This paper presents a series of interrelated architectural design studios and technology electives at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) that ran over three years from 2009 to 2011. They involved a long running, live project partnership with Ku-ring-gai Council and integrated student collaboration with local fabricators, culminating in the 2014 construction of a prototypical park structure at Greengate Park in Killara, Sydney. In the context of the live project, the role of prototyping is explored as a specific form of inquiry-based learning that may optimise learning experiences applicable to architectural design and facilitate creative outcomes through linking teaching and research. It is increasingly being introduced into university architecture courses as an analogy to the activities employed by innovative professionals in architecture but the impressive visual imagery of student prototypes being produced is often divorced from any consideration of a broader theoretical context that might allow an assessment of pedagogical value. The question remains whether deep learning is occurring and whether the teaching processes and learning outcomes successfully link teaching and research. This paper identifies factors in the UTS case studies that influenced the students’ learning experiences and their development of the research skills necessary for practice-based research in architecture.