Architecture as a system and innovation design discipline

A retrospective on architectural programming and its implications for the strategic extension of the discipline of architecture

  • Christos Chantzaras TUM Technical University of Munich


Talking about architecture means talking not only about buildings but also about processes or systems. In the latter context, architecture is a way of thinking and looking at people, spaces, interrelations and interactions. Proclaimed by IDEO’s Tim Brown as one of the best system design forms of education available, architecture has potential in fields beyond the physical. In keeping with the views of renowned systems thinker Russell Ackoff, who graduated in architecture before focusing on operations research, the question arises whether the skills of architects can be applied more broadly in system and innovation design. This paper describes how architects deal with context and complexity from the perspective of the practice-oriented architectural programming method. From its early days in the 1960s, it offered architects a viable basis for an applied architectural design thinking method, but did not receive widespread attention from practitioners and academics. The method is critically assessed and compared to the known forms of design thinking from the viewpoint of industrial design. By describing a real-life project and students’ work from a newly created seminar in a department of architecture, the paper investigates the current and future relevance of an advanced version of architectural programming for architectural practice and education. It stresses the desirability of reinforcing the core skills of architects by developing a design thinking method rooted in architecture, which needs to be taught, developed and disseminated. In the long term, it is argued, architecture should be considered and integrated as a ‘systems and innovation design discipline’ in the fields of systems thinking and innovation research.

Hvordan referere
Chantzaras, C. (2019). Architecture as a system and innovation design discipline. FormAkademisk - forskningstidsskrift for design og designdidaktikk, 12(2).