Design Systems, Master’s Course at the Master’s Program Design for Sustainable Development, 7.5 credits
When working with sustainable urban development, sustainable building or sustainable design you need to integrate a variety of parameters into a whole design. However, the content, functions and interdependencies of urban landscapes, built environments and artifacts, regardless of size, are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to grasp. They can be seen as a mix of hardware (physical stuff), software (control and information flows), orgware (rules and administration), finware (costs and financing), ecoware (environmental concerns), shareware (commons, collaboration and generosity) and other “wares” not to forget form, attitude, sense of place, space, etc.
Though systems thinking could be argued to be an inherent part of sustainable design, it is rarely pulled to the forefront and used as a specific tool in the design process. It could be useful to examine and improve this skill and explore the tools that can help us manage and deal with the complexity inherent in the design challenges before us. This type of investigation into systems thinking, mapping and analysis in relationship to the design process is an emerging practice and field of research around the world, the course therefore takes an explorative approach into the world of systems thinking. Its ultimate aim is to uncover, investigate, discuss and develop the role of systems in design and vice versa. The course provides opportunities to explore systems and their ability to expose our thinking process, build understanding, support dialogue, as well as uncover, understand, explore and explain the interdependencies of different aspects of a program, situation or design solution.
After the course the student is expected to be able to:
1) Explain systems thinking and its relevance for design, architecture and planning.
2) Understand some of the systems thinking approaches that are relevant for design, architecture or planning tasks.
3) Structure, challenge and expose knowledge (or lack thereof) about the interdependencies of a design problem through systems thinking.
4) Tentatively analyze and synthesize complex knowledge by employing systems thinking, i.e., by combining and integrating different systems approaches to identify leverage points for positive change.
5) Reformulate such analysis and synthesis into design criteria and conceptual design proposals using systems thinking as the language of communication and justification.
Examiner and head teacher:
Jaan-Henrik Kain (Chalmers Architecture)