The following diagrams are some samples of ideas on how people might move around and through the site; how this influences the locations of programs and indeed what programs might be suitable to this level of the building. So far as I can see it at the moment there are three main pathways: along Grey St, along Glenelg St and through from Little Stanley St between the Conservatorium and the Piazza. There is an option for a laneway between the community centre and the ‘Con’.
Why is reflection on the design process important? I think it is fairly clear that reflecting on one’s design process develops an understanding of how ideas and solutions evolve and ultimately why the end result is the way it is. Different processes will unavoidably provide differing ideas and solutions (although there is some overlap and this is not to say that different processes can’t give rise to the same idea) and understanding and evolving this process develops progress and intelligence.
So, the benefit or reason for reflection is clear but how to reflect or knowing how to evolve a process for the better is more difficult to realise. Like design itself the details of the end product are often unclear and it’s through the steps taken along the way, the trials, the failures, the successes that the picture takes shape and form. That is, through an open mind one might look to use new methods simply because they are new and to observe the results and apply critical thinking to filter their potential. Thus they can be either added to or discarded from the design process tool belt.
In the end an architect’s own design process must be a result of their experience and knowledge and evolution of their process comes from expansion of this experience and knowledge. And so to remain open, to consider things which the subconscious might automatically discard it is important not to identify too much with one’s own process but to recognise that it’s present form is transient and that in 10 weeks or 10 ten years it might and probably will be completely different. So, to say that my style is ‘X’ or that I do things ‘this’ way is certainly true but that person must be willing to discard those styles or methods if in a future problem some alternate style or method leads to a better solution.
This, to me seems to be the benefit of reflection and development of the design process but to successfully carry it through is a difficult task and a continual one and as I’m still a student I have little experience with this evolution and perhaps these ideas that I’ve discussed are misguided but I am willing to discard them if and when better ones become apparent.
A key aspect of critical thinking is the ability to discard or change an idea when needed. Often as designers it can be easy to attach oneself to an idea/design concept/etc and as the process moves along it can be difficult to realise that these ideas need to evolve, to develop or to be put to the side. The design process is an evolving path and refinement comes from evaluating ideas and steps along this path and limiting undue emotional attachment certainly helps to move between phases towards a synthesized design.
Critical evaluation requires a variety of methods and sticking to one form of design development limits the understanding of the concepts. Physical models, digital testing, hand drawing, collages, etc are examples of development tools which encourage ideas and an understanding of where the design is at. Evaluating a range of mediums encourages a depth of critical thinking.
A knowledge of what’s happening in the world of architecture is also essential, by viewing architectural examples the brain learns to review and builds a subconscious library of design examples which will help to generate ideas for your own projects.
There are many considerations and influencing factors within the design process and this obviously creates something of a “juggling act”. A designer must respond to these factors appropriately and an example of this is logic versus creativity. Too much logical thought and the design may became stale and ideas difficult to generate while too much creativity may compromise functional requirements. Critical thinking is the ability to weigh up the effects and needs of the different factors involved. Ultimately the concept of critical thinking is a broad one and the best way to effectively apply it is through continual practice. Each person will have differing opinions and it is advisable for everybody to find their own methods for critically evaluating their designs. An example that I have used is a physical model to test shadow effects for a facade idea: