Visualising Complex Data for Design


With the deployment of data-driven design comes the question of how to visualise complex data so as to enable comprehension on the part of the designer and ensure a tangible design process and workflow. This is obviously dependent on the complexity of information contained in each data set, the quan- tity and interdependence of data sets, and, in general, the complexity of the design problem. With the increase in this last aspect, it is reasonable to assume that the complexity of the former two will also increase. This, then, implies that the design problem needs to receive some attention.

One promising way of mapping complex systems and relations is based on Sevaldson’s research into visual thinking and visual practice methods, in particular, a method he termed GIGA-mapping. Sevaldson described GIGA-maps as ‘rich multi- layered design artefacts that integrate systems thinking with designing as a way of developing and internalising an understanding of a complex field’. As a tool for visualising complex relations in an extensive manner, GIGA-maps can serve the purpose of redrawing system boundaries in a more detailed and expansive manner, or, likewise, provide the visualisation of multiple system boundaries in relation to different sets of criteria and/or different stakeholder configurations. In so doing, they enable the rethinking and redefining of design problems by unfolding an extensive set of interdependencies and relations that hitherto were not considered to this extent.

From: Intersecting Knowledge Fields and Integrating Data-Driven Computational Design en Route to Performance-Oriented and Intensely Local ArchitecturesMichael U. Hensel and Søren S. Sørensen


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