One Step Forward and Three Back: A Study of the Patterns of Interdisciplinary Conceptual Design
Design activity, particularly at the early stages of a project, is recognised as being dynamic, highly iterative and non-linear. However, under the rigours and pressures of the contemporary project environment, designers are being urged to undertake early design activity in a far more programmable, and thus manageable, fashion. Within this environment iterative, or cyclic, design progression is often criticised, with the concept of ‘going round in circles’ being one that is generally discouraged (Hickling, 1982). However, design is a learning activity and, owing to the complexity of contemporary building projects, it is often only by moving ahead to improve knowledge of the problem, before taking a step back to re-address a problem with improved understanding, that the design process can progress (Lawson, 1980). This is possibly the most commonly recognised type of iterative design progression among design researchers and practitioners. However, there are many other types of iterative design progression that are common to early-stage design activity. For the last two years the MDP (Mapping the Design Process during the conceptual phase of building projects) research project has endeavoured to improve understanding of conceptual design activity. It has been undertaken at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, in close collaboration with Loughborough University and a number of construction industry firms. The research team has gathered empirical evidence which suggests that, although every design project is unique, there are commonalties within the iterative structure of periods of design progression across projects.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Austin S, Steele J, Macmillan S, Kirby P, Spence R (1999) Using training workshops to map interdisciplinary team working. In: Proceedings of Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers National Conference, 1999. Harrogate, UK, pp 38–49Google Scholar
- Austin S, Steele J, Macmillan S, Kirby P, Spence R (2000) Mapping the conceptual design activity of interdisciplinary teams. Accepted for publication in Design StudiesGoogle Scholar
- Hickling A (1982) Beyond a linear iterative proces. In: Evans et al. (eds.) Changing Design. John Wiley, Chichester UKGoogle Scholar
- Lawson B (1980) How Designers Think. The Architectural Press Ltd., London UKGoogle Scholar
- Macmillan S, Steele J, Austin S, Kirby P, Spence R (1999) Mapping the early stages of the design process - A comparison between engineering and construction. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Engineering Design 1999. Munich, Germany, pp 1175–1178Google Scholar
- Macmillan S, Steele J, Austin S, Kirby P, Spence R (2000) Development of a conceptual design framework. Accepted for publication in Design StudiesGoogle Scholar
- RIBA (1969) Plan of work for Design Team Operation - Royal Institute of British Architects. Original EditionGoogle Scholar
- Schön DA (1983)The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Basic Book New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Steele J, Austin S, Macmillan S, Kirby P, Spence R (1999) Interdisciplinary Interaction during Concept Design. In: Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference of the Association of Researchers in construction management 1999. Liverpool, UK, pp 297–305Google Scholar
- Steele J, Austin S, Macmillan S, Kirby P, Spence R (2000) An internet-based system to support interdisciplinary and inter-organisational collaborative conceptual design. In: Proceedings of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers National Conference 2000. DublinGoogle Scholar