This dissertation is concerned with the creative role that digital media can play within the discipline of architectural design. As a subject for exploration, the primary question that shall be asked is, how can digital media assist the architect in creative thought?
Much has been said regarding the role of digital media in architectural design and CAD (Computer-Aided Design), as an example, seems to be a main facilitator of negative criticism. Many believe that CAD, as its name implies, does not ‘aid’ architectural design at all and instead imposes limitations and boundaries in the pursuit of ‘creativity.’1
However, others argue that the integration of digital media in the design process should be executed strategically by responsible designers who should know ‘where and when’ to use digital tools.2
This dissertation therefore proposes that an appreciation of the creative role digital media can assume within architectural design can be achieved through design epistemology.
In other words- by exploring the primary cognitive mechanisms involved in creative thinking one can begin to understand how digital design tools might be able to amplify those mechanisms. For example, the design of a computer that can play chess and defeat the human Grand Master (Deep Blue II, 1997) did not have the ultimate aim of making it superfluous for humans to ever play chess again. Rather, it allowed a greater understanding of challenges inherent in the game itself and the human cognitive processes that are employed in the process of problem solving. As Nigel Cross points out:
Asking ‘Can a machine design?’ is similar to asking ‘Can a machine think?’3
Therefore, through understanding more about ourselves as designers, we can appreciate the potential ways that digital design tools can support the design process and subsequently, assume a significant role in the discipline of architectural design.
1 Deanna Petherbridge, “SUBVERTING the silicon: a critique of drawing in the computer age,” UME, v.14, (2002): 2-5.
2 Mitchell, W. J., Inouye, A. S. and Blumenthal, M. S. Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity (Washington, USA: National Academic Press, 2004): 1.
3 Nigel Cross (2001). “Can a machine design?” Design Issues, Vol.17, No.4, p44.