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Design Values of Architecture

Architectural design values are the essential values and intentions that influence the decisions of architects and designers when making their designs. It’s a concept that determines why architects evolve designs which directly engender design identity. These values and intentions vary as architects and designers are not influenced by the same factors. They also vary among different architectural movements, and schools of architecture.

The varying intentions and values are regarded as a very big contributing factor to how architects or designers operate in their relation to clients. There are different design values in history and can be found in various design movements.

There has been an expansion in the architectural and industrial design values with diverse aesthetic realities. This has created different categories such as Modernism, Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Poststructuralism, Neoclassicism, New Expressionism, and Supermodernism. The influence that each design value has had on design movements and famous architects differs throughout history. Aesthetic design values such as artistic and self-expression is characterized by one’s inner imagination, intuition, should be the basis for designing.

The Spirit of the Time Design Value

This design value is based on the conception that every age has a certain spirit or set of shared attitudes that should be utilised when designing. The Spirit of the Times denotes the intellectual and cultural climate of a particular era, which can be linked to an experience of a certain worldview, sense of taste, collective consciousness and unconsciousness. Thus “form expression” which can be found, to some extent in the “air” of a given time and each generation, should generate an aesthetic style that expresses the uniqueness related to that time.

The Structural, Functional and Material Honesty Design Value

Structural Honesty is linked to the notion that a structure shall display its “true” purpose and not be decorative, etc. Functional Honesty is linked to the idea that a building or product form shall be shaped on the basis of its intended function, often known as “form follows function”. Material Honesty implies that materials should be used and selected on the basis of their properties, and that the characteristics of a material should influence the form it is used for. Thus, a material must not be used as a substitute for another material as this subverts the materials’ “true” properties and it is “cheating” the spectator.

The Simplicity and Minimalism Design Values

The simplicity and minimalist design values are based on the foundation of simple surfaces and geometry. It works on the theory that simpler designs free people from the everyday clutter of normal life, thus contributing to tranquility and peacefulness. It represents real art, also known as folk wisdom, and follows the idea that the more cultivated a person becomes, the less clutter they require.

Nature and Organic Design Value

This design value is based on the idea that nature (i.e. all sorts of living organisms, numerical laws etc.) can provide inspiration, functional clues and aesthetic forms that architects and industrial designers should use as a basis for designs. Designs based on this value tend to be characterized by free-flowing curves, asymmetrical lines and expressive forms. This design value can be summed up in “form follows flow” or “of the hill” as opposed to “on the hill”.

The Classic, Traditional and Vernacular Aesthetics Design Value

This value is based on a belief that a building and product should be designed from timeless principles that transcend particular designers, cultures and climates. Implicit in this design value is the notion that if these forms are used, the public will appreciate a structure’s timeless beauty and understand immediately how to use a given building or product. This design value is also linked to regional differences i.e. varying climate etc. and folklore cultures, which creates distinctive, aesthetic expressions.

The Regionalism Design Value

The regionalism design value is based on the belief that buildings should be designed in accordance with some specific characteristics of a place. In addition, it is linked to the aim of achieving visual harmony between a building and its surroundings, as well as achieving continuity in a certain area.

The Social Change Design Value

This design value can be described as a commitment to change society for the better through architecture and industrial design. This design value is closely connected and associated with political movements and subsequent building programmes. Architects and industrial designers who are committed to the design value of social change often see their work as a tool for transforming the built environment and those who live in it.

The Consultation and Participation Design Value

This design value is based on a belief that it is beneficial to involve stakeholders in the design process. This value is connected to a belief that user involvement leads to:

  • Meeting social needs and an effective use of resources.
  • Influencing in the design process as well as awareness of the consequences, etc.
  • Providing relevant and up-to-date information for a project team.

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