Design is both an art and a science

15Oct13

Let’s address both issues. Firstly, the architect should have foreseen the problem. Design is both an art and a science. It is based upon experience and analytical rigor. Architects, like in many other professions, learn from experience.

In addition to using science-based analytical models, they apply heuristics and rules of thumb based on past experience – of their own and of others. Many architects do not reach their prime until around the age of 50. This is because it takes that long to accumulate the needed experience for many building situations.

Of course, experience is based on the past and, if we only used past experience, we would never try anything new. The challenge lies in trying something new but seeing the unintended consequences, such as light being focused and concentrated.

This is where architects and other kinds of designers can take a lesson from commercial aviation. International air travel is said to be safer than ever[i]. There are a number of reasons for this. One prominent reason is that pilots simulate their flights.

They fly all kinds of missions in flight simulators, thus experiencing their flight before it is real. The simulators provide both a physics-based simulation of reality and the opportunity to apply experience and judgment.

What this means for architects is that they should model the building on a computer and simulate it, to help them see and understand how it will perform. It will also give them the opportunity to see unintended consequences and prevent them before the building is built.

Read the full article here

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