Architecture, Building and Planning - Theses
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Transformative processes for architectural design: a heuristic study of regenerative practices
This research investigates the role of design processes in nurturing initiatives and outcomes beyond the provision of physical infrastructure. Intertwining theory and practice, the research approach combines Heuristic Inquiry, Case Study and Design Research methods. Building on the literature and two case studies in Australia and Colombia, this thesis proposes the Enabling Design Process approach (EDP). The EDP recognises the ‘regenerative’ and ‘transformational’ capacity of design processes to nurturing collective and individual actions towards more inclusive, resilient and beneficial interactions in the creation of a project. The thesis starts by exploring literature that provides a planetary context to design processes, such as the concept of Transitions, the Ecological Worldview and the Social-Ecological System. Then it examines existing and emerging approaches in design, including literature that argues for the need to expand both the accessibility and agency of architectural design practice. The case studies provide demonstrations about how the different concepts in the literature work in practice allowing the emergence of the creative synthesis - The Enabling Design Process approach. The creative synthesis brings literature and case studies together to propose principles, capabilities and activities to apply to the design process of projects. The design process to rebuild a school project in Nepal offered a learning opportunity to put the creative synthesis into practice, providing insights into the potential and challenges of its application. The thesis concludes by discussing the possibilities of applying Enabling Design Processes in future projects and the ability of these processes to enable agency (individual and collective), support communities through significant change and to increase living systems awareness while designing built environments. This thesis offers four main contributions. The first is linking different theories through practice and, by doing so, contributing to various bodies of literature. The second is a methodological contribution to research in design and creative practices. The third is highlighting close connections between design and the social context, making design a process of ongoing dialogue able to raise levels of mutual understanding. The fourth is a design approach that enables designers and stakeholders of built environments to nurture social, ecological and personal development. By providing an intersection between different bodies of literature through practice, the thesis contributes to Transition theory, Regenerative Design and Development and Agency in design practice literature.