Mental space as a computational metaphor for architectural design.
Despite the development of computational technology and AI over the past 40 years, it
is the case that the application of computers for architectural uesign, especially in
the early design stage, still remains in its infancy. This thesis searches for a solution,
from a theoretical framework, for the computation of design, which is different from
the problem-solving paradigm often adopted.
Firstly, the thesis accounts for designing as a phenomenon of design thinking-action.
That is, the two activities - doing the thinking and design action - usually occur and
develop simultaneously, and are characterised as a creative activity and a visual
Secondly, in order to account for the mental mechanism occurring in design
thinking-action, this thesis describes the designer's mind as with a metaphor derived
from current theories in image processing research in cognitive science; the ideas of
mental space. In the thesis, mental space is defined as a conscious system, which has
its structure and functions that can transfer external events into inner symbolic
representations (design thinking) and simultaneously visualise these internal
representations during the external process (design action).
Thirdly, based on these theoretical assumptions, I propose a mental space
computational model, which is a design computational environment to attempt to
mimic the mental operations and processes in the architect's mental space. It focuses
on design activities rather than design cognition; the usefulness of computers for
design rather than the computability of design; and design tools rather than memorybased
Throughout this thesis, I try to avoid the dualistic arguments which classify
architectural design as either artistic or scientific, so that I can provide an inclusive
theoretical foundation in explaining design phenomena for general design studies as
well as for CAAD (Computer-Aided Architectural Design).