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METHODOLOGY

IN

THE

SERVICE

OF DELIGHT

 

5.1

Geoffrey Broadbent

 

Head of

School

of Architecture

 

Portsmouth Polytechnic

King Henry

1 Street

 

Portsmouth POI

2DY

Abstract

This

paper discusses

the

flight

from rationality,

the

social and political

reasons

which prompted some

the field.

terms of the Hillier, Musgrove,

even where user-participation extends to eliminating the specialist designer alto-

gether, the creative mechanisms by which 3-dimensional form is generated will remain

of

the more notable

exponents

of

design method

to withdraw

from

It then discusses the characteristics which all buildings will have in

O'Sullivan "four function model",

suggesting that

what

provide

building designers: the Taller de Arquitectura of Barcelona, whose working methods enable many people, including non-architects, to participate in the design process.

they have been

a basis

for

throughout history:

analysing

pragmatic,

iconic,

analogic,

canonic.

These

the procedures

adopted by a highly

creative group of

Introduction

Asked some time ago to write a "state of the art" piece on design methods for Per-

specta 15, I was tempted to reply: "There is nothing to say; design method is dead".

(1)

It certainly seemed so at the time,

the field,

especially

as

potent reasons

some of

its

major exponents

had withdrawn from

stating fairly

for doing so.

These were rooted in that drift from rationality which seems to have permeated Western cultural life in the last five years or so. With the vogue for "participa- tion" the belief that any attempt by the "expert" - the artist designer - to foist his views on the long-suffering public should be strenuously resisted, and the means by which he does it suppressed. Design methods, in this view, formed part of that foisting mechanism.

The Nature

But whoever actually does the design, however democratic the procedures by which a design is achieved, the finished building actually will display certain character- istics which were outlined by Hillier, Musgrove and O'Sullivan at EDRA 3.(2) These may be summarised as follows:-

to

or not,

Any building whether we

of Buildings

like

it or not,

and whether

the designer(s)

intend(s)

it

will:-

1. for certain human purposes.

Enclose

spaces

The actual

division

of

spaces may

facilitate

or

inhibit

specific human activities,

it may also provide security.

2. Modify the external climate thus providing conditions in which human beings may

be more or

as

less

comfortable. in

signs

of

or

visual,

thermal and actual

it

terms.

the

3. Act

4. Modify the values

a

system of

symbols

into which people may read meanings

is built,

properties.

the materials

the adjacent

from which

land

on which

stands and

possibly of

314

it

5. DESIGN LANGUAGES AND METHODS

/

315

At

which

the criticism of buildings

And

one

even

level,

the

these are mere truisms,

yet

they

do

provide a useful

thus

check

forming

list against

for

designers'

if

this

ordering of priorities

can be assessed,

a basis

in design and of completed buildings.

like most

"four-function model"

so-called theories

of architecture,

is merely a polemic,

it describes very effectively,

the characteristics which some of

us

Modes

It may be, however, that the nearest we shall ever get to a "theory" of architecture will be a theory of design-behaviour which predicts - with probabilities - the ways in which architects, or anyone else who tries to generate 3-dimensional built form

will act whilst

been used, in this context, by designers

were any professional architects. I have described these elsewhere(3)(4) (5) and can only summarise them here:

Pragmatic design - in which materials are used, by trial-and-error, until a form emerges which seems to serve the designers' purpose. Most forms of building seem to have started in this "JaY. Mongait (6) illustrates an early example; a mammoth hunter's tent excavated at Pushkari near Novgorod-Seversk made from the available building materials: some rather spindly trees, some small stones and after that the bones, tusks and skins of the mammoths; all that was left after the meat had been eaten. The site, as excavated, suggested that the mammoth hunters had built three interlocking tepee-like frames from the available timbers and perhaps from the mammoth tusks. They had then laid mammoth skins over this framework, weighting down the edges with stones and the bones. So the most improbable of materials were used to form a very effective shelter; the available resources were allowed to determine the form. We still tend to use this mode of designing whenever we have to use new materials, as in the case, say, of plastic air houses and suspension structures. It is only very recently, after two decades of pragmatic design, that theoretical bases for the design of such structures are beginning to emerge.

think architecture

of Designing

ought

to have.

they are actually

trying

to design. Certain mechanisms ~ to have

throughout history; stallting

long before there

Iconic design - in which the members of a particular culture share a fixed mental

image

of what

the

design

should be "like".

Often encouraged in

"primitive"

cultu~es

by legend, tradition, work-songs which describe the design process (7) by the mutual

adaption which has taken place between ways of life and building form - as with the Eskimo's igloo - and by the conventions of craftsmanship which take a long time to

learn but,

Bunshaft's Lever House in New York (1952) which became the fixed mental image for a generation of architects and clients as to what office buildings should be like. User-participation is perhaps the most potent mechanism of all for the repetition of design icons.

- one's design problems. This seems to have started with Imhotep (c.2,800 Be) in designing the Step Pyramid complex at Sakkara; given the problem of building, for the first time, in large blocks of stone, he drew visual analogies with existing brick tomb-forms, timber-framed and reed-mat houses, for the overall building forms, with lotus buds or flowers and snakes heads for the decoration, and so on. Analogy still seems to be the mechanism of "creative" archit ecture, as with Wright's use of water lily forms in the Johnson Wax factory office (1936), his own hands at prayer in the

Analogical

once learned, are difficult to abandon. We still set up icons - such as

design

the drawing of analogies -

usually visual -

into

the

solution of

316

ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN RESEARCH, VOL. 2

Madison,

Ronchamp.

on painting and

but analogies

Wisconsin Chapel

These are

direct

sculpture as

can also

(1950)

not

analogies

sources

be drawn with

to mention Le Corbusier's crab-shell

roof of

(8).

Much

20th century architecture has

drawn

of analogies,

one's

own body

(Constructivism,

Purism,

de Stijl);

(personal

analogy)

and with

abstract,

philosophical concepts

(as

in

the present preoccupation with indeterminacy).

Analogical

design

requires

the use of

some medium such as

a

drawing,

for

translating

the original

into

its new form.

The

first

Egyptian design drawings

date

from the

same

period as

Imhotep's

pyramid

complex and

the

drawing

itself

begins

to

suggest

possib-

ilities to the designer.

He

sets

up

grids

and/or axes

to make

sure

that his

drawing

will

rhythms

fit

-

on which had not

to

the available

these

appeared previously

surface;

"suggest"

in architecture.

regularities -

Any

symmetries

and

design

analogue

-

a drawing,

influence the way they design.

Canonic

their own;

master by abstracting

had been formed - -

Classical philosophers (Plato,

tetrahedra,

made up of

Whilst much 20th

of all modular systems, dimensional co-ordination, prefabricated systems building

program,

model,

or

even a

computer

will

"take over"

from the

designers

life

and

of

design

-

the grids and axes of these

early design drawings took on a

it became clear that the second-rate artists could emulate the work of a

from

it

the underlying

systems

of

proportion.

Once

this

view

that art and design could be underpinned by abstract proportional

it received a massive boost from the Greek geometers (Pythagoras) and

etc.) who believed that

the universe

icosahedra

and

dodecahedra

and

that

itself was con-

these

in

turn were

The Platonic

triangles underlay medieval Gothic design

(9).

similar precepts;

it

is

the basis

systems

structed of cubes,

triangles.

century design has been based on

and

so

on.

New mathematical

techniques and computer aids are

likely to boost even

further

this

intereet

in

the abstract

Geometry

of

Environment

(see book of

that

title00\

Applications

I

have

shown elsewhere

(11)

that

these

four modes

of

designing;

pragmatic,

iconic,

ana logic and

canonic,

seem to

underlie all

the ways

in which architectural

form has

been,

Alexander's point that

I

or can be generated.

These may be used

singly or

the most

should

convincing demonstration

like

to

demonstrate how -

its actual practice,

in

combination and,

taking

of

a

design methodology

is

without being at all

familiar

with

Arquitectura

Only one of the Taller

the terms,

a

highly

imaginative

form of building

- developed a methodology which combines

a

with a Spanish sociologist,

an

Licence

to

economist

practice.

and

so on.

designers

the Taller de

of Barcelona

is

have actually

-

fully

qualified,

musicians,

others include poets,

writers,

them(12).

The

They seek to avoid the bleak sterility of most current mass housing and this has

involved them in a continuing reassessment, at many levels, of what it means to live in cities, what it is that makes them attractive, how housing can be planned in such

a way

community.

Espacio for Madrid, a project which has yet to be realised, although in working towards it, the Taller have produced some impressive enough results. These include the Barrio Gaudi, a low cost, high density neighbourhood (1965 to date) at ~audi's birthplace, Reus, near Tarragona; Kafka's Castle an apartment hotel behind Sitges (1966); and La Manzanera, a holiday village at Calpe near Benidorm (1965 to date). Other projects include Le Cheval de Monaco, their entry for a competition won by Archigram in 1969; La Petite Cathe~rale for the new town of Cergy-Pontoise near Paris and Walden 7 for the Taller's own site in Barcelona. The last two are in final stages of planning and will be started on site during 1973.

that

at

any moment

people can choose between privacy

and

participation

for

a

in the

All this has been building up to

the massive project

Ciudad en el

318

/

ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN RESEARCH, VOL. 2

these in various ways and eliminate those which can't be clustered; check the

clusters against certain environmental parameters and eliminate those which fail to meet them. Determine an overall form with reference to local conditions, using visual and other analogies. At La Manzanera, a "pop fantasy vd.llage" near Calpe, one group of housing derives by analogy from the local vernacular and another, Xanadu, from the Penon de Ifach, a Gibraltar-like rock standing out in the bay.

La Petite Cathedra Ie (for

whole suburb with shops, schools, parking and housing draped over the form of a

Gothic Cathedral.

Conclusions

Before the Taller demonstrated otherwise, most of us had supposed that three factors in particular inhibited the exercise of creativity in architectural design, namely cost, planning, construction or other statutory constraints and - as Alexander would have it - the exercise of systematised procedures in the management of design. Yet the Taller use a highly developed methodology which seems to be the key to their

Cergy-Pontoise)

looks

exactly what the name

implies -

a

success

Some of their procedures are mathematically-based and these lead to the generation of solutions in such variety that it hardly matters when some of them have to be elimin-

in bringing non-architects

into

the building

design

process.

ated. That, of course, results from the checking against various constraints, structural, environmental and so on, which form an essential part of the Taller's systematic method. The crucial point is that instead of starting with the cons_ traints and then complaining that· .they are hamstrung, the Taller start with possibil- ities and then eliminate those which prove not to be possible. And finally - but perhaps most convincing of all - the Taller's buildings are quite remarkably cheap. So, far from inhibiting creativity, their procedures and methods actually encourage

it. Design method therefore

Barcelona and providing some of the most beautiful, rabitable and economical

architecture to be had anywhere.

is

far

from dead.

It is alive, well, living in

References

(1)

(2)

Hitchell, W .J EDRA 3, tos Angeles, 1972. (3) Broadbent, G. "The Design Process", in Starling, J., urn REPORTING BACK CONFERENCE, Attingham Park, 1967.

Broadbent,

Hillier,

G,

"The Present

Musgrove,

S.tate of Design Method Studies"

J,

& O'Sullivan,

in

PERSPECTA 15

in

W R G,

P., "Kriowled~ and Design"

<.(+) Broadbent,

G,

ARCHITECTURE,

"The Deep

Structures

of Architecture,

paper

HISTORY AND THEORY OF SIGNS,

Barcelona,

1972

for

SYMFOSIUM ON

(conference

proceed-

ings

to be published by

o,ollegio de Arquitectura,

Barcelona).

(5)

Broadbent,

G.

DESIGN IN ARCHITECTURE,

John Wiley & Sons,

London & New York,

1973

(6)

Mongait,

A,

L,

ARCHAEOLOGY IN

THE USSR

(trans

H W Thompson

1966),

Harmondsworth,

Penguin,

1955.

 

(7)

Alexander,

G,

NOTES

ON THE

SY~THESIS OF FORM,

Harvard. University

Press,

Cambridge,

Hass,

1964.

(8)

Gordon, W.J.J.,

SYNECTICES:

THE DEVELOPMENT OF CREATIVE

CAPACITY,

Harper &

Brothers,

New York,

1961.

(9)

(lO)Harch,

Frankl,

1970

P.

L.

"Secrets of the Hediaeval Hasons",

ART BULLETIN XXVII Harch

1946

& Steadman,

P.

THE

GEOMETRY OF ENVIRONMENT,

RIBA

Publications,

London

(ll)Broadbent,

G. DESIGN IN ARCHITECTURE, oohn Wiley, London, New York,

1973

(12 )Broadbent,

G. "The Road

to Xanadu" article

for ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW (forthcoming).