Linking Sketching and Constraint Checking for Early Conceptual Design
At the start of the conceptual design process, designers start to give tangible form to their thoughts by sketching. This helps with reasoning and communicates ideas to other members of the team. Sketches are gradually worked up into more formal drawings which are then passed to the other stages of the design process. There are however some problems with basing early ideas on sketching. For example, due to their ad-hoc nature, sketches tend only to be diagrammatic representations and so designers cannot be sure that their ideas are feasible and what is being proposed meets the constraints described in the client brief. This can result in designers wasting time working up ideas which prove to be unsuitable. Also the process of constraint checking is complex and time consuming and so designers tend limit their search of possible options and instead choose satisfying rather than good solutions. This paper describes the INTEGRA project which examines the role of sketching in early conceptual design and how this can be linked to other aspects of the process and particularly automated constraint checking using an IT based approach. The focus for the work is the design of framed buildings. A multi-disciplinary approach has been adopted and the work has been undertaken in close collaboration with practising designers and clients.
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