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Alternative Means of Architectural Design

Alternative means of architectural design that are based on collaborative and community driven approaches serve for housing and community development. They are well documented as being more economically and socially sustainable in both first and third world contexts since at-least the 1960s. Such non-hierarchical approaches do not allow for the architect to control the architecturally built form, design resolution or aesthetics. I believe now that the role of the architect solely lies in the design aspect of architecture. The design aspect of architecture is continuously evolving, and architects are constantly coming up with new ideas. This has been further accelerated by the technological advancements in the field, thus leading to the expansion of knowledge on the design aspect of architecture. While studying the design aspect, it is vital to consider the recent architectural styles, such as contemporary, post-modernism and modernism.

Architectural Styles

Modernist Architecture.  Modernism is a style that was founded in the early years of the twentieth century. An icon of modernist architecture is Le Corbusier's United Habitation in Marseilles, France. Modernist architects were against the ways of their predecessors who relied heavily on ornamental, architectural designs. They had a rather different perspective of architecture, and thus were interested in creating space and structure exactly the way it was needed. Designing a simple structure reminiscent of the natural world that surrounded it is a good example of modernist thinking. Many buildings designed by the architects at that time were said to be competing with nature due to the fact that they were built in the shape of their surroundings instead of blending in with the surroundings. The famous phrase “less is more” coined by Robert Browning and later adopted by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, a renowned scholar, is understood to be the underlying principle of the modernist design theory in architecture.


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Post-Modernism Architecture.  The era of modernist architects was followed by the age of post-modernism which commenced in the early 1970s. Postmodernism was more of a blend between modernism and the era prior to modernism. This was due to the fact that postmodernist architects relied on decorative and ornamental features and additions in their designs of buildings. This type of architecture was, therefore, an improvement on their predecessors, despite having decorations and unplanned angles. Advances in technology fostered discovery of new architectural ideas and concepts, and ultimately the expansion of the architectural field. As a result, the post-modernist architecture has come to be more modifiable and more sculptural. These properties of post-modernist architecture are a response to the prior modernist architectural outlook, design and movement. The post-modernist architecture has over time transformed into a more profound, less rigid and sculptural form of architecture. The most notable post-modernist architects include Richard Rogers who designed the Centre Georges Pompidou museum in Paris, France, and Frank Gehry who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

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Contemporary Architecture. Contemporary architecture is generally understood being all the architecture that was developed in the 1980s. However, this type of architecture has evolved eventually due to the advancement of technology, the discovery of new architectural ideas and concepts, and ultimately the expansion of the architectural field. Advancement in computer technology has made it possible to simulate architectural designs, thus shedding light on conceptual thinking and architectural styles. Advances in computers have taken the theoretical thinking as well as insight into recent architectural styles to new heights, and given rise to a new style that has never been experienced in the architectural world before. Contemporary architecture is considerably influenced by post-modernist architecture due to being decreasingly rigid, sculptural and also having an ornamental and decorative aspect. Contemporary architecture is continuously pushing the envelope in an attempt to formulate something new, while trying not to forget that contemporary architecture has its origins in post-modernist principles. These periods continuously influence and intersect with each other resulting in the emergence of new architectural ideas. Therefore, the modernist, contemporary and post-modernist theories unceasingly develop by impacting and building off each other.

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Design Aspect Analysis

Ideas that culminate from the design aspect of architecture are usually applied or practiced in two ways.

  1. Firstly, the design aspect of architecture should be practiced through application of the aesthetic aspect of design, whereby this aspect primarily focuses on the aesthetic value of the building or structure being designed. This is mostly to do with the decorations, shape, constituents, ornamental aspect and general aesthetic value of the design.
  2. Secondly, it is the practical aspect that is usually considered in the actual blueprints of the structure, which includes the dimensions of the overall design.

To create, design and construct a building, a team of experts in different fields, such as surveyors, civil engineers, architects and other experts, is usually hired. There is, however, one aspect that differentiates the architect from all other members of the team. The architect makes decisions or bases his or her opinions on his or her experience with other buildings. The design theories only change when an architect discovers a new design, or due to ongoing technological advances.

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Pinpointing particular theoretical ideologies proves to be problematic due to the animate nature of every movement; therefore, historians use these definitions and time periods when they lecture or talk about architecture. If a building is said to be contemporary, then it would be true to say that the building is also post-modernistic because contemporary architecture evolved from post-modernism. However, more clearly defined meanings and definitions should be stipulated for different styles.

Architects should look at the design aspect of architecture in the everyday activities. He or she encounters various individuals in his work who are knowledgeable in the field of design. These groups are carrying out a task that is supposed to be in line with the fixed design of the work at hand. Moreover, each group has some share, and may opt to use various ways to accomplish the task they have been chosen for. The architectural design manager, therefore, requires an alert mind to be able to accomplish what seems vague or ambiguous in his line of work. In addition to the abovementioned methods, design model and design techniques enable to grasp the primary features of a project, and, therefore, develop various policies and measures to undertake his task in a more refined manner.

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The most archaic written evidence of design theory architecture is Ten Books on Architecture written by Vitruvius in the first century B.C. After that, architects have been saving and documenting their various ideologies concerning architecture. Such records often document a unique idea (Rowe 1987), showing what architects must execute, rather than what they really concentrate on. Various scientific researches on design theory are really of recent times, dating back to the 1950s.

These researches are related to the systems theory, and they were a response to a requirement to handle vague tasks, since they were much more chaotic to manage at that point in time. Generally speaking, that sector was referred to as design methodology, and during its years of advancement, general knowledge and technical knowhow have been reviewed, and newer versions have been forwarded back to the design fraternity.

How to Develop the Design Aspect of Architecture

Our grasp of design theory of architecture is still narrow and really needs to be looked at from a professional angle. Indeed, researchers face a dilemma between two very peculiar methods of design, such as design as rational problem solving versus design as reflective practice. Design as rational problem solving brings about the issue of breaking down of problem, finding design, problem solving and infusing partial solutions to full solutions.

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Therefore, measurable methods would be better than qualitative techniques for use in this context. Furthermore, design as a reflective practice postulates that the architect continuously breaks down and apportions the problem in situations of varying urgency. Therefore, the architect needs to identify a design problem, come up with a partial solution, and confirm whether the solution brings the expected results. Rational problem solving has a solid theoretical foundation, but really looks much more real to an architect; therefore, one must keep that in mind before making any hasty conclusions.

It is vitally important for architectural design managers to grasp a number of a widely accepted important tactics concerning design. The major one is that design problems are the worst structured at the topmost level, or even whack (Rittel &Webber 1973). The result is that breaking down a problem does not mean that it will remain from the beginning to the end; getting to grasp the design schedule is extremely intertwined with making design solutions. Therefore, design groups are required to keep a record of all vital issues. Mistrial in conceptualizing arises inevitably, but it leads to a balanced or optimally chosen result. However, in many cases, it is difficult to ascertain and verify; therefore, it has resulted in more complex alternative methods for architects to use in order to get the best solution.

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As already discussed in the previous paragraphs, design methodology used to be a mixture of design methods and scientific design. Now, these two areas are considered to be unique, and it is, therefore, vitally important to discuss them. Design methods are essential if a design solution is required in volatile situations, such as when the cost involved is very high, when the process has to be accounted for; when the design work is very ambiguous and when a vast number of groups are involved in the design project. Design methods are normally a subject of scrutiny for many architects. Many architects dislike discussing their task schedule in terms of techniques used because it involves repetitiveness that supersedes originality.

Owing to information and communication technology advancements, many architects and architectural companies have commenced testing new design methods. For example, the Internet has transformed communication structures and enabled the development of international design groups that work 24 hours a day in various time zones. By upgrading ICAAD software the parametric modeling also needs varying design policies. Such patterns have an effect on the design stages unless there is a discussion of these changes in the context of design methods. In ADMS, they strive to put in place a unique deciphering of a design method.

An item is considered to be a design method when: it states a defined objective within the design schedule; it outlines various steps and systematic order of ways; it can be applicable in more than one scenario; other persons can incorporate it into their process; the outcomes of a step are experimental. The application of a design method does not necessarily guarantee a perfect result. A design method by virtue of its wording filters out various dimensions about a design problem, upon which results must be formulated. What exactly a design method does is show which steps are of essence, and which format is to be used to carry out these steps.

As far as the architectural design manager is concerned, it is absolutely vital to know how exactly a design method will impact a design group. All the things that do not comply with the necessities of a design method can, nonetheless, be incorporated into the task - one just does not have to refer to it as a design method. It is, therefore, perfectly normal to use a method, but it must not end up affecting security, since a method always filters out those dimensions which will ultimately be considered as essential to the task at hand. Moreover, using a method may not prevent the architect from having a diverse knowhow concerning the design, and hence it is advised that methods should only be used by professionals.

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The tasks explained in this article are based upon researches in which the architectural design manager encountered a new ideology not familiar to him previously. In the guidelines of design theory, a handful of projects were accomplished on the basis of rank, and groups who had an interest in an ADMS particular job level 2003-2007. In the entirety of this work, the difficulty of the project can, therefore, be traced. In the guidelines of design methods, a handful of tasks were described and explained, as well as their dimensions and various appealing attributes that they possessed. This, therefore, assisted the architectural design manager in having in-depth knowledge of the design stages and the tasks he or she had been awarded to accomplish.

The discontent with architectural designs in the 20th century resulted in the revolution of the architectural design theory. Architects began to come up with fresh designs and even changed their perspective on architecture. This served as forerunners of modern architecture. It was the opinion of most architects that buildings were converted into excessively decorated and ornamented structures with a variety of styles, thus making it impossible to determine their function. It was their belief that architecture was not about improving the work of past architects or modifying what existed in the past, but rather meeting the needs of the common man. These architects were of the opinion that buildings should not be filled with decorations and ornamental designs, but be built to suite the purpose. A good example of such a concept is the Deutscher Werkbund, dated 1907.

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With new facts emerging in science and technology, architecture and engineering started to be considered as separate fields. The architects started to focus more on artistic and humanistic features and less on practical characteristics of structural design. There also emerged a concept of "gentleman architect" who focused mainly on visual aspects resulting from historical archetypes, which were exemplified by numerous state houses of England that were constructed in the Neo-Gothicor Scottish Baronial styles. Architectural styles taught in the nineteenth century, such as Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France, attached more importance to the reproduction of attractive drawings and less to setting and viability. Design architects usually received their training by working as apprentices for other architects.


In conclusion, architecture has come a long way since its inception, and it still has a large part to play in this world. The choice of design has depended on the architect, period or year and culture. Throughout the entire 18th century, the majority of architects used the same designs; therefore, buildings were mostly decorated and ornate. Architects were mostly engaged to build castles and palaces for kings. All the designs relied heavily on expensive decorations and ornaments and were also quite big, notwithstanding the part of the world. With the advent of the 20th century, buildings began to be designed to suite the purpose. For example, factories were built to accommodate workers, while office buildings were built to house office personnel. This was different from the previous times when huge palaces with adorned architecture were erected as symbols of power and wealth. The culture also influenced design of structures and buildings. Architects from different countries were influenced by their cultures; therefore, their designs reflected the design of buildings and structures prevalent in their community. However, alternative means of architectural design are based on collaborative and community driven approaches and, therefore, architect should be innovative and look to formulating designs that suit the purpose.



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