The field of architecture has undergone a significant shift in recent years from a more process-driven approach to architectural design. The purpose of architecture is more than just to create a final product with a shallow understanding of this vast ocean of field in practice. 

One of the key drivers of this shift has been the increasing use of technology at the beginning of the design process. It is not to say that technology has shallowed depth in process-driven architecture. But it is the shift of technology taking over the ideation and conceptualisation from a more humane and godly approach which initiates from the thinking methodology of the very architect and his/her way of living.

Another significant shift has been the fast-food way of living. It has become about who can deliver amazing designs quickly, give the best designs for less money, and complete the project in the stipulated time and requirements overlooking the design. It has never taken a step back to realise and accept good and great designs that the world cherishes that never happened overnight.

Peter Zumthor’s idea behind Strategic Thinking 

 “I work a bit like a sculptor. When I started, my first idea for a building was with the material. I believe architecture is about that. It’s not about paper; it’s not about forms. It’s about space and material.” 

“What I try to do is the art of building, and the art of building is the art of construction; it is not only about forms and shapes and images.”

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Image 1_Peter Zumthor’s design process for Therme Vals_©semanticscholar.org

A process-driven approach to architectural design also emphasises the importance of user-centred design. By understanding the needs and preferences of the people who will use a particular space and how they wish to use it, architects can create designs that are more functional, accessible, and responsive to their needs. This approach involves involving users and other stakeholders in the design process through co-creation, participatory design, and user testing. 

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Design Process_©wordpress.com

This has been fundamental for any architectural process adapted over different timelines of architectural evolution. Commissioning a project brief from the architect has been a more crucial step in the process-driven approach. This allows both the architect and the client to discuss their needs and visions about the project freely and transcribe it in the later stage in a more advanced medium to discuss it further.

The process behind developing any idea for an architect can happen intuitively or logically, where he/she would have subconsciously got into some process and developed the same.

The intuitive approach took up the collective analysis of the problems stated and identified, formulating the design goals and generating a collective decision making that answers, supports, and generates the solution with the depth of understanding of the subject at various levels.

The Logical approach takes up the collective analysis of their understanding of the problem recognised with the medium to evaluate their strategies involved in the ideation and peer group discussions, such as brainstorming and critically analysing the subject before identifying the all-level practical design solution.

Modern-day architecture takes up a more creative analytical process that involves synthesising a vision from the knowledge collected over a period of time in learning. Imagining the hypothetical combination of co-existence in design and proximity leads to speculation of their visualisation, followed by elaborating and translating their visions.

Frank Gehry’s Vision for Design Process & Strategic Thinking 

One of the most famous Gehry Quotes: “I know I draw without taking my pen off the page. I just keep going, and that my drawings I think of them as scribbles. I don’t think they mean anything to anybody except to me, then at the end of the project these little drawings wheel out, and they’re damn close to what the finished building is” (artquotes.net).

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Frank Gehry’s design process for the Disney Concert Hall_©wordpress.com

The project’s resiliency is also considered, making modern-day architecture more sensitive and humane. With climate change and other environmental challenges becoming more pressing, architects are recognising the importance of designing buildings and spaces that are energy-efficient, adaptable, and able to withstand natural disasters. This has led to a renewed emphasis on using data, simulation, and other analytical tools to understand buildings’ performance and optimise design solutions.

In conclusion, the re-birth of process-driven architectural design is a positive development driven by several factors, including the increasing awareness of the impact of buildings on the environment, the increasing complexity of building projects, and the need to understand the needs and goals of the client. The process-driven approach to architectural design allows architects to create buildings that are not only visually striking but also functional, sustainable, and respectful of their surroundings. 

By embracing a process-driven approach, architects can create more adaptable, resilient, and sustainable designs.

Toyo Ito’s Vision for Design Process & Strategic Thinking 

 “Architects have made architecture too complex. We must simplify it and use a language everyone can understand.” “We have to base architecture on the environment; the natural world systems are fluid. In contrast to this, architecture has always tried to establish a more stable system of the grid; it has made the world’s cities homogenous. In response to that, by modifying the grid slightly, I have been attempting to create relationships that bring buildings closer to their surroundings.”

Fundamentally it is also very clear that the design process is very innate with both the conscious and unconscious thinking of the architects, and it varies for every fellow being.

Toyo Ito’s design process for the Serpentine pavilion_©wordpress.com

Articles:

Reinventing the design process, ensuring success (no date) Laing O’Rourke. Available at: https://www.laingorourke.com/thinking/reinventing-the-design-process-ensuring-success/ (Accessed: January 14, 2023). 

The Architecture Design Process & Phases – archisoup: Architecture Guides & Resources (2022) archisoup. Available at: https://www.archisoup.com/architecture-design-process (Accessed: January 14, 2023). 

Design Process & Strategic Thinking in Architecture – Researchgate (no date). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328130631_Design_Process_Strategic_Thinking_in_Architecture (Accessed: January 14, 2023). 

Mahmoodi, A.S. (2001) The design process in architecture: A pedagogic approach using interactive thinking, White Rose eTheses Online. University of Leeds. Available at: https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/2155/ (Accessed: January 14, 2023). 

Images:

Peter Zumthor’s design process for Therme Vals (no date) semanticscholar. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Concretion%2C-abstraction%3A-the-place-of-materials-in-Vandenbulcke/966ec298585b7cd2e95157bb846efd00d30a57e9/figure/0 (Accessed: January 15, 2023). 

Design Process (no date) WordPress. Available at: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsonyaterborg.files.wordpress.com%2F2016%2F02%2Ffullsizerender-1.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsonyaterborg.com%2F2016%2F02%2F18%2Fstart-with-empathy%2F&tbnid=CJVcxlel7QDv9M&vet=12ahUKEwin1tjyhMj8AhWiSWwGHVS4CEAQxiAoAXoECAAQFw..i&docid=gfIEWwJCBZCDeM&w=3913&h=2855&itg=1&q=design%20thinking%20process&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwin1tjyhMj8AhWiSWwGHVS4CEAQxiAoAXoECAAQFw (Accessed: January 15, 2023). 

Frank Gehry’s design process for the Disney Concert Hall (no date) wordpress. Available at: https://eliinbar.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/scan_doc00021.jpg (Accessed: January 15, 2023). 

Toyo Ito’s design process for the serpentine pavilion (no date) wordpress. Available at: https://eliinbar.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/00122.jpg (Accessed: January 15, 2023). 

Author

Krishna Priya Parthasarathy is a persistent human and an architect, who is keen on unlearning her self-intuited perspectives of architecture, philosophy, and life. She believes that words said, holds much more patience and power in creating a thinking that can transform into a dialogue and a dialogue into a change, which she wishes to bring within the readers and the dwellers. She truly believes that rethinking is the best thing one can kindle to engage in thought-provoking ideas.

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