A FEW THOUGHTS ON NUANCES IN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

There is a tendency to normalize objects, to make systems efficient.

The process of normalization inevitably washes away nuances. Architecture, in my humble opinion as a beginner in this field, integrates this process to a significant extent, not only by using certain unified methods of documentation - drafting, model making, BIMing, but also by aligning languages used in design thinking among professionals.

While aligning methods and languages has its own benefits, there is a risk of losing the sensitivity to nuances that are traditionally not easy to be translated into architectural elements. Think about how often it is to hear “human experience” in architectural design thinking, while “data of human experience” is relatively rare. The nature of objectivity in “data” contradicts the common sense among professionals that design for human experience is a subject matter. However, data together with some imagination can make up a wonderful cocktail of design insights.

A designer who wants to design a good office space would usually want to decrease distraction to improve focus of users by programming and using proper construction materials. However, as far as focus of production work can be tied to 2 modes of thinking, described as fast thinking and slow thinking by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, architectural translation of “improving focus” can lead to 2 outcomes, depending on which mode to solve for.

From a practical perspective, the 2 outcomes do not necessarily differ from each other significantly. There comes the question :”Why bother to introduce nuances? Paradigms of the day are efficient and work just fine.” While the statement can be true in lots of cases regarding outcomes, it does not necessarily reflect a good process of human-centered design, which, by definition, is inclusive of nuances of human behaviors that should be part of design conversations.