Thinking is a very complex process. Our brain never rests. We think as we go through our lives and never stop. During design process, architects think all the time, and they also think about how they think. Their decisions are conscious. They think about why do they do it the way they do. They argue with themselves. Being able to articulate the reasons behind decisions is one of their strong perks. But there is not only one kind of thinking. And each type has its time and place.
When we use linear thinking, we move on a path that has a goal at the end, there might be some sidetracks along the path, but the path itself is rather straightforward. That kind of thinking will eventually take you from point A to point B. Is that enough? Not for architectural design, but sometimes it is all we need. Use linear thinking when you know your path to a goal. Use it when you know the algorithm needed for reaching the goal, such as various calculations or determination of something based on certain criteria.
Whoah whoah…what the hell? Oh, that´s just very simplified diagram of radial thinking. Everything is influenced by the rest. Paths intertwine, interfere, go along, under, over, bypass and cross each other. Process is messy. And this type of thinking is a desired trait of every architect. Ugh. It is what it is. Imagine even a simple single family house. Client influences programming, programming stimulates the idea, idea conveys massing, massing determines materials, materials get evaluated by a client, client desires for certain style, style affects architect, and list goes on and on. The building is constantly morphing during design development and slowly get its shape. Idea is outlined and further refined. And the architect is juggling with all these aspects. At once. Use radial thinking for the whole design process, stay conscious and remember that everything is connected and decisions you make may override decisions made in the past.
But wait, there is more. I challenge you to try one thing. Think radical. Find the boundary. And once you have found it, go along. Push the boundary from time to time, poke it, bend it. You might even try to break it, just do not always follow the safe way. I am not saying that everything different is useful, solid chance is that you will hit a dead end. One step back and find another way. Never stop.
Mix linear, radial and radical thinking. Fuse them together and use them to your advantage. There is always a path. Do not limit yourself. Find what works and what does not. Design process is a trial. You break it or you might as well end up broken by it.
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