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authors Broadbent, G.
year 1975
title Design in architecture: architecture and the human sciences
source Wiley J, London
summary Broadbent first investigates what an architect is as a person. Trying to understand how an architect thinks and what sets him apart from the other members of a building design team. To achieve this Broadbent makes a study of various psychological reports which have been generated about architects. Although it would seem that the reports are inconclusive about what characterizes an architect. In particular there would seem to be a great difference between the personality of average and outstanding architects. Characterizations have been made about personality types in general and they include, creative and non-creative, tolerant and prejudiced, introverted and extroverted. Many of these terms carry linguistic connotations which are perhaps misleading. One of the less emotionally loaded distinctions is between cyclothymes and schizothymes. Cyclothymes seem to be sensitive and sociable people with good verbal reasoning skills. By contrast the schizothymes dissociate intellectual and emotional aspects of life tending towards self-sufficiency, reserve and intolerance. Some outstanding designers have been characterized as the latter, whereas some studies would favour the former characteristics for average architects. Although there does not appear to be a clear definition of the character of an architect, some interesting distinctions between broad types of thinkers can be identified. One classification is between convergent and divergent thinkers. The difference between convergent and divergent thinkers re-occurs throughout the book. Convergent thinkers are generally associated with the sciences, and will work effectively towards one correct answer to a given problem. Divergent thinkers respond well to open-ended questions, taking pleasure from the task of proposing many alternatives to a given problem. Divergent thinkers seem to enjoy ambiguity in a problem and are happy to work in this situation, convergent thinkers prefer precise problem definitions avoiding "messy" situations. Convergent thinkers seek to find an abstract perfection, through precise logical arguments, something which divergent thinkers mistrust. Although all architects will fall somewhere between these two extremes, as with all the polarizations presented, there are examples of successful architects who show tendencies to either one of these types of thinking. It has been suggested that successful designing requires both types of thinking. The creative process described in simple terms relies upon the creation of a set of possible solutions and a critical selection process to choose the most suitable. Divergent thinking works best at producing alternatives, and convergent thinking works best at selecting the best solution from a given set. The divergent thinker works within a vague framework, while the convergent thinker works within the well-defined set of possibilities presented.
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