On the role that specific domain knowledge and procedural strategies play in defining the episodic nature of architectural design formulation
Soza Ruiz, Pedro Alejandro
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This dissertation presents a study of design activity based on the analyses of fifty-six design processes taken from fourteen designers which were give four related architectural problems. The motivating interest was to investigate what is specifically distinctive about the architectural design process, with a focus on how the activity is organized or planned, and on how knowledge of different kind and external visual representations—sketches—are brought into play. These considerations and interests are derived from the assumption that the cognitive processes underlying the design activity are embodied and distributed throughout the materials and techniques used for the purpose. Findings reveal that the design activity is structured episodically, a feature that is not yet discussed adequately within extant literature on the topic. Episodes are described as forms of continuous activity grounded in specific forms of external representations and addressing a cluster of related sub-problems. Results also showed that unfamiliar tasks and settings generated larger number of episodes, which is conformity with the thesis that architects address novel design challenges by breaking up the overall design task into a number of smaller and more familiar sub-tasks, but that this restructuring emerges during the context of the design. Further findings concern the nature of these episodes. Episodes were found to fall into three main types, those concerned with issues of program and spatial organization, those concerned with site and physical context, and those with formulating broad goals. The quality of the designs depended not so much on the number of such episodes, or their order, but on their richness measured in terms of the number of design issues addressed within them and their variety.