Design Methods at Cambridge
This chapter discusses the “design methods” research initiated by Christopher Alexander and pursued with more intellectual rigor by Lionel March at Cambridge University’s Centre for Land Use and Built Form Study. Alexander, March, and their colleagues attempted to apply mathematics and computation to the analysis of architectural problems in the hope of formulating a scientific method of design that could proceed (semi-) automatically from data—needs, costs, site conditions, material properties—to design. For March this explicitly meant reframing Constructivist goals and methods within the newly available context of electronic computation. Importantly however, over the course of a decade or so, the role of this new context shifted for March from one of direct scientistic calculation to one in which computation provided a new working space for the collective development and assessment of design.
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