On Design 'Problematization': Theorising Differences in Designed Outcomes

Elsevier Science Ltd.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Design Studies, 2007, 28 (02), pp. 159 - 173
Issue Date:
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This paper offers a speculative account of the way in which architectural design problems are 'solved', and of the significant ways in which such problems are constructed by the designers themselves. Deliberately retaining pro tem the traditional 'problem solution' language frame, the paper questions this viewpoint by positing a distinction between two categories of problem: the 'problem as given' and the 'problem as design goal'. While the first represents a conventional understanding of the problem presented for solution, the paper speculates that this is not the problem that the designer seeks to solve. A second category is therefore introduced to delineate the problem that is actually solved. This problem, termed the 'problem as design goal', is created by the imposition on to the 'problem as given' of a range of designer preferences, expectations and prejudices which not only define the 'actual' problem but, at the same time, establish the means and requirements for its acceptable solution. Such 'problematization', different for each designer and for each project, is posited as being central to architectural design, informing and constraining both the design activity and the final outcome in ways that are not determined by the brief itself.
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