Authors: Thierry Lagrange, Prof. dr., KU Leuven; Jo Van Den Berghe, Prof. dr., KU Leuven

Category: Group position statement

The position statement of the KU Leuven Faculty/Department of Architectur with regards to the conference theme of Reformulations is closely connected with the aforementioned circles of observation (see CA2RE conference Gent 2019).

Reformulation vs circles of observation

This interacting and communicating operates within an integrated set of concentric circles of observation.

  • The first circle of observation, the inner circle, is occupied by the PhD candidate, who performs research actions and observes his/her research actions.
  • The second circle of observation consists of the members of the supervisory team, who observe the actions and observations of the PhD candidate, and by discussing these, also observe and callibrate their own supervisory activities.
  • The third circle of observation consists of the panel members (academia) at the doctoral presentations, performed during the events as outlined in this project (Learning Teaching Training Events). These panel members observe the candidate’s actions and observations, and contribute to the observations of the supervisory team that is present at the PhD candidate’s presentations.
  • The fourth circle of observation consists of the group of peers who witness the candidate’s doctoral presentations, who observe the candidate’s actions and observations, and the panel’s actions and observations, and hence contribute to the callibaration of the doctoral process through ongoing discussions at the formal and informal moments of the events as outlined in this funding application (Learning Teaching Training Events).
  • The fifth circle of observation consists of reporters, as outlined in this funding application, who observe the aforementioned four circles, and who contribute to the transmission of the observations ongoing in the previous circles of observation, doing so both inwards (loops of feedback into the different circles of observation) and outwards, i.e. transferring new knowledge to society.

Due to the integrated nature of these circles of observation an integrated system of callibration and validation is established through a sequence of reformulations between all the stakeholders (circles) of the observation system. This is key to come to a validation principle wherein knowledge production is made explicit through repeated reformulations, understood, accepted and transmitted. This integrated process of observations has been developed, applied and tested in order to systematically rehearse and sharpen the research through a repetitive process of reformulations.

On an institutional level

The aforementioned repetitive process of reformulations through a series of circles of observations has been institutionalized at the Faculty of Architecture KU Leuven through installing the following milestones/benchmarks of each PhD process in which reformulating the state of the reseach constitutes the core of the benchmark moment:

  • 9 months milestone
  • mid term presentation (24 months)
  • second oral presentation (36 months)
  • preliminary defence
  • public defence (48 months)

In between these milestones supervisors organize doctoral seminars where several PhD students are brought together in order to formulate the state of the art of the research to their peers (supervisor, co-supervisor, assessors and PhD candidates). Out of these presentations conversations occur in which the candidate needs to reformulate (i.e. strengthening and deepening the formulations) based on the input that has been given his/her peers. These reformulations already guarantee a momentum for the subsequent step of the research.

These reformulations not only aim for a critical assessment and a constructive argumentation but also create, produced in a context of design driven research, new perspectives towards inclusions of speculation, facing indistinctness, serendipities, intuitive approaches of the research.

At KU Leuven Department of Architecture the research group The Drawing and The Space ( Critical Sequential Drawing (Van Den Berghe et al. 2020) as a specific drawing technique has been developed with which PhD students and Master students produce reformulations by drawing. This drawing method builds on the application of the iterative and cyclical processes as developed in the Lewinian learning cycles (Kolb 1984).

Gent, 5.7.2021
Prof. dr. Jo Van Den Berghe & Prof. dr. Thierry Lagrange


Kolb, David A (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. 1 edition. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Van Den Berghe J, Sanders M, Luyten L (2020) Windows into an Architecture of Darkness and Depthe through Critical Sequential Drawing, Des Traces et des Hommes Imaginaires du Château de Selles. Editors: Cornier, Alice. 1: 34-43. Silvana Editoriale, Milan.