Plowright seeks to demystify design in architecture

Release Date: November 3, 2014
Philip Plowright

                   Philip Plowright

Associate Professor Philip Plowright of LTU’s Department of Architecture has written a book that seeks to take the mystery out of designing a building. “Revealing Architectural Design: Methods, Frameworks and Tools” was published earlier this year by Routledge.

The book examines the architectural design process from the point of view of thinking structures, including knowledge domains, domain syntax, coherence, framing, thinking styles, decision-making and testing. It makes the connection between intentions for designs and the underlying frameworks that can be used to aid that process.

“I was surprised to find no books on architecture that explicitly addressed what has become called ‘design thinking’ – the conceptual processes and methods of design,” Plowright explained in an interview posted online by his publisher. “There simply wasn’t anything comprehensive that focused on architecture in order to teach students the conceptual side of design through process and method.”

According to Plowright, the problem is that it is generally assumed that the process of creating a design cannot be described. This stems from many cultural factors, such as the need to define activities in either rational or irrational poles, the myth of genius, and the fallacy of separating artist and scientific “thinking.”

Revealing Architecture Design

In fact, design uses both creative and analytical processes at the same time. Plowright wants architecture students to realize that they have at their disposal major frameworks used in all design processes as well as standard conceptual tools.

“Simply, design can be taught and learned. It isn’t a mystical thing that some people are born with and others will never understand. Of course, some people have more aptitude to the processes,” Plowright said.

At the end of October, “Revealing Architectural Design” was no. 14 in sales for architecture books published by Routledge.

One customer review on said in part: “Every first year architecture student should own a copy of this book. It lays out in a clear and understandable way the basic principles of architectural thinking and process methodology. Furthermore, the author does a good job of demystifying the erroneous notion that architecture is an arbitrary and strictly intuitive discipline.”

Born in England and raised in Canada, Plowright holds degrees in studio art, art history and architecture from the University of Guelph and the University of British Columbia, and is pursuing advanced research in cognitive linguistics at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. He is editor-in-chief of Enquiry, the journal for architectural research published by the Architectural Research Centers Consortium.

At Lawrence Tech he teaches courses on architectural theory, architectural design, design methodology, competitions and cognitive framing. He has been a faculty member at Lawrence Tech since 2005.

For more information on the book, go to


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