WIT Press

A Model For Adaptive Design


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WIT Press


T. Willey


There is an ever-increasing global imperative to investigate and utilise sustainable natural materials. This paper proposes a sequential model of design and construction which contends directly with this material category and, which itself, is drawn from natural systems of organisation and the principles of adaptation. The suggested model deals with the unexpected properties of natural materials and adapts to new possibilities which are surfaced through the design sequence itself. The paradigms offered by orthodox design are largely predicated on material consistency - materials which can be described through a representational design-language. However, it is proposed that the inconsistencies and variables that are found in unrefined natural materials are not easily integrated into this process, and a new model is needed. It is also argued that the high level of material specification, which is a prerequisite of reproductability, has forced a dislocation between planning and doing - concept and activity. This is a bi-polar practice, which, although convenient for the mechanisms of industry, negates reflection and adaptation and denies the reiterative feedback loop, which is a salient feature of natural design systems. Taking into account such models as reflective-practice and evolutionism, the proposed strategy is developed by incorporating the ecological concept of ‘emergent properties’, which, through its influential position within the schema, continually modifies both problem and solution. Adaptive-design is described and as a cyclical sequence, which engages simultaneously with both the abstract and concrete domains of designing and constructing. The sequence is tested using case studies and finally, a visualisation tool is illustrated as a way of disseminating adaptive-design as model for practice. Keywords: adaptive design, reflective practice, natural materials.


adaptive design, reflective practice, natural materials.