Design approaches in industrialized house building : A creativity perspective

University dissertation from Luleå : Luleå University of Technology

Abstract: Industrialized house building has shown to enable benefits such as increased output, quality and profit. In order to reach these benefits, industrialized house builders strive towards structure and control of their processes, including design. Such structure is seldom sought for in architectural design practice, where individuality and autonomy is considered essential. How these differences in design approaches are likely to influence designers’ creativity is explored in this licentiate thesis, recognizing the importance of creativity when it comes to business performance, productivity and employee satisfaction. The analytical framework builds on a theoretical conceptualization of design approach features, including design task, design process, design organization and knowledge integration. These features are analyzed from a creativity perspective using heuristic or algorithmic design tasks, divergent or convergent design processes, autonomy or imposed structure from the design organization, and sole designer or teamwork as basis for knowledge integration. Four distinctive design approaches are empirically explored, two focusing on platform development and two focusing on project specific design. Three of these are explored using a case study approach, while the fourth is explored through interviews with multiple architects. The four design approaches displayed differences regarding creativity influencing factors. These differences were shown possible to relate to the expectation of creative outcome when initiating the design task. Imposed structure and a converging process can be regarded as suitable in engineering design with rather algorithmic design tasks, not aiming for high creativity. However, such an approach can also facilitate knowledge integration, which can enhance the creative potential of the design process participants. Autonomy and divergence on the other hand can be regarded as suitable when aiming at creative outcomes from heuristic tasks. What design approach to use should thus be decided based on the level of creativity that is sought for. If the aim is to arrive at highly creative solutions, the design approach chosen by the interviewed architects can enable such potential. Structure and well-defined problem definitions on the other hand, provide good support to synthesize and converge towards design solutions that fulfil the intended requirements but might not result in high creativity.

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