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Building(s), cybernetically

Timothy Jachna (School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present a model of the architectural design process as a set of interlinked conversations, to explain the role of the artifacts of the design process in facilitating these conversations, and to demonstrate alternative perspectives on the architectural process enabled by such a model.


Applying concepts and terms of Pask's Conversation Theory, the conventional architectural process is analyzed in terms of the nature of the conversations and artifacts at play within each phase. The implications of a rethinking of the architectural process in terms of Conversation Theory are extrapolated.


A Conversation Theory perspective on the architectural design process reveals the arbitrariness of the convention of the building as a final and fixed product. The introduction of a new class of artifacts in the design process could support a more sustainable and open approach to architecture.


The conceptualization of the software dimension of a building as an “entailment mesh” preserving and perpetuating the shared concepts constructed through the design process contributes new concepts to the discourse of responsive architecture.



Jachna, T. (2011), "Building(s), cybernetically", Kybernetes, Vol. 40 No. 7/8, pp. 1055-1065.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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