design by project brief
This document describes a research project that I planned to undertake in 2003.
The project was to have enough quality to serve as a PhD project. The current
state is that the scientific interest was established. I got the go-ahead that included the scientific support from a promotor. Unfortunately the institute did not have the financial means to also provide for accessories like a desk, telephone and a businesscard. I'd have had to undertake the efforts from home. Working in such a next to total state of isolation didn't appeal to me and I decided to continue my efforts in a different direction.
architecture and information technology
Drawing boards have disappeared from the architects firm. In the early
80'ies graphics terminals came on the market and software that turns a computer
into a drawing machine emerged. 2D drawing software became commercially available
and AutoCAD, being one of the first, managed to to date dominate the market.
In the mechanical engineering domain 3d-modlellers became available. This
software used an essentially different approach. Instead of manipulating
the components of a drawing -point, line, surface- this software allows manipulating
3D objects. These objects can be rendered in many different ways. Now a
similar approach is emerging in software for architectural design. Object
Orientation generally is considered to be the engine that drives the idea
of buildings being composed of objects that can be graphically manipulated
and rendered. We are becoming aware of architects not producing drawings.
the architect makes a model
Architects develop a model for a building. That model usually or next
to exclusively is presented in the form of drawings. Hence we mistake the
architect for a producer of drawings. Rather the architect makes a model
for a building. The easiest, most understandable way of communicating the
model is by rendering it graphically. Other renditions of the same model
however do exist. The construction companies that are going the build the
thing, along with the drawings, receive a book of written specifications.
This spec book is also a rendition of the model prepared by the architect.
If a scale-model were needed for wind tunnel testing, such a scale model
too is a rendition of the model prepared by the architect.
the architect fulfills a demand
Architects are business driven artists. Their products carry
aspects of both the world of art and the world of plain production of artifacts.
Every architect has his own position on the gliding scale from sculpturer
to building engineer. To make a living they do work from requirements defined
by a principal. These requirements, the project brief, do not uniquely identify
the solution. They leave room to be filled in by the architect. The architect
adds his vision to the requirements to come to a design, a model that merges
the principals' requirements with the architects' vision.
the base process
I here present an extremely simplified model for the process of, from
requirements and vision coming to the built environment.(Also see my write-up
for the Information Architect
, from which the below scheme is taken.)
The design process is executed by the architect, the construct process
is executed by a building construction company. The vision is managed by
the architect. The requirement is managed by the principal.
The newest products on the market achieve component based modeling.
These products do not support the design process. They are geared towards
denoting the outcome of the design process. Much of the research is concentrating
on the design process. The goal is to find ways that allow the architect
to work what is often called top-down. Vague-specific would be a better characterization
and research in that direction can be found.
Some research focuses on collaborative design where geographically dispersed
parties can together work on a single design.
A complete description of research in the field of IT and building design
and construction can be found at the roadcon
. This is a Europe wide initiative to organize efforts made by European
researchers. In follow-up documents, after inviting participants to formulate
specific research subjects, it is concluded that few proposals were made
to address the early stages in the design process, the stages where the
requirement -the project brief- plays an important role.
design by project brief
This research aims at developing instruments that
These improvements can be achieved by applying simple process control
models to the design process.
In building construction terminology, the model that the
architect created, the output, is reconciled against the project brief,
the input into the design process. Discrepancies then get resolved by adjusting
the designed model and/or adjusting the information in the project brief.
This control mechanism is a feedback type of control. The research will
also attempt to resolve a feed-forward control mechanism. A mechanism that,
taking the project brief, will give the design process a head start as by
providing appropriate renditions of the project brief.
Where in the project it will be necessary to validate findings and solutions,
this will be done against real-life cases in the design of hospitals. Hospital
buildings are complex in the sense that they house many different functions.
They are complex enough to require design process participants to have tools
and methods for validating the designed model. Another consideration is
that for the design of hospitals normative rules are available from identifiable
The project will aim at also producing software that illustrates the
workability of the ideas. The plan is to resolve this software such that
it can cooperate with existing and commercially available packages for architectural
- improve the quality of the outcome of the design process
- improve the speed of the design process
If you have comments on this proposed research, for instance with respect
If you have suggestions, if you know of people working on more or less
the same type of problem, if you in one way or the other would like to contribute,
then send me an email.
- does this kind of problem exist
- do appropriate -IT based- solutions already exist
- can the problem be solved
- can software tools be deployed
Theo van Eijndhoven, 2003