Culture : a dimension in design
Building is one of the earliest activities of man, whether building for shelter or for more complex symbolic needs the act of building was not a simple reactionary performance but rather was a behavioural process which embodied the total pattern of physical and intellectual forces acting from within and upon each person as an individual and as a member of a society. The intention of this research is to establish a better understanding of the intellectual development of man and the human society thus revealing the structure of the design activity. By understanding the nature of the design activity the right approach to architectural design education can be developed to prepare the architects of the future to cope with the diversified problems that will face them in the most natural and optimum way. Chapter one is concerned with the controversial physical aspects of the universe. The development of the human mind and consciousness is then traced to uncover the framework by which the different aspects of the universe are related to each other according to human understanding and awareness. Myth, magic and religion were found to be necessary concepts for the human outlook on life, as they signify man's need for symbols and images in communication and for society formation. As societies are formed distinctive cultures appear and develop for each social group, therefore the basic concern becomes the people's culturally meaningful systems of behaviour. Since architecture is a reflection of cultural values it is the three way relationship between the absolute universal rythms, the individual and cultural values, and the architectural output in a society, that determines the understanding of architectural form and the design activity required for its conformation. Chapter two discusses the theory and meaning of value asserting that the history of culture can be understood simply as a history of human values. However moral and aesthetic judgements do not occur in vacuum, and for this reason it is important to analyse them bearing in mind the context and the society in which they were issued. After considering a few methods to aid the designer to arrive at a choice of values; the history of aesthetics and its relation to culture and architecture is delineated. This demonstrates that the history of architecture is the history of the actual aesthetic consciousness and value systems dominating each cultural scene. Closer investigation of human responses is undertaken in chapter three, demonstrating the effect of culture on human perception as a selective force acting on the subconscious of the individual. The role of meaning and experience in understanding architectural form is substantiated by a cross-cultural field study on the appreciation of form in an attempt to identify the constructs that affect such appreciation and their deviations cross-culturally. The forces acting in an environment to produce architectural forms are then identified and defined as determinants of form. Chapters four and five are concerned with the relation between architecture and the human sciences and design methodology. Human desires and needs are assessed and creativity and imagination are related to the existing design methods. A design activity model based on the human behavioural activity rather than on a cybernetic analogy is proposed in chapter six. This activity model explains qualitatively the architectural design process in relation to the different forces acting on the designer as a decision-maker. Proposals for augmentation of, and changes in the educational system are discussed in chapter seven. The main aim of the proposals in these two chapters is to influence the process of architectural education, so that it becomes balanced in its approach and more effective in educating the architects of the future. Those designers of tomorrow should perform optimally according to their own intellectual and behavioural needs as well as within the technological, cultural and social constraints of their societies. Finally, this research establishes that qualitative analysis is a valid tool in explaining multi-variable situations where most of the variables are unknown as is the case with architectural design. Furthermore, it is recommended that future research efforts should be directed towards qualitative evaluation techniques in architectural design education, which in turn should be concerned with the whole structure of design thought in its technological, cultural and social contexts.