One of the most refreshing articles I have read recently: a full on comparison between two people; two projects and two conflicting ideologies. But, most importantly, a reflection on how design decisions are informed and in turn inform our thinking and living under the underlying -and quite ironic if I may add- contradiction between ideals and the real world. Excellent read.
(…) However, by entrusting the objectivity* of the morphogenesis to the sphere of nature, and in fact to theories that are far too general to be productive and useful, architecture is stranded on the shores of a programmatic bewilderment: if it does not focus on the production of forms, but on the natural and hence objective rules* of morphogenesis, all architectural outcomes and all that they entail are rendered fair and equal: this signifies the annulment of the field of meaning. And because meaning is a social construct, that which is pushed aside by the impetuous return of the natural is, precisely, the social -it is society, it is history (…) However, in the proposed process of natural morphogenesis, the architectural forms do not realise a project but are the outcome of the construction of events, as algorithmic interpretations of information data. The architect is given a new responsibility -not to design the forms but to prepare a bare field of possibilities on which the forces of reality will develop on objective* terms. The resolution of conflicts results into a valid though un-planned, unforeseen, uncanny and consequently estranging architectural form. In contrast, in the practised strategies of architectural design, where subjective* initiative is required by the designer, the construction of the uncanny, of the unexpected and the unforeseen, the estrangement or the paroxysm of architecture’s inherent indeterminability aims to alter conventional socio-spatial relations and differential meaning-giving outcomes (…) This acrobatic, risky relationship between intention and coincidence, between the design’s theoretical abstraction and the existence of reality’s multiple parameters, between natural disorder and intellectual order, perhaps between desire and need -this is what the introduction of the mythologised diagram is attempting to determine in digital strategies: it is an idea bordering on a game, a pseudoscientific mechanism of protestant deincrimination for the abundant pleasures provided by the exceptional new voluptuous spatial experiences of digital design, a ruse aiming to prevent the abolition of the responsibility of designing and to restore the designer’s initiative.
*Are the rules of morphogenesis indeed objective? or just a logical (con)sequence of events based on voluntary data interpretation? In this case, the design process -traditional or digital- is always subjective.
Read full paper here
Excerpts of the Wouter Vanstiphout interview to Rory Hyde (MVRDV) for the Australian design review in 2011. Full article available here
If you really want to change the city, or want a real struggle, a real fight, then it would require re-engaging with things like public planning for example, or re-engaging with government, or re-engaging with large-scale institutionalised developers. I think that’s where the real struggles lie, that we re-engage with these structures and these institutions, this horribly complex ‘dark matter’. That’s where it becomes really interesting (…) I do believe that architecture and design as a combination of pure speculation, rhetorical poetics and technical capacity, could play a role in politics. It could re-shape certain discussions and therefore create its own inevitability (…) I don’t think architects have to shed their visionary status, their ‘good’ arrogance, or their speculative powers, if only they would realise that things are contextual! Acknowledge the fact that the deepest meaning in what they do is directly related to the context in which they do it.
Wouter Vanstiphout is member of Crimson Historians & Urbanists and professor of Design as Politics at TU Delft
Students protest the classical pastiche designs made for the Medical School (1968) at the University of Louvain/ University agrees to the formation of a student committee/ Students produce a counterproposal by Lucien Kroll who had no ties to the University/ Kroll organises collaborators and students into teams and turns design into an assemblage of disparate political fractions/ Work is done in his studio at a distance from the institution to ensure freedom/ Collaboration becomes “a kind of architectural method acting” accepting every outcome even if it defies prevailing arch conventions (de Graaf)/ Kroll, when denied the participation of le Roy, his preferred gardener, also engages the adjacent community into participating in the landscape component/ For two years this is an harmonious collaboration/ However, University representatives who visit the site oppose the outcome and the budget increase and fire Kroll/ Kroll exposes the contractor for high pricing but is then accused of vandalising the building site during his open call to the neighbouring community/ The building is highly criticised as a “failed experiment” and “less than a sum of its parts” (de Graaf)/ Petitions for the building’s demolition are opposed by massive support (Excerpts from Reinier de Graaf’s book: Four Walls and a Roof)
In a DOMUS article dated back in 2010, Kroll is presented as “icon of democratic architecture”:
Communication through architecture is an eminently political act, Kroll maintains: the architect is the catalyst of a creative process and social dynamic, in respect to which they make their knowledge available for the translation of interpersonal relationships into a suitable space (…) architects must step out of themselves and put themselves in the shoes of future residents.Full article available here
Four philosophical models of the human:
- mechanistic model: the human as a task-oriented organism, understood and described only in relation to the task at hand/ human as a passive agent merely enacting the designer’s plan of use and having no agency
- perceptual-cognitive-motivational model: the human as an ‘internal processing organism’ with subjective traits
- behaviorist model: this focused on external human actions in the environment instead of internal thoughts and feelings and intentions. (it does not identify however with Skinner’s operant psychology)/ Altman classifies here all action-centric and interactionalist descriptions of human engagements with the environment without excluding intentions and motivational states
- ecological model: declared human behavior and environment a mutually constituting, dynamic ensemble/ Behavior itself, in other words, resided in the relation between the human and social and material contexts/ this model promoted an agentive understanding of the human/ Altman also emphasized its model’s utility for establishing a common ground among social scientists and designers thus cultivating the conditions of interdisciplinary collaboration/ it offered a reconciliatory mechanism between the unit and the whole, the small and the large scale, analysis and synthesis, thus urging scientists and practitioners to “surpass the provincialism of their parent professions”
Vardouli, Th., 2016. User Design: Constructions of the “user” in the history of design research. In 2016 Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference, 27-30 June 2016, Brighton, UK
Image available here
Bricolage implies that :
- design is in crisis: the standard social science methods are not well adapted to the new realities of global complexity which contains new concepts that they define, such as the “multiple“, the “distributed” and the “emotional“/ design research has relied on established methods from other disciplines however, it is not about the variety of methods available as it is about the hegemonic and dominatory pretensions of certain versions or accounts of method/ some methods, although extremely good, fail to appropriate the ephemeral, the indefinite and the irregular/ educationally that has resulted in a refocusing on understanding how design can address social, economic and political issues; what kind of future world we want to live in/ understand-improve-apply the practice of design has become what is the nature of design? (Law + Urry)
- designs is undisciplined: it has always had to draw knowledge from other disciplines, initially through a lack of existing subject knowledge and lately due to a refocusing on larger, more difficult social issues/ Buchanan: design is the last liberal art, meaning a discipline of thinking that may be shared to some degree by all men and women in their daily lives and is in turn mastered by a few people who practice the discipline with distinctive insight and sometimes advance it to new areas of innovative applications/ design acts as an agent of change due to design’s ability to synthesize understanding from the natural world with understanding of the human condition/ the SEVEN ROLES of the designer: facilitator-researcher-co-creator-communicator-strategist-capability builder-enterpreneur (Buchana, Banerjee, Fry)
- design is maturing: the study of the discipline is scientifically based and the accumulated knowledge is subject to criticism/ the practice of the discipline is unrestricted as to the area of application/ both study and practice give active consideration to the social problems and ramifications/ there is a growing number of phds and a growing number of related journals and conferences/ design can only exist outside its disciplinary boundaries to be effective (Kernan)
Yee, J.S.R., Bremner, C., 2011. Methodological Bricolage – What does it tell us about Design? In Doctoral Design Education Conference, 23-25 May 2011, Hong Kong Polytechnic, Hong Kong, available here
Image available here
The design process is best described metaphorically as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series or orderly steps. The spaces demarcate different sorts of related activities that together form the continuum of innovation (…) Design projects must ultimately pass through three spaces: inspiration, ideation and implementation. Projects will loop back through these spaces -particularly the first two-more than once as ideas are refined and new directions taken.
Brown, T., 2008. Design Thinking. In Harvard Business Review, June 2008, pp. 84-95
The DD diagram was developed in 2005 at the UK Design Council (ref)
The process of divergence and convergence are associated with key moments in the design process. Discover and develop phases correspond to divergent processes while define and distribute phases are convergent (…) The path is no longer linear, simply because successive iterations are needed to frame the problem and the solution. (Van der Linden, et al., 2016)
The diagram indicates that the process between divergent and convergent thinking happens twice -once to confirm the problem definition and once to create the solution.
- In the Discover quarter designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things and gather insights
- In the Define quarter designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the previous phase (prioritize)
- In the Develop quarter solutions and concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated (trial and error phase)
- In the Deliver quarter signals the phase where the resulting product is finalized, produced and launched.
Van der Linden, J.C.D.S., Lacerda, A.P., Aguiar, J.P.O., 2011. The evolution of design methods. Paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the European Academy of Design, Porto
Clinical_FOR DESIGN RESEARCH: focuses on design problems that are specific and individual cases requiring information for that unique situation/ primarily prescriptive research methods for specific and feasible design solutions (Downton)/ Notably, research for design is the category of research that most practitioners and many academics associate with the term “Design Research”/ Many of the methods briefly mentioned in this section could generate findings that are relevant beyond the scope of one clinical situation, but often they are inadequately developed in practice.
Applied_THROUGH DESIGN RESEARCH: focuses on investigating general classes of design problems or products. The common trait of applied research is the [systematic] attempt to gather from many individual cases a hypothesis or several hypotheses that may explain how a class of products takes place/ The most important aspect of research through design is that it seeks to provide an explanation or theory within a broader context/ Buchanan calls it Dialectic Science or Productive Science and includes the study of form and function in relation to human activity, as well as the study of materials/ it is derived from and valuable for practice; it is growing rapidly; both practitioners and researchers are contributing significantly to the literature and on-line discussions; the discussion is extensive, addressing hundreds of approaches; and much of the subject matter has been derived from the social sciences, business, and marketing/ In her evolving map of design research methods, Sanders represents the range of attitudes towards human-oriented design, from the expert mindset and the participatory mindset, in both research-led and design-led inquiries/
Basic_ABOUT DESIGN RESEARCH: research about or into design as the work that is “carried out under the heading of other disciplines/ searching for “an explanation in the experience of designers and those who use products”/ designers may also raise questions that are not characteristic of other disciplines because often the answers are translated into form, colour, and the objects that surround us. This affords practitioners, students, and educators with the challenge to produce discipline specific knowledge that may be communicated by drawings, sketches, models, and other visual representations embodying non-verbal codes or messages as well
Frankel, L., Racine, M., 2010. The Complex Field of Research: for Design, through Design, and about Design. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Design Research Society, Montréal, July 2010.
Image available here
Design proceeds by conjecture-analysis than by analysis-synthesis (…) if research is to make an impact on design it must influence designers at the pre-structuring and conjectural stages (…) regardless the quality of research work itself, the history of attempts to link research to improvements in environmental action is largely one of confusion and failure (…) there is a widespread feeling that an ‘applicability gap’ has developed between research and design (…) far from being removed from the field of science, the cognitive schemes by which we interpret the world and pre-structure our observations are increasingly seen to be the essential subject matter of science (…) we cannot escape from the fact that designers must, and do, pre-structure their problems in order to solve them (…) Popper: science could be contained within a hypothetico-deductive scheme/ Kuhn: science as a puzzle solving activity until the next paradigm switch/ Lakatos: science as conflicting sets of inter-related theories (…) the object of science is cognition (…) remaking cognition (…) SO FAR: the role of scientific work is to provide factual information that can be assimilated into design; second that a rationalised design process, able to assimilate such information, would characteristically and necessarily proceed by decomposing a problem into its elements, adding an information content to each element drawn as far as possible from scientific work, and “synthesizing” a solution by means of a set of logical or procedural rules (…) design as we know it can be seen as the socially differentiated transformation of the reflexive cognition of the maker in terms of the latent possibilities of his tools, materials and object types. Its object is not the building, but at one remove, sets of instructions for the building (…) NOW: we can imagine a man and an object he will create as though separated by a space which is filled, on the one hand, with tools and raw materials which we can call his ‘instrumental set’, (or perhaps technological means) and on the other, a productive sequence or process by which an object may be realized (…) we would argue that design is essentially a matter of pre-structuring problems either by a knowledge of solution types or by a knowledge of the latencies of the instrumental set in relation to solution types, and that is why the process of design is resistant to the inductive-empiricist rationality so common in the field. A complete account of the designer’s operations during design, would still not tell us where the solution came from (…) the polarization between rational and intuitive design should be reformulated as a polarity between reflexive design and non-reflexive design (…) four main types of elements: instrumental sets, solution types, codes and information (…) at this point of time a building is a climate modifier, a behavior modifier, a cultural modifier ad a resource modifier
Hillier, B., Musgrove, J., O’ Sullivan, P., 1972. Knowledge and Design. In William Mitchell (ed.), Environmental design: Research and Practice, edra3/ar8 conference, UCLA, January 1972
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RCA Report on the nature of design with a capital D
- central concern is “the conception and realization of new things”
- it encompasses the appreciation of “material culture” and the application of “the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing.”
- at its core is the ‘language’ of ‘modelling’; it is possible to develop students’ aptitudes in this ‘language’, equivalent to aptitudes in the ‘language’ of the sciences – numeracy – and the ‘language’ of humanities – literacy
- design has its own distinct ‘things to know, ways of knowing them, and ways of finding out about them’
Education in any of these ‘cultures’ entails the following three aspects:
- the transmission of knowledge about a phenomenon of study
- a training in the appropriate methods of enquiry
- an initiation into the belief systems and values of the ‘culture’
If we contrast the sciences, the humanities, and design under each aspect, we may become clearer of what we mean by design, and what is particular to it.
the phenomenon of study in each culture is:
- in the sciences: the natural world
- in the humanities: human experience
- in design: the man-made world
the appropriate methods in each culture are:
- in the sciences: controlled experiment, classification, analysis
- in the humanities: analogy, metaphor, criticism, evaluation
- in design: modelling, pattern-formation, synthesis
the values of each culture are:
- in the sciences: objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and a concern for ‘truth’
- in the humanities: subjectivity, imagination, commitment, and a concern for ‘justice’
- in design: practicality, ingenuity, empathy, and a concern for ‘appropriateness’
Perhaps it would be better to regard the ‘third culture’ as technology, rather than design (…) Technology involves a synthesis of knowledge and skills from both the sciences and the humanities, in the pursuit of practical tasks.
Cross, N., 1982. Designerly ways of knowling. In Design Studies, Vol. 3, no. 4 pp. 221-227
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Design Process by divonis.com! Great Link!