ARCH: psychoanalysis of the design process – three paths to a library

CONTENT / The science on various design methods and processes is a fascinating branch of knowledge which architects perhaps do not study enough. The knowledge of design methods could organise and systematise your work, offer an X-ray vision, real psychanalysis of yourself as well as other designers and your tutors. This science may also help you to overcome design blocks when you are mentally stuck. 


We could provide you a long, detailed and technical lecture about various methods of design, but why not experiment on yourself and feel how it is to become three different creative personalities? 


AIMS / During this workshop we will talk and learn about libraries in the 21st century – this is a fascinating topic with its own unique problems and potentials. However, the workshop is not only about libraries. It is about making you aware about the design process; about who you are… and who you could be as a conscious architect. The seminal book Revealing Architectural Design Methods, Frameworks and Tools by Philip Plowright has a surprising conclusion that there are only three main types of architectural design process which represent three schools of teaching and creation. Architects, architectural tutors and students are often not aware of that so their arguments are actually pseudo-arguments… deriving from confusion on a meta-level. Some ‘big debates’ in the architectural world or academia stem from basic misunderstanding of those three different design processes. 


The workshop is also about ‘fast methods’ for designing options. In the first week, you will be asked to design one option a day following specific instructions. 


The objective of the project is only partly related to designing a library. The main aim of the workshop is for you to reflect on different design methods, your own strength and weakness and on the tools that are available.


During the workshop you will learn about:  

Problem solving, problem redefinition, exploratory and evaluative thinking, architectural syntax, usefulness of bias, IBD (Intelligence-based design), pattern language, forces, intellectual tools and brainstorming, CPSP (Creative Problem Solving Process), TRIZ (theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks), domain-to-domain transfer.


METHOD / During the first week of this workshop you will be asked to approach the same architectural task – designing a library – three times. Every time, you will design it according to different architectural framework. This will allow you to learn something about yourself as an architect and about your own strengths and weaknesses. In the second week, you will be asked to analyse your work, evaluate the three projects and to refine the best result during group work.  

…And one more thing… At the end, you will be asked to reflect on the work done and reflect on who you are and who you could be.  


The workshop will be an exercise on fast design. For three days you will follow a different design framework, thus learning about different design methods and tools. As a result, you will create three, probably very different, projects. For now, let’s call the three projects Alpha, Beta and Gamma. (You will learn the real names of these frameworks during the workshop). In order not to confuse you, we will not explain the different methodologies here, but they will be explained on three separate days in special materials you will be sent. 



Week 1 – Individual design 

Monday:  Briefing, Preparation: Identify three sites in your city where a medium size building could be designed.

Tuesday:  Alpha briefing, Visit the Alpha site, Create Alpha design,
Present Alpha design to fellow students in your groups.

Wednesday:  Beta briefing, Visit the Beta site, Create Beta design,
Present Beta design to fellow students in your groups.

Thursday: Gamma briefing, Visit the Gamma site, Create Gamma design,
Present Gamma design to fellow students in your groups

Friday: Presentation of individual projects chosen within groups 

Week 2 – group work  

Monday-Wednesday – group work

Thursday – final group presentation 

Friday – individual reflection and online submission 


EVALUATION / your work will be assessed according to the following criteria 

  1. Analyses/ How thoroughly and deeply did you analyse the issues and questions related to libraries in the 21st century as well as all the people involved in library life? How well did you formulate architectural questions according to those analyses? Mind that during the process of developing the project you will create several small projects. Each of these projects could have a different agenda, different analyses, different questions and different criteria. So it is important that you formulate this clearly by adding clear annotations to each initial sketch. 
  2. Concept/ How strong and coherent was the response (answer) to a problem (question) which you formulated during the analyses? Mind that in different projects the criteria ‘strong’ and ‘coherent’ could mean something different, e.g. functional, critical, original OR something different). Be clear about YOUR criteria. Clearly annotate the drawings 
  3. Development/  How systematic and rational was the choice of a design path? How many options did you take into consideration? How rigorously (according to your own criteria) did you choose the next step? (Mind that the development will be partly individual and partly group work. Engagement in each part of the work will be evident through peer assessment and the outcome you will have to submit.) 
  4. Presentation/ Did you submit all the required deliverables? How clearly did you manage to convey the final idea and how engaging was it? (The deliverables will be a combination of individual and group work. They should be clearly annotated. A very important part of the individual work will be the final reflection.) 

University of Lincoln (UK) :  Marcin Mateusz Kołakowski (