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Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal





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Architectural design is an intellectual process which mediates between the hand and the eye to produce visual images for communication of spatial properties. Space and its composition are usually depicted by drafting a geometrically constructed image of material limits. These types of drawings usually do not communicate anything about spatial behavior, performance or experience. They communicate the physical boundaries but not the behavioral content of space, which is air--its movement patterns, temperatures and odors. Spatial continuity is furthermore dissected through orthographic projection, which dismembers a whole into parts. But corners are as essential to spatial experience as is the behavioral qualities of air. With very few exceptions architectural design practices most often still operate within a tradition of pure form and pure space, which are shaped as a balance of aesthetics and function.

New computational tools like computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which were developed to simulate spatial behavior of non-visual phenomena, could integrate the knowledge of other sensual experiences and perceptions beyond the visual into the design practice. But various questions arise related to architectural design practices. How close are those abstractions to ‘real’ spatial experiences? And how feasible is the integration of such tools into the design process to date? What alternatives do architects have to integrate the non-visual into architectural representation?
This paper will thus address possibilities to restructure the relationship between design practices and environmental forces like heat transfer and air movement, with the goal of developing a better understanding of how to integrate natural air and energy flows into architectural design representation and thus into the design itself. New methods of representation are necessary for a renewed understanding of space that addresses all senses. The design principles which are highlighted are representation, visualization and simulation of space and its boundaries or boundary condition. Using examples from design research and design pedagogy, the paper also contributes to the ongoing debate about sensual culture and challenges a purely visual reception and perception of the world we live in and design for. Reality is also tactile, thermal and olfactory.


This article is from Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal 3 (2009): 31–46. Posted with permission.

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Common Ground, Ulrike Passe



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