Strategic briefing : explicating the core of the design as a cognitive artifact

F. Al Hassan, P.G.S. Rutten, H.M.G.J. Trum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


A building as a concrete material artifact is the outcome of a stage of an evolutionary process. Previous stages successively end with artifacts of less material substances. A design, for example, is a semi- material artifact: a drawing on an external sketchpad. Prior to this stage, there is another stage involving the conception of the design as an immaterial (mental) artifact in the internal sketchpad of the client and the designers’ working memories. In other words, the conception of the strategy represented in a sum of underlying structures of concepts in a certain order that can be translated into mental images representing the design main concepts. In the past, the master builder implicitly performed this stage. In today’s common practice, it has almost been lost because it is hardly anyone’s specific responsibility in a multidisciplinary design context. Moreover, there are no models or tools to help replicating it, although we are nowadays more than ever in urgent need of regulating an important complex information hinge between the client and the mono-disciplinary design team members. The reproduction of this stage is therefore especially important when working collaboratively. The core of the design challenges as a mental artifact can be represented in the internal sketchpad of the client and designers’ working memories and can therefore be comprehended at the start of the design process by which all participants form a common reference and a shared memory. However, the core of the design, in order to be represented in such an effective form, has to be in a certain format, which is not the thousands of pages of the traditional brief because our working memory cannot deal with this large amount of necessary and unnecessary information at the start of the project. Only a few chunks can be simultaneously activated in the working memory in a way that can represent the whole design problem, and the strategy reflected as a set of the underlying structures for concepts that need to be developed in a certain order. This is an action to combine the concept of limits to the immediate memory span and the cognitive processing capacity of the brain as an information-processing machine or the concept of chunking. In this paper, we will try to discuss a theoretical basis for designing a tool, which can help explicating the design as a mental artifact based on this core concept, and also we will try to illustrate the state of art in this particular research area followed by recommendations, which indicate some future researches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Design Research in the Netherlands 2005, 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands
EditorsH.H. Achten, K. Dorst, P.J. Stappers, B. Vries, de
Place of PublicationEindhoven
PublisherTechnische Universiteit Eindhoven
ISBN (Print)90-6814-587-8
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Eventconference; Design research in the Netherlands 2005 symposium, 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven - Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Duration: 19 May 200520 May 2005

Publication series



Conferenceconference; Design research in the Netherlands 2005 symposium, 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven
Othersymposium held on 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven University of Technology


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