Input 2012 Cagliari, May 10-12 2012Creativity and Planning Process in Architecture: a Cognitive Approach Rossella Stufano, Dino Borri, Giovanni Rabino Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Università di Pisa, Italy Dipartimento di Ingegneria delle Acque e di Chimica, Politecnico di Bari, Italy Dipartimento di Architettura e Pianificazione, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Summary- Creativity- Mental images- Creativity in Architecture- The architect’s writings- Memory- Ontologies--Experiments- Conclusions and further research- References
CreativityCreativity is considered as an innate ability that reveals itselfthrough original creations.Creativity is a particular attitude towards a non-conventional transformation of reality which is representedas memory; it all depends on contexts, environments,teachers, reference points, and choices of life.
The human thought is a “complex machine”, develops anactivity made of many parallel processes that may combineand operate in various ways.When one wants to create a new idea there is an objectivebut this isn’t defined with accuracy: a unique and exactanswer doesn’t exist and a unique and rigidly determinedprocedure doesn’t exist either, (Johnson-Laird, 1998).
As all mental processes a creative process starts from somegiven elements and hasn’t a precise purpose, but only somepre-existent restrictions or some criteria that it has to satisfy;a creative process gives a result that is new for the person,and the result may not really be original: a mental processmay be creative even if other people have had the same idea,(Johnsons-Laird, 1998).
Mental imagesMental images are connected with the visual memory one;man has the ability to create new own mental images and torecall perceptions at a long time distance, (Arielli, 2003).This ability to recall a visual image even after many years isthe evidence that a long time memory exists.Kosslyn (1973) has developed a model of visual memory,calling “visual buffer” what Baddeley (1990) then called“visual-spatial scratch pad”.
Creativity in ArchitectureIn literature few authors have tried to construct the notion ofplanning on clear and universal basis. “Studying the planning process we discover that planning isincluded in the theoretical environment of problem solving”,(Simon,1995).Spatial creativity is a place on which it is more difficult toestablish an objective; an ambit of reference for readingartistic creation or architecture creation sends back to a gameof resemblances and reminiscences and sends back to drawmemories of the other artists and architects.
The architect’s writingsIn the planning composition the architects organize thedisposition of the primary geometrical forms according tocognitive environment in which they have been formed andaccording to the political environment from which planningrequests emerge.Creativity is expressed in a context of a strong intention; it isthe pressing intention that finalize the choices and that samecognitive process from which the planning action descend.
Every master refers to the memories of the places of hischildhood. Their architectonic experiences that remain deeplyrooted go on lodging as memory images and perceptionrecollections even in the planning processes of theprofessionals; their past experience remains a constantreference horizon.
Mental images and memory objects make up thatdatabase in which the expert agent has hisreference. The various places of his memory, whichconstitute his database in continuous evolution are anecessary part of the cognitive structure.
MemoryMemories are trips, places of habit, constructive experiences.The core for a growing creativity are memories, that’s why wechose to open the architects’ sentences to get out theirmental objects and making hypothesis and working withthem according to a spatial key design.
I talk about places: they express well my active participationto architecture in an active and even in a theoretical way.Often architecture identifies itself with the object and withgeography. Today I find in domestic and private trips, inpublic and scientific trips all the past and all the present andevery outline is worth the most abstract statement,(Rossi,1981).
The role of analogies using memoriesThe role of analogies is extremely important in the unfoldingof architectural process design.Similarities are the core of perception and of extrapolation ofthe underlying structures of real order.Finding such structures is the core of intelligence. Makinganalogies is the core of intelligence, (Hofstadter, 1995).The perception of structures, their extrapolation and theirgeneralizations are fundamental for creativity.
The attempt to define the essence of creativityconsists in having a strong intuition for what isinteresting, in using it recursively, applying it to themeta-level and changing it accordingly, (Hofstadter,1995).
OntologiesAn ontology defines a common vocabulary for researcherswho need to share information in a domain.The ontology provides a conceptual framework for therepresentation of information which is general and sufficientin detail so as to provide a rich structure support for theconstruction of models of the world, (Bateman, 1992).
We are interested in designing an ontology that functions as aspecial metalanguage for encoding:(i) pictures,(ii) the memory of the images,(iii) the geometric shapes (extrapolated from the memory image),(iv) the memory of geometrical forms (a formal declination in the composition of the elements during the composition process).
ExperimentsWe observed architects drawing both without and with agiven design objective.The development of the experiment demonstrates how thesame planning request activates in the expert agent particularlinks and not others.These links start a specific, special and adventurous trip inmemories and in study references. They may be technical,personal references, more or less revealed, more or lessaware, not randomly generated by a planning question whichis potentially fortuitous and substantially unknown.
Conclusions and further researchThis paper aims to describe and to draw attention to the vitalimportance for creativity in the design process in architectureof memories.We see the creative process in architecture as something thatrests on a solid base of memory.This may seem counterintuitive because often to createmeans to create something completely unrelated andindependent from the situations in outline or by priorknowledge of the agent.
The relation between memory and project isn’t deterministic.From the same element of memory may descend differentdeclensions of intuition and choice.The path of planning conception is reiterative as regards thereferences memories, as regards the imposed logic andsituational restrictions and it is not linear as regards the feed-back of the same choices that are made from time to time.
The ontology in a configuration of an interactive virtualdesktop is here conceived as a tool that is a constantexpansion of personal memory, from time to time to beinterrogated further and expanded.
We have indeed shown that the reference to memory is a keyelement in the mental mechanism of designing.For a further research, the objective is therefore to have atool that can be placed in front of architect’s own memories.Memories are accumulated, constantly renewed andexpanded, and we need a tool to not forget to have them,making them available to each new architectural project to bedeveloped according to architect’s own creativity.
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