Transdisciplinary Research in the Built Environment: A Question of Time
Journal article, 2018

In this article, we reflect on 14 years of experience with transdisciplinary research in the built environment. We critically consider challenges and pitfalls in relation to normative definitions of transdisciplinary research derived from the literature. Our experiences from five transdisciplinary research projects are presented with a focus on each project’s aim, size, organization of work, and funding. Results show that different kinds of transdisciplinary research approaches co-exist and that these can serve different purposes and situations. In most cases, transdisciplinary projects lead to raised levels of awareness of the complexity of real-world problems among participating partners. In some cases, the outcome is a useful innovation, in order to support such innovation, a focus on real cases is encouraged. However, there might be a trade-off between the focused attention on a real case and the maintained interest among diverse participants in a larger project. An important insight is that innovation and knowledge development through transdisciplinary settings take time. It is favourable for the development of networks, common visions, trust, and innovation if consecutive transdisciplinary projects can be arranged with the same partners. We conclude the article by providing practical guidelines to support the management of transdisciplinary projects.

consecutive projects

built environment

sustainable renovation

practical experiences

transdisciplinary research

innovation processes


Paula Femenias

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Liane Thuvander

Research - Architectural Theory and Method

Technology Innovation Management Review

1927-0321 (ISSN)

Vol. 8 8 27-40

Architecture in the Making: Architecture as a Making Discipline and Material Practice

Formas (259-2011-75), 2011-04-01 -- 2017-12-31.

National Transdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Integrated Sustainable Renovation (SIRen)

Formas (2013-1804), 2014-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.

Nordic Built – Sustainable Transformation and Environmental Design (STED)

Nordic Innovation (NB14061), 2015-01-01 -- 2017-12-31.

Strategies for Integrated Sustainable Renovation: Focus on the Swedish domestic building stock ‘folkhemmet’ in the pre‐boom era

Centre for Management of the Built Environment (CMB), 2010-07-01 -- 2014-03-31.

Region Västra Götaland, 2010-07-01 -- 2014-03-31.

Bebo - Beställaregruppen bostäder, 2010-07-01 -- 2013-12-31.

Formas (244-2010-252), 2010-07-01 -- 2014-03-31.

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Other Civil Engineering

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)




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