Computational Methods and Technologies: Reflections on Their Impact on Design and Education

Computational Methods and Technologies: Reflections on Their Impact on Design and Education

Ning Gu (The University of Newcastle, Australia) and Michael J. Ostwald (The University of Newcastle, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-180-1.ch023


Computational Design Methods and Technologies: Applications in CAD, CAM and CAE Education surveys five major categories of contemporary computational technologies and explores their applications in, and interactions with, design and design education. The five categories of technologies are: Generative and parametric design systems; BIM; collaborative virtual environments; virtual and augmented reality systems; and interactive and intelligent environments. This final chapter reflects on the impact of these computational design methods and technologies, using Ostwald’s System-enabler Model as an underlying conceptual structure. The chapter explores changing relations between the representational, proportional, indexical, and operational systems in the design process, as well as emerging opportunities and challenges that arise from these methods and technologies. The impact of these new technologies and approaches is also discussed in the context of design education. The chapter draws together this significant body of work in order to provide a point of reference for the interpretation and critique of the new design knowledge and phenomenon encompassed in the five categories.
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The System-Enabler Model

Traditional design models typically focus on simulating or replicating the different stages of the design process. These stages, such as conceptual design, developed design, documentation, review and reflection, have been well documented in the literature (Schön, 1983; Cross, 1997; Lawson 2005). Although these traditional models provide a sound foundation for designers and researchers to understand and reflect on the design process, they provide very limited insights into those methods, techniques and technologies that enable and support the design process. Ostwald’s System-enabler Model takes a different approach that

“… is focused on the relationship between the meta-conditions of design (representation, proportion, information, operation) and the tools, devices and technologies that enable these conditions to be met. Thus, this is a framework recording the relationship between conceptual systems and practical enablers and therefore could be described as a system-enabler model of the design process.”

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