Information and architectural design - a study of certain theoretical aspects
The shortcomings of the ways in which design-related information is conventionally collected and organised into a brief suggest that information and design should not be looked at in isolation of each other but together with all their dynamic dimensions. The first step in the direction of such a total view is to identify every kind of determinant of design and describe their inter-relations. The determinants of architectural design may be listed as follows s a) factors in the spirit of of architectural vocation which individualise designers; b) factors belonging to the collective consciousness of architects as professionals; c) functional/practical aspects of design; d) information on qualitative aspects of design. Conventional studies of design-related information deal exclusively with the functional/ practical aspects, but the development of a valid theory of architect¬ ural design requires that the other three aspects are studied and their inter-relations described. Factors of architectural vocation which individualise architects may be explained in terms of what in psychology is known as 'schematization'. The terra 'schema1 enables us to explore observable patterns or regularities in the predilections and perceptions of architects. When applied to architectural situations the notion of schema shows that the past experience of an architect consistently reveals itself in model solutions of different kinds which can be analysed and classi¬ fied, and the implications of their employment can be established. Under certain circumstances some of these personal models gain the respect of the profession at large and become highly influential in shaping the collective consciousness of the profession. At any stage of architectural development the components of the implicit knowledge embedded in emergent models may be specified. Further, the emergent models when identified and described yield design concepts rich in implicative power. By including the desirable attributes of emergent models as part of a design programme it is possible to increase the effectiveness of the thought process followed by architects. Thus concepts which describe unique qualities of an emergent model provide us with a way of enlarging the traditional notion of information for design. Moving on to consider information on qualitative aspects, past theories of architecture show that 'increasing the effectiveness of functional/practical aspects' and 'creating special effects, enhancing users' interest in the building and producing impact' are the two purposes of the qualitative features of an environment. Any environment can be described in terms of -universal features like elements, relations, abstract qualities such as privacy or monumentality, and actions and events that take place in the particular environment. By combining these disparate entities we obtain a feature/function model of architectural quality and show how it can be used in the process of design and as an evaluative tool. Finally as a last step towards the consideration of information and design in all their complexity, we attempt to analyse how verbally formulated requirements are transformed into architectural solutions. Through an exploration of the role of emergent models and a study of the part played by interpersonal communication between architects, clients and users in the design activity, we offer a theoretical explanation of factors affecting the transformation of written briefs into ideas for buildings. Thus the central concern of this thesis is with the interrelation between factors of architectural vocation which individualise designers, factors belonging to the collective consciousness of the profession, and the underlying rules or laws governing the creation of architectural quality. All the conclusions are theoretical in nature? they attempt to bring together accepted knowledge, facts and research findings on the nature of design, and as such pose problems of evaluation. To overcome these we impose the requirements of agreement with facts, generality, parsimony, consistency and explanatory value on each theoretical conclusion. These criteria, besides being tools of self-criticism, point out difficulties, omissions and achievements of each conclusion and suggest areas of needed research.