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This PhD by project is an examination of process-based architectural design. It offers an examination of one approach to undertaking process-based experimentation in architecture – based on reflection of my own practice and body of work – through which I have been able to consider a complex array of questions and issues that are associated with working in this way. By “process-based” design, I refer to the approach whereby a process – consisting of a series of actions or operations – is choreographed in order to initiate and develop architectural designs (sometimes known as step-by-step, rule-based or generative design processes).
The methodology of the PhD involved undertaking and reflecting on a series of design projects, research led design studios, an examination of the Australian context engaged with by the projects as well as a substantial examination of the last thirty years of process-based practice in the international context.
By completing research into the field I argue that contemporary process-based work is built on an inherited foundation of ideas that are often considered to be naturally linked to this way of working and that despite an evolving of these methods in contemporary practice, these fundamental assumptions continue to be maintained; are rarely specifically acknowledged and can be seen to constrain this type of practice. The persistent, underlying assumptions about working in this way are not an inherent property of this type of practice. I demonstrate that they are simply properties which have grown to be normative values in contemporary work compromising the introduction of other possible approaches. I identify the recurring tropes and traits in relation to this practice and outline the compositional and formal prejudices present in process-based work that often originate from an unacknowledged set of architectural concerns.
I argue that the reasons one might use these processes might be different – away from these traditions and through my design projects demonstrate an expanded series of concerns for process-based design work. The differences in my design approach have occurred as a result of both incorporating my critique of the field into my own practice as well as developing a series of parallel investigations that inform this practice. These parallel investigations are undertaken as projects that consider; forming propositions for the contemporary Institution and public project in Australia; the use of ‘vision devices and systems’ in the design process as well as the operative potential of architectural ornament.
The PhD includes a section on my research led design studio pedagogy which considers questions of judgement in relation to process-based practice and provides a reconsideration of rigour in relation to these design practices. The viewpoint offered in this PhD has implications for how the discipline has traditionally understood process-based architectural design and the ability to expand future manifestations of this and associated design practices. The scope of this PhD has focussed on process-based design but the discussions are relevant to contemporary architectural design in general.
Examiners: Li Shiqiao, Ian McDougall, Felicity Scott Supervisors: Professor Sue Anne Ware, Professor Shane Murray