Abstract: The design space is a concept often used to avoid the optimization perspective over design. The design space is described as the sum of all possible designs for a given brief, floating in a world of ideas, peacefully waiting to be discovered and materialized by creative designers. The concept as such cannot go much beyond optimization. To go beyond, it is necessary to break through the cognitive paradigm and see the social construction of the design space, fueled by the contradictions that are inherent to the world of human beings. This renewed perspective has been applied to map the design space of a medical imaging center in The Netherlands. The boundaries that defined this design space were not self-imposed constraints, but imperative economic, political, and cultural conditions that contradict each other. To explore this question, the design space has been extended to a teaching experiment, where students analyzed the project drawings and proposed changes using a custom parametric modeling tool. This tool was also used to track and compare the design space exploration by practitioners and students. The comparison reveals that they faced similar contradictions, despite working under different conditions, what suggests that contradictions are intrinsic to the design space.
Download a draft: Contradictions in the design space [PDF]
Accepted for presentation at Design Research Society (DRS) Conference 2014 – Umeä