Discursive design thinking: the role of explicit knowledge in creative architectural design reasoning

Kinda Al-Sayed, Ruth Dalton, Christoph Hoelscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The main hypothesis investigated in this paper is based upon the suggestion that the discursive reasoning in architecture supported by an explicit knowledge of spatial configurations can enhance both design productivity and the intelligibility of design solutions. The study consists of an examination of an architect’s performance while solving intuitively a well-defined problem followed by an analysis of the spatial structure of their design solutions. One group of architects will attempt to solve the design problem logically, rationalizing their design decisions by implementing their explicit knowledge of spatial configurations. The other group will use an implicit form of such knowledge arising from their architectural education to reason about their design acts. An integrated model of protocol analysis combining linkography and macroscopic coding is used to analyze the design processes. The resulting design outcomes will be evaluated quantitatively in terms of their spatial configurations. The analysis appears to show that an explicit knowledge of the rules of spatial configurations, as possessed by the first group of architects can partially enhance their function-driven judgment producing permeable and well-structured spaces. These findings are particularly significant as they imply that an explicit rather than an implicit knowledge of the fundamental rules that make a layout possible can lead to a considerable improvement in both the design process and product. This suggests that by externalizing the
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-230
JournalArtificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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