Verbal Thinking in the Design Process: Internal and External Communication of Architectural Creation

By Robert Barelkowski.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Contemporary design practice exposes the visual aspect of design. The visual properties of the artifact become so important, that it rivals functional and structural attributes in the process of evaluation. While the hierarchy of features favoring the form may appear justified in some areas of design; architecture and urban planning are fields where the process of materialization of the artifact (especially when physical) rarely is so hermetic as to allow the architect to subordinate the pragmatic and tangible constraints to the aesthetic qualities generated by their imagination. The multilateral nature and the uniqueness of each architectural (or urban) intervention requires a different approach.
The principal idea of the paper is to argue with the predominant perception of architectural design mainly as a result of visual thinking. The conceptualization, the formation of an idea, even software-driven explorations of a form are preceded and inherently accompanied by a verbal framework of ideation and criteria. This gives ground to arguing with introductory Brawne’s proposal of rethinking the famous sentence by Descartes (in his Architectural Thought), by adding just a few significant words – I simultaneously think non-verbally and verbally and therefore I am an architect.
To become successful in conveying the ideas one has to communicate them verbally. It works externally, when it is expected from the architect (almost always the case) at least to coordinate and judge principles of design among participating parties, but it cannot be detached from even the most limited procedure. The internal communication requires the architect’s self-understanding and his/her ability to recognize and judge values, but the choice should not rely on visual thinking alone. The paper will explore the verbal thinking content present in meta-design methodology which is used both as a model explaining the nature of design as well as a methodological framework devised to improve creativity and communication and to strengthen the link between architect and other participants.

Keywords: Design Process, Verbal Thinking, Visual Thinking, Architectural Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.127-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.943MB).

Prof. Robert Barelkowski

Professor, Institute of Architecture and Town Planning, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan Branch, Poznan, Szczecin, Poland

Robert Barelkowski is a founder and principal architect at Armageddon Design Office. Approaching architecture, urban design and spatial planning as multiple aspects of the process of transformation of space and environment led to his parallel professional and scientific commitments. In 1999 he received Ph. D. in architecture and in 2006 his habilitation (professor thesis) was accepted at the Faculty of Architecture, Krakow University of Technology. Since 2003 he is a member and currently Vice-president of Commission of Architecture, Urban and Spatial Planning presidium, Polish Academy of Sciences Poznan Branch. Robert is Professor at West-Pomeranian University of Technology and also holds professorship at University of Economy and Applied Sciences in Bydgoszcz. His multidisciplinary interests resulted in decision to perform simultaneous undertakings in profession and science to embrace the spatial arrangements in a holistic approach. Both clues interweave in order to acquire applicable results of research activities. Robert, involved in numerous publications in architectural and design magazines as well as in critical analysis of the subject, has lectured in multiple conference events on four continents. His primary concerns include design process, design methods and interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary applications in the discipline of architecture.


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