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Design Science: The Ideal Architecture Process

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Astroboi | Dreamstime

Architecture has always been part design and part science, but – once again – we are in an era where the two have great potential to help one another. A design science marriage will be key as both scientists and designers strive to push their respective fields forward. Each can provide insight to the other as designers can help scientists think “outside of the box” while scientists bring newfound technologies and theories to the design disciplines – including the architecture process.

Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of design and architecture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, is starting a wonderful column on the “interface of science and design”. (1) I have heard Paola Antonelli speak and she is quite insightful and forward-thinking. In her new column, Antonelli writes the following:

“Design today has to deal with a timely set of priorities and responsibilities: a concern for the environment, an evolved sense of responsibility toward other human beings, new technical advancements in manufacturing and distribution, new ideas about what constitutes privacy and ownership of things and spaces, the immateriality of new forms of design, the interactivity that many objects allow, and the resurgence of local cultures in response to the global market, to name a few.”(1)

Needles to say, her article entitled Core Principles touches upon how and why a design science approach is so important. We live in an age where scientific and technological findings are influencing everyday life in more profound ways. From sensory devices to nanotechnologies, the sciences are providing not only new methods for design and construction – but they are also providing for new materials as well. Conversely, as science searches for answers to solve some of society’s biggest questions, it is the field of design which can provide for the some of the most innovative ways of thinking through design process.

As Antonelli states, “Science can teach design how to find its core. The points of contact between science and design are countless.”(1) Developing a stronger design science approach is important. Opening the lines of communication between the two disciplines is critical. Each can inform the other in exciting new ways – where science can find creative solutions and design can develop more innovative creations. The renewed advent of design science is here — and the architectural process is a key contributor.


(1) Antonelli, Paola. Core Principles. SEED. February 9, 2009.





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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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