Architectural Design I


 Architectural design-I, Dr. D Y Patil School of architecture, Charoli Pune.

    4.0 THE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
 
   Architecture as mentioned earlier is an art and a science. Since it is a fusion of the two, it is neither of them. Architecture and planning, no matter what they include and where they are applied, are prescriptive in nature, and unlike art, have to relate traditions to technology. Architectural design is a synthesis of many faculties of contradictory nature, and hence does not rest on any solid foundation for its ultimate product- the design. Applied science and technology generally satisfy the primary needs of the society and such works are motivated purely by practical considerations. The methods employed in these works are analytical and logical, based upon the scientific and mathematical rules, where a logical premise leads to a logical conclusion. In contrast the products of art are essentially intended to satisfy secondary needs. The artistic problems are flexible and subjective in nature and are solved in an emotional way. The solutions are aesthetic in nature, and can be experienced but they can neither always be analysed nor its conclusions demonstrated by commonly accepted mathematical formulae. The product of craftsman is intended to satisfy both the primary and secondary needs and is repetitive in nature. The solutions being partly utilitarian and partly aesthetic can be partly analysed. The ultimate conclusion of architecture is the architectural design.

4.1. The Process
    Designing is a process where by an object, which is later to be physically constructed, is first conceived as an idea or concept. The concept is the initial perception of design or interpretation of various elements into a whole, involving intention or purpose rather than the operational functions. The idea may be conceived on three levels, viz. philosophical, mental and physical or representational. The process involves identification of the functional purpose of the object, analysis of its aesthetic and utilitarian aspects, and visualising alternative solutions. Synthesis of data into a design is not mechanical but an intellectual process.
    The process of design, even in the modern architectural schools, is based on a trial and error method or proposing, testing & improving. There is no definite method or methodology prescribed in any of the textbooks. Some times the techniques in architecture are referred to as methods (by which structures are formed from particular materials). Since the end-product is distinctly visible, its success or failure often shadows the method followed. Most of the theoreticians1 call the design process a five-step process, as follows:
1) Problem formation (identification, inception, definition, recognition)
2) Data analysis, programming, abstraction
3) Design synthesis (development of form, volumetric design, layout, schematic design, detailed design, and generation of alternatives)
4) Test solutions, evaluation and selection (modification and selection of alternatives).
5) Implementation and post occupancy evaluation

4.2. The Constituents of Architectural Design
    The buildings (architectural product) do not exist in isolation. They exist in spatial, social, behavioural and technological context. The information or data that is analysed and synthesised in an architectural design is categorised differently by each architect. The handbooks on planning standards (building type) generally include this information. Most comprehensives of these could be summarised from the work of Snyder2, as follows:
1) Anatomical (Perceptual context)
2) Geological (Customisation of space to land, Spatial context)
3) Socio-cultural (Behavioural context, Personality or Image)
4) Technological (Materials, methods and, economic context)
    Anatomical data includes the functional (primary / secondary) components. Normally it represents the requirements of the user (in term of function and purpose) in the building, qualitatively and quantitatively. In simple words it accounts for the number and type of spaces and rooms with their sizes, shapes and environmental conditions (illumination, temperature, ventilation, acoustics and view), decorations, furnishing, etc. It also includes the relations of rooms with each other, inside and outside the building, flow of men, material and energy desired and resultant on account of the above configuration. As the life style changes, these requirements may also change.
    The space or geological context accounts for all the information about natural and artificial elements in the process, on account of the location of a building at a particular spot. This includes plot size, shape, slope, topography, geography, vegetation, climate, solar radiation, wind and rain conditions (direction, intensity and duration) etc. at micro and macro level. It also includes roads, urban or rural infrastructure, source of water supply and disposal, electricity and telephone services and local development rules. This field of information is normally responsible for overall shape of development (not necessary shape of the building) and the treatment or selection of skin and roof of the building.
    Socio-cultural data is a set of information, which is supposed to decide the personality or image of the building. Every society and culture has a set of conventions and meaning attached to them. In words of Leon Krier, “A convention in architecture can only be born, and have a lasting value when appearance and use establish an evident relationship of truth. A convention in architecture can not by definition be forced.”3 Wine bottle and coffee-pot being containers, are differentiated and perceived through form, which is determined by tradition4. Every society has a specific image for each type of building. These images are functional and symbolic and help to identify not only purpose of the building but also the society. Language, behavioural responses, traditions and traditional spaces, festivity and celebrations, music, literature, drama, etc, influence them.
    However, the architects of modern world do not necessarily believe in this. The forms adopted for modern buildings, particularly in 20th century, are being derived from other images like “the appearances of aeroplanes, of ships and train, of petrochemical plant or container and even of the building of the past”.5 Alternatively many architects accept graphical compositions as form givers. Based on the logic of visual pleasure, this system believes in freedom of form, and combination of forms composed purely in accordance with (visual) balance, harmony and rhythm. Though it is contrary to the traditional definition of art and architecture, it’s more popular with the modern architects.
    The fourth group of information deals with the techniques i.e. the building materials and methods of construction. This set of information checks for feasibility of ideas developed by the other groups, and makes it a reality. Since this deals with materials and their logical properties, it can be analysed, calculated and physically demonstrated. This set of information popularly known as (construction) technology is expected to help the execution of design as per the form and details evolved through other factors. Unfortunately, as it is directly connected with the cost, on occasions, it dictates the form of the building. Structure plays a decisive role, particularly on the form and configuration of large and tall buildings.

1 . Brogden Felicity, Site Planning and Design, Introduction to architecture, 1979, pp. 160-61
2 . J. Snyder, Introduction to Architecture, (1979)
3 . Leon Krier, Names and Nicknames in Architecture, Architectural design, June, 84
4 . The temples in India has a typical character to be differentiated from other buildings, and the minor variations indicate whether the temple belongs to the northern , southern or eastern part of India.
5 . Leon Krier, Names and Nicknames in Architecture, Architectural design, June, 84

 Dr. V. R. AMBATKAR, August 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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