Presented at the Design Research Conference in Umea 2014. Download full paper at http://fredvanamstel.com/publications/contradictions-in-the-design-space
The design space is a concept often used to encompass all possible designs for a given brief, impossible to be determined, but passive of manipulation by creative designers. The concept as such cannot prevent deterministic accounts of design activity. With the aim of overcoming determinism, this concept is reconsidered beyond the cognitive realm, as part of the social production of space. This renewed perspective is applied to study a medical imaging center project in The Netherlands. The boundaries found in this design space were not self-imposed constraints, but imperative economic, political, and cultural conditions that contradicted each other. To reveal the materiality of the design space, the project has been brought to a teaching experiment, where students analyzed the project drawings and proposed changes using a custom parametric modeling tool. Students faced similar contradictions, despite working under different conditions, supporting the claim that the design space has intrinsic contradictions even if not cognized.