujah (2009) , for example, link the architectural education discourse (module F) to housing provision in Nigeria (module D). Although the preceding descriptions of the modules are not exhaustive, they provide a useful basis to evaluate the coverage, scope, and status of current research as exemplified in the doctoral studies conducted, especially over the last few decades. Compared with the array and spread of studies reported in the 45 journals examined, the current scope of doctoral research in architecture in Nigeria appears limited relative to the potential areas of coverage. A wide expanse of unexplored terrain and underutilized resources exist that are available for research, especially at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels. This unexplored terrain is expected to motivate budding researchers and their supervisors in framing innovative research proposals and projects more effectively.

5. Conclusion

This study explored through a literature review the research domains in architecture and the issues related to doctoral research, with a view to extending the discourses that could enhance the setting of realistic research agenda in the Nigerian context. The study involved descriptive and thematic (qualitative) analysis of the titles and abstracts of completed PhDs in architecture in this country, produced from 1990 to the present, as well as semi-structured interviews with six key informants. The study revealed an emphasis on housing-related research relative to other domains such as history and theory, design and construction, and science and technology. It also reflected the limited coverage, spread, and scope of current research on architecture in Nigeria relative to the global terrain as depicted in the range of research areas and issues as reflected by the contents and titles of 45 architecture-related journals.

The results of the interviews indicate that among various interrelated factors, the most dominant influence on the choices of research topics was the areas of interest of supervisors. Particularly, the perceived focus on housing was attributed to the research inclination of the pioneering PhDs; the ubiquitous nature of housing; accessibility of data and literature resources; fluidity in the knowledge base of architecture; and the idea that housing can either serve as a context or assume the substantive subject of research. The consensus is that extending the scope and boundaries of architectural research at the doctoral level would be beneficial for the architectural discipline and profession in Nigeria. The unique place and multidisciplinary nature of housing within the research domain may be perceived as an area of strength rather weakness if this domain can be enhanced by in-depth and socially relevant research. Given the potential for inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary approaches to research in both architecture and housing, the broad spectrum of subject areas and researchable issues highlighted in this study could serve as a springboard for budding doctoral and other researchers to have a strong foothold in the field, and for collaborative research teams to further extend the boundaries of knowledge.


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