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PDF papers
id cf2011_p024
authors Tidafi, Temy; Charbonneau Nathalie, Khalili-Araghi Salman
year 2011
title Backtracking Decisions within a Design Process: a Way of Enhancing the Designer's Thought Process and Creativity
source Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures 2011 [Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures / ISBN 9782874561429] Liege (Belgium) 4-8 July 2011, pp. 573-587.
summary This paper proposes a way computer sciences could contribute to stimulate the designeré─˘s reflexive thought. We explore the possibility of making use of backtracking devices in order to formalize the designeré─˘s thought process. Design, as a process of creating an object, cannot be represented by means of a linear timeline. Accordingly, the backtracking processes we are discussing here are not based on a linear model but rather on a non-linear structure. Beyond the notion of undoing and redoing commands within CAD packages, the backtracking process is seen as a way to explore and record several alternate options. The branches of the non-linear model can be seen as pathways made of sequential decisions. The designer creates and explores these pathways while making tentative moves towards an architectural solution. Within the design process, backtracking enables the designer to establish and act on a network of interrelated decisions. This notion is fundamental. It is quite obvious that information, in order to be meaningful, must occupy a specific place within an informational network. A data, separated from its context, is devoid of interest. By the same token, a decision takes on significance solely in combination with other decisions. In this paper, we examine what kinds of decisions are involved within a design process, how they are connected, and what could be the best ways to formalize the relationships. Our goal is to experiment ways that could enable the designer and his/her collaborators to get a clearer mental picture of the network of decisions aforementioned. The non-linear model can be seen as a graph structure. The user moves wherever he/she wants through the branches of the structure to establish the network of decisions or to get reacquainted with a previous design process. As a matter of fact, it can act in both ways: to reassess or to confirm a decision. On the one hand, the designer can go back to previous states, reconsider past choices, and eventually modify them. On the other hand, he/she can move forward and revisit a given sequence of decisions, so as to recapture the essence of a previous design process. It goes without saying that knowledge regarding the design process is constructed by the designer from his/her own experiences. Since the designeré─˘s perception evolves as time goes by, the network of decisions constitutes a model that is continuously questioned and restructured. The designer does not elaborate solely an architectural object, but also an evolving model formalizing the way he/she achieved his/her aim. As Le Moigne (1995) pointed out, the model itself produces knowledge; afterwards, the designer can examine it so as to get a clearer mental picture of his/her own cognitive processes. Furthermore, it can be used by his/her collaborators in order to understand which thread of ideas led the designer to a given visual result, and eventually resume or reorient the design process. In addition to reflecting on the ideological implications inherent to this questioning, we take into account the feasibility of such a research project. From a more technical point of view, in this paper we will describe how we plane to take up the challenge of elaborating a digital environment enabling backtracking processes within graph structures. Furthermore, we will explain how we plane to test the first trial version of the new environment with potential users so as to observe how they respond to it. These experiments will be conducted in order to verify to what extend the methods we are proposing are able to i) enhance the designeré─˘s creativity and ii) increase our understanding of designeré─˘s thought process.
keywords backtracking, design process, digital environments, problem space, network of decisions, graph structure.
series CAAD Futures
full text file.pdf (605,671 bytes)
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