Of Design release 1.0a1

As regular readers will know, I've been working (slowly) on a rewrite of my BIS Thesis in Design Epistemology.  The original thesis was huge, covering way more material than anyone should attempt to cover in one thesis, and as a result it was rather cursory in its coverage of most of the areas on which it touched.  It was also written as a "design thesis", that is, as a designed work (mostly short stories) rather than a prosaic paper.

The revised thesis is far more prosaic and far more straightforward.  It's also turning out to be far longer, and still has way too much material planned to go into it.  So I'm trying to rein in the horses and tie off the ends.  I can look at covering the whole of the hundreds of schools of design, the varied approaches, the huge collection of "stuff" that was part of the original when I'm teaching somewhere and getting paid to write about it :) .

The current rewrite covers basically the "Toolboxes" section of the original thesis, that is, the theoretical underpinnings.  It doesn't cover any of the schools of architecture, the individual architects, the individual buildings, the individual mechanisms (such as proportional systems), that is, it doesn't include the "Treasure Chests" from the original thesis.  Even with that, it's now 52 pages long, and the final section (Play) could use some fleshing out.

What's it all for?  Well, as I've mentioned before, this is something of a "what I wish I had when I entered architecture school" project.  It's an introduction to thoughts surrounding the synthesis and generation of form; the process of design.  It's also, to some extent, my attempt to make my thesis material more "academia-friendly", with the idea that at some point I may get back to studying formally.  More than that, though, it's my attempt to organize thought around design, and to convince others to use that organization to think more deeply and usefully about the process of design.

For those who would like to read it, it is uploaded now (PDF link) and awaiting your critique.


  1. Evelyn

    Evelyn on 08/26/2009 11:17 a.m. #

    What level/type of critique are you interested in?
    Are there any questions I should keep in mind while reading it?

    Have you heard of the Fluid project?

  2. Mike Fletcher

    Mike Fletcher on 08/26/2009 8:48 p.m. #

    Level/type of critique: at this point the most useful type of critique would likely be whether the ideas are communicated effectively (and if not, what's not coming through). Similarly whether the ideas are useful/trivial/to abstract, or if the presentation is too abstract/concrete, I'd really like to know that.

    Questions: what other topics would you want covered in the "theory" part of the thesis (this part of the thesis) as distinct from the practice/survey part? Are there areas of design thought that you feel should be addressed as "core" (i.e. common to all (or most) schools of design thought)? Are there parts of the current text which you feel don't need to be in the "core"?

    Thanks for considering reading :) .

    Hadn't heard of the Fluid project before this.

  3. Evelyn

    Evelyn on 10/06/2009 12:21 p.m. #

    I like the idea of a "what I wish I knew when I was learning Design" paper.

    But I have very little association with anything academic these days, so I found the reading hard going. I just didn't have the shared background you were relying on when you talked about schools of design.

    I suspect a few more concrete examples and stories might have helped a lot as an entryway to the material.

    I hope this helps.

  4. Mike Fletcher

    Mike Fletcher on 10/06/2009 10:45 p.m. #

    It does indeed help. Much obliged.

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