Ina Klaasen’s Modelling Reality


Models: Definition

a simplified rendering of reality – present or future- is called a ‘model’ of that reality, provided that a structural relatedness exists with that reality and that the model is based on conscious interpretation of that reality

Kinds of models:

  • verbal: a discourse in words
  • mathematical: made up by numbers or symbols, all computer models are mathematical models
  • spatial: a spatial rendering of three dimensional reality on scale, all architectural designs and maps
  • mechanical: is a model functioning in analogy with its original, a  spatial model with the fourth dimension of time.

Types of models in relation to reality:

  • concrete:spatial and mechanical, composed of empirical identities, they correspond to matter
  • model: conceptual as in verbal, mathematical, spatial and mechanical, a mental construction (theory, sketch) referring to (past, present, future) reality, composed of conceptual identities, they correspond to comprehension. all two-dimensional spatial models are thought models.
  • formal: mathematical models, it is an uninterpreted syntactic system of symbols, it corresponds to abstract names, like the concept of a ‘point’

Functions of models:

  • descriptive: maps the existing situation
  • explicative: it addresses the ‘why’ and or ‘because of what’
  • predictive or probable-projective: what will probably happen based on insight
  • intentional-projective: it is a model for a situation deemed desirable, it does not yet exist
  • explorative-potential-projective: what is the case, what might be the case, future possibilities

Klaasen claims that the choice which type of model to use depends on “the intention with which reality is approached, the function the model must perform and personal preference of the person making the model.” She also goes on to say that  “mis-conceptions may occur about the possibilities as well as on the limitations of designs and analyses: model overextension”. (see figure above)


References & Image

Klaasen, I., 2002, ‘Modelling Reality’, in T.T. de Jong and D.J.M. Van der Voort (eds), “Ways to Study and Research Architectural”, Urban and Technical Design, Delft University Press, Netherlands


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