Towards an Interactive and Integrative Design Process

Contemporary design and production processes make it obvious that achievements in the field of digital technology have indeed had an impact on the practice of architecture. Moreover, we cannot fail to notice that the possibilities for applying digital technologies to architectural production are no longer limited to the creation of photo-realistic visualizations of proposed structures or the algorithmic design of organic forms. After all, the computer today is much more than just a simple rendering machine or a technical aid in consummating designs. It is, first and foremost, an instrument that performs calculations and operations that support the process of analyzing, evaluating, and generating architectural and urban designs, and it opens up a totally new mode of collaboration that facilitates the simultaneous and continuous integration of the countless individuals involved in the design and production processes. It furthers effective interaction among clients (consumers) and proposed architectural projects by allowing individual input to interface with project databases.

On one hand, this is so because the authorship of the architect in a new form is being called into question or even dismissed completely. Whereas architects in the aftermath of modernism tried to get away from subjective authorship by making use of various design methods such as the application of surrealistic or automatic processes, the construction of writing machines, the overlaying of historic information or the projection of the psycho-physiological make-up of the author, this takes place automatically today in an interactive and integrative design process.

On the other hand, this is due to the fact that a consequence of an interactive and integrative design process is the pragmatic reversal of design approaches of the ‘60s. Whereas, in those days, architecture’s typology, structure and language of form still attempted to synthesize the common denominator of future inhabitants and users that was held to be universal, now the architect is in a position to parametrically formulate the architectural design. This means that the architect programs the basic design concept on a computer and opens up possibilities for alteration and interaction so that the client can change the basic design via computer in accordance with his/her individual wishes. What this gives rise to is design that is—in contradistinction to serial monotony—individualized to the specific requirements of each respective client.