Article

THE NEED FOR INTERMEDIATE LEVEL PARADIGMS

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Abstract

Starting from a discussion of difficulties in the application of design methods in architecture, it is suggested that a common factor in such situations may be the use of paradigms or conceptual frames of reference too far removed from the experiential know-ledge base of users and practitioners alike. This gives rise to the call for 'intermediate-level' paradigms, and for the specification of desirable features of such paradigms in architecture. An example of such a framework is proposed, using 'occasion', 'place', and 'image' as its main constituent concepts.

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... A frame of reference based 'occasion' and 'image' as key concepts for the discussion of built environment (Mann 1980(Mann , 2009 is examined and used to develop measures of the value of buildings. The concepts of place value and building value are explored and seen as a function of individuals' assessment of the value of the occasions or activities it serves (occasion values), and of the functional adequacy as well as image adequacy of places in the building. ...
... Previous accounts of the occasion / image approach to architectural design, programming, and criticism [Mann 1980[Mann , 1988[Mann , 1992[Mann , 1995[Mann , 1997[Mann , 1999[Mann , 2006[Mann , 2009 propose the concept of occasion value not only as the centerpiece of a new approach to measuring the value of buildings, and suggest that the resulting measures might supplement or even replace current measures or indices of urban design quality. However, no precise operational definition had yet been developed, nor have practical approaches for its measurements been proposed. ...
... Previous accounts of the occasion / image approach to architectural design, programming, and criticism [Mann 1980[Mann , 1988[Mann , 1992[Mann , 1995[Mann , 1997[Mann , 1999[Mann , 2006[Mann , 2009 propose the concept of occasion value not only as the centerpiece of a new approach to measuring the value of buildings, and suggest that the resulting measures might supplement or even replace current measures or indices of urban design quality. However, no precise operational definition had yet been developed, nor have practical approaches for its measurements been proposed. ...
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Abstract A frame of reference based on ‘occasion’ and ‘image’ as key concepts for the discussion of built environment (Mann 1980) is used to develop measures of the value of buildings. Possible measures of place value and building value are explored and seen as a function of individuals’ assessment of the value of the occasions or activities it serves (occasion values), and of the functional and image adequacy of places in the building. Valuation of environments using a single variable and measurement unit should be replaced with multidimensional assessments based on subjective user valuations. Techniques for the development of occasion and image programs of users are discussed as the basis for the evaluation of proposed designs and built environments. The discussion reveals the interdependence of occasion value and built environment value. The approach facilitates articulation of distinctions between ideal or program valuations of occasions, realistically expected or estimated values, and values of occasions as actually experienced or realized in the environment. The relationship between program and experienced valuations can then serve as measures of performance of the actual environment. As occasion- and image-based value concepts are applied to larger environments such as neighborhoods and city districts, the resulting measures can be seen as potentially useful contributions to quality of life indicators that can link policies for improvement more specifically with actual features of the environment. The inclusion of proposed concepts in the discourse about societal well-being and governmental performance is recommended to complement the predominant use of single-unit measures such as the Gross Domestic Product as well as other proposed but equally general indices for societal well-being and happiness.
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What are the ways that environmental issues have been framed by prevailing societal values and priorities over the last 30 years, and what repercussions have these had for building research and practice? These questions are explored primarily through a review of the critical ideas, positions and agendas as documented in UK and North American building literature. The historical framing reveals a highly dynamic relationship between the proposition and introduction of ideas offered by research and practice, and society's receptivity to them. The environmental debate over the past three decades has shifted from an attitude of ‘survival’ to one of responsibility and stewardship. It is these two notions, along with other developments, that have indirectly shaped environmental policy, building research and practice. The paper concludes by speculating on future technological developments and overarching notions that may shape future environmental attitudes, receptivity and actions.
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A complete introspective record of an experiment with initial sketch design of a residential area is presented and analysed. To explore the role played by (explicit) knowledge, the designer applied Alexander patterns. Besides providing source material for further analysis, the paper offers insights into the use of Alexander patterns, problems confronting developers of knowledge-based computer aids, and, we believe, the general nature of sketch design.
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The search for scientific bases for confronting problems of social policy is bound to fail, becuase of the nature of these problems. They are wicked problems, whereas science has developed to deal with tame problems. Policy problems cannot be definitively described. Moreover, in a pluralistic society there is nothing like the undisputable public good; there is no objective definition of equity; policies that respond to social problems cannot be meaningfully correct or false; and it makes no sense to talk about optimal solutions to social problems unless severe qualifications are imposed first. Even worse, there are no solutions in the sense of definitive and objective answers.
Method in Architecture
  • Tom Heath
Heath, Tom. Method in Architecture, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, New Hork, Brisbane, Toronto, 1984. 81
Places and Occasions
  • Thorbjoern Mann
Mann, Thorbjoern. "Places and Occasions" in Design Methods and Theories, Vol. 14 No.2, 1980.