We do not view research and practice as distinct ideas. For us research is design, we design through research and design research to solve problems. These problems are often urban in nature, involving multiple stakeholders and bring into question fundamental issues pertaining to habitat. For us to tackle this messy, complex reality of working in India necessitates a process that learns from the context, engages stakeholders, provides a space for reconciliation of conflicts while keeping people & their ecosystem firmly in the centre of it all. In the sense, design becomes a form of re-search, finding new ways to engage with everyday realities.
Habitat Research, an interdisciplinary study on environmental, socio-economic, technical and cultural dimensions of the built environment is an integral aspect of SpaceMatters design practice and advocacy. This connect between practice and research is especially necessary in the Indian context given the paradigm shift that has resulted from massive, unprecedented urbanization. Very often outcomes of pure research stay removed from ground realities and on the flip side many habitat interventions are undertaken in a narrowly defined project framework with little scope for attention to the wider context and consequences. In order to bridge the gap in 2010 SpaceMatters co-founded the foundation, ARCHILab - Action Research for Critical Habitat Intervention. As professionals engaged in the field our approach is one of Action Research which recognizes the need for an incremental approach based on inquiry, interventions , analysis of outcomes and dissemination.