Architectural Design Thinking: Human-centred design

An architectural drawing with a rule and pencil.Design Thinking is about human-centred design. Empathy, ideation and experimentation are at the heart of the user-focused concept. It can be applied to management and services as well as design disciplines. The built environment consists of diverse professions – architects, engineers, drafters and construction workers. What if they all understood inclusion and human-centred design in the same way?

Architectural drafters work with architects and engineers by preparing drawings. It is a technical role and requires knowledge about the whole architectural process. While there is some progress on understanding and designing for inclusion by architects and engineers, this is not necessarily the case for drafters. What if you took a group of junior architectural drafting students and taught them the concept of Design Thinking? And what if they were hearing impaired?

An experimental study in Turkey did just that. The study was a mix of architectural knowledge and teaching methods specific to students with hearing impairments and language difficulties. So there is an element of UDL as well. In conclusion, the author says that Design Thinking has the potential as a teaching strategy in other educational settings. The conclusions cover both successes and pitfalls.The report is lengthy and detailed. 

The title of the article is, Design Thinking to Familiarize Hearing-Impaired Architectural Drafting Students with Human-Centered Design Concept

From the Abstract

Developing a human-centered design understanding in built environment-related professions and enabling them to encompass diversity are crucial for the improvement of more inclusive environments. There is a growing effort to implement inclusive and universal design issues to the educational programs of design and related disciplines for about two decades. Contrary to the developments in the pedagogy of “core” design disciplines, human-centered design perspective seems not to be widespread enough in the education of so-called “peripheral” occupations of design, like architectural drafting.

Published in the International Journal of Architecture and Planning, Vol 8, No1, pp:62-87

Is design thinking about inclusive design?

A desk with a large sheet of paper and pink post it notes. A person stands with their hand resting on the table. Design Thinking is not inclusive design.
Some design thinking…

“Design thinking” will not produce inclusive design, according to an article in FastCo by Katherine Schwab. She claims it just maintains the status quo. She also claims design thinking privileges the designer above the users and limits their participation in the design process. Despite being encouraged to empathise with users, the designer is the one deciding what elements of the users’ experience are relevant. Therefore ‘Design Thinking’ is not about inclusive design.

This article has links to an essay from Harvard Business Review by Natasha Iskander who refers to a six step design process that claims to solve any problem. Iskander says that design thinking doesn’t encourage innovation. Rather, it is a strategy to preserve and defend the status quo, which means the designer remains in control. There is more on Iskander’s challenge to Design Thinkers in her essay.