Analogical Models In Architecture And Urban Design

Abel, Chris
In an earlier article, "Function of Tacit Knowing in Learning to Design!' (Abel, 1981c), I suggested that design researchers need to pay more attention to the way architects actually create their designs, rather than relying on the idealized models of design processes dreamed up by themselves. This article is intended to help fill that need, and outlines the major types of analogical models used by architects, together with some straightforward explanations of the main concepts involved. The assumptive philosophy underpinning the approach is based in part on what I have called "critical relativism" (Abel, 1980b), a philosophy best known by the works of Thomas Kuhn (1962; 1977) and Paul Feyerabend (1975). Other key sources include the writings of Gİanbattista Vico (1968), George Herbert Mead (1934) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953) on language, Ernst Cassirer (1955) on culture-forms, Michael Polanyi (1958; 1966; 1975) on tacit knowledge, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1976) and Jurgen Habermas (1968) on hermeneutics, and Arthur Koestler (1964), Donald Schon (1963), Gordon Pask (1976) and othe'rs on metaphorical theories of innovation. This article therefore brings together in a simplified and summary form many of those theoretical constructs whose relevance for architectural theory I have explained elsewhere at greater length (Abel, 1968; 1980; 1981a; 1981b; 1981c; 1982a; 1982b; 1984; 1986a; 1986b), and which comprise the main elements of a comprehensive theory of architecture, and by extension, architectural education. It is also acknowledged here that architecture and urban design are historically related through the use of similar theoretical models, architects being influential at the larger scale of design activity. Though most of the examples given are drawn from Western architecture, the approach is suitable in principle for understanding other forms, particularly in the Muslim world, where there has been considerable cultural exchange with the West in past history as well as in the present.


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Citation Formats
C. Abel, “Analogical Models In Architecture And Urban Design,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 161–187, 1988, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: