Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Design Strategies

Many or all of the strategies below are obviously specific to certain design goals and philosophies (and a specific culture/time). They are by no means "universal".



1. Keep it moving, avoid static cycling. Add something new to the idea each time. Shift scales (e.g. between focus on whole design and specific details).
2. Identify implicit assumptions, and question them.
3. Systematically explore and change each aspect of the situation (turn around, upside down, change numbers, etc). Also identify, question and explore the implications of changes of the underlying assumptions (your, your client's, your society/culture's assumptions).
4. Choose to let go of every/any idea. If it returns later, then explore further.
5. Saturation > gestation > illumination. Gestation: Explore as many aspects of the situation as possible. Feed your mind information from a variety of sources - including (systematic and/or intuitive) visual (e.g. drawing) and tactile (models) exploratios. Allow your mind to sit with the problem, and come up with a solution (often unexpected and/or out of the blue). Cycle through until satisfied or the deadline.
6. Develop a clear hierarchy of organizing principles. These are limited in number (keep it simple and manageable). Integrate each aspect of the design into the top level principles, and many into the lower level principles.
7. Solutions work at specific scales, and some at many scales.
8. Draw an abstract representation of the situation (from your direct experience), and explore the drawing. What does it tell you? What happens when you change aspects (upside-down, angle, change proportions, edges etc). See Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards.
9. Systematically apply a set of rules throughout the design, with variations. Explore different balances between recognizeable order and variations/randomness/playfulness.
10. FL Wright: Tartan grid and interlocking (interpenetrating) spaces.
11. Look at movement, rhythm, transformations and tesselations (variations on tile patterns). Take a known design (nature, graphic, built) and transform it - explore its possibilities.

Specific to 2D/3D Design

1. First design space that supports human activities, then use architectural elements to define that space.
2. Look for what is unique with the site, client, program etc.
3. Use organizing principles or lines (datum lines).
4. Look at figure/ground interactions.
5. Suggest space rather than fully define it (let the user's/viewer's mind fill in the rest).
6. Layers of meaning and discovery. Designs that keep the interest of the users. Allow the person using the space to continually discover something new (layers of discovery).
7. Roof height and shape reflects activity below (Seating, individual space, or storage - low. Standing, group space, or need for a certain light - high).
8. Design from (a) "inside - out" and (b) "outside-in". (a)Look at the spaces that will support certain activities and how they may be connected, then design the architectural elements that will define this space. (b) Design from outside-in by looking at the natural and built surroundings. Adopt the unwritten "rules" set up by these in the public face of the design (or do something different if there is a good reason for it. Allow the building to contribute to the fabric of the neighborhood.
10. Exlplore the edge-to-central space ratios that may be appropriate for a certain use of the space, then forms that embodies this ratio. (Central space most important - then cube or circle. Edge space more important, then narrower spaces and more convoluted edges).
11. Look at how buildings define open space (figure-ground). Connect inside and outside public spaces.


1. Use broken lines to suggest form
2. White spots in the shades gives shimmering effect.
3. Decide on a particular focus. Creat focus through higher contrast and/or more details
4. Vary the lineweight. A darker lineweight can indicate (a) foreground (atmospheric perspective), (b) depth of space behind outline (architectural line drawing), or (c) shade.
5. Use accents. Emphasis (heavier lineweight) on corners and edges.
6. Use atmospheric perspective. Higher contrast and/or more details in the forground.