Architectural Design Values – Aesthetic Design Values

Architectural design values make up an important part of what influences architects when they make design decisions. The expansion of architectural and industrial design ideas and vocabularies which took place during the last century has created a diverse aesthetic reality within these two domains. This pluralistic and diverse aesthetic reality has typically been created within different architectural and industrial design movements such as: Modernism, Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Post-structuralism, Neoclassicism, New Expressionism, Supermodernism etc.

All of these aesthetic realities represent a number of divergent aesthetic values, in addition to differences in general values and theories found within these movements. Some of the stylistic distinctions found in these diverse aesthetic realities reflects profound differences in design values and thinking, but this is not the case for all stylistic distinctions, as some stylistic distinctions builds on similar thinking and values.

The spirit of the time design value
This design value is based on the conception that every age has a certain spirit or set of shared attitudes that should be utilised when designing. The Spirit of the Times denotes the intellectual and cultural climate of a particular era, which can be linked to an experience of a certain worldview, sense of taste, collective consciousness and unconsciousness. Thus “form expression” which can be found, to some extent in the “air” of a given time and each generation, should generate an aesthetic style that expresses the uniqueness related to that time.

The structural, functional and material honesty design value
Structural Honesty is linked to the notion that a structure shall display its “true” purpose and not be decorative etc.[9] Functional honesty is linked to the idea that a building or product form shall be shaped on the basis of its intended function, often known as “form follows function”. Material honesty implies that materials should be used and selected on the bases of their properties, and that the characteristics of a material should influence the form it is used for. Thus, a material must not be used as a substitute for another material as this subverts the materials “true” properties and it is “cheating” the spectator.

The simplicity and minimalism design value
This design value is based on the idea that simple forms, i.e. aesthetics without considerable ornaments, simple geometry, smooth surfaces etc., represents forms which are both truer to “real” art and represents “folk” wisdom. This design value implies that the more cultivated a person becomes, the more decoration disappears. In addition, it is linked to the notion that simple forms will free people from the everyday clutter, thus contribute to tranquillity and restfulness.

Nature and organic design value
This design value is based on the idea that nature (i.e. all sorts of living organisms, numerical laws etc.) can provide inspiration, functional clues and aesthetic forms that architects and industrial designers should use as a basis for designs. Designs based on this value tend to be characterized by free-flowing curves, asymmetrical lines and expressive forms. This design value can be summed up in “form follows flow” or “of the hill” as opposed to “on the hill”.

The classic, traditional and vernacular aesthetics design value
This value is based on a belief that a building and product should be designed from timeless principles that transcend particular designers, cultures and climates.[5] Implicit in this design value is the notion that if these forms are used, the public will appreciate a structure’s timeless beauty and understand immediately how to use a given building or product. This design value is also linked to regional differences i.e. varying climate etc. and folklore cultures, which creates distinctive, aesthetic expressions.

The regionalism design value
This design value is based on the belief that building—and to some degree products—should be designed in accordance with the particular characteristics of a specific place. In addition, it is linked to the aim of achieving visual harmony between a building and its surroundings, as well as achieving continuity in a given area. In other words, it strives to create a connection between past and present forms of building. Finally, this value is also often related to preserving and creating regional and national identity.

The social change design value
This design value can be described as a commitment to change society for the better through architecture and industrial design. This design value is closely connected and associated with political movements and subsequent building programs. Architects and industrial designers that are committed to the design value of social change often see their work as a tool for transforming the built environment and those who live in it.

The consultation and participation design value
This design value is based on a belief that it is beneficial to involve stakeholders in the design process. This value is connected to a belief that user involvement leads to:
1. Meeting social needs and an effective use of resources.
2. Influencing in the design process as well as awareness of the consequences etc.
3. Providing relevant and up-to-date information for a project team.

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