Realtime Access Map
Configurational meaning and conceptual shifts in design
MetadataShow full item record
Configuration is defined as the entailment of a set of co-present relationships embedded in a design, such that we can read a logic into the way in which the design is put together. We discuss conceptual shifts during design with particular emphasis on the designer's understanding of what kind of configuration the particular design is. The design for the Unitarian Church offers an historical example of such shifts, authorised by Kahn's own post-rationalisation of the design process. We subsequently construct a formal computational experiment where the generation, description and re-conceptualisation of designs is rendered entirely discursive. The experiment serves to clarify the nature of conceptual shifts in actual design, and the reasons why a reading of such shifts cannot be based on discursive evidence only but necessarily requires us to engage presentational forms of symbolisation as well. Our examples demonstrate how a conceptual shift within a particular design can lead to the discovery of a new potential design world. In the historical case, the conceptualisation of a new design world remains implicit and inadequately specified. But the theoretical experiment allows us to make explicit how geometrically similar configurations that arise from the application of one set of generative rules may possess systematic but entirely unanticipated perceptual properties, subsequently incorporated in new generative rules.