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ON GROWTH AND FORMS: THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND DESIGN PEDAGOGY

V. Hui, B. Bortoluzzi, C. Truong, A. Peci

Ryerson University (CANADA)
The increasing accessibility of computation and fabrication technologies in 21st century, ranging from advanced parametric modeling to 3D printing, have dramatically altered the landscape of design education in providing a nearly boundless productivity plain of design representation. This Third Industrial Revolution is a function of the confluence of increasing computational power and diminishing learning curves and technological barriers. Though this accessibility of technology has empowered emerging designers with the liberty to free themselves of conventional design tropes and investigate innovative ideas, the ease of generating imagery and physical representations of fantastic concepts has only widened the pedagogical gap between theoretical, academic pursuits and feasible projects for built reality. As digital design tools gain ubiquity in contemporary academic settings, a pedagogical framework must be established to ensure students can leverage the incredible potential these tools hold as channels for bridging conceptual innovation to application in the real world.

D’Arcy Thompson’s seminal work, “On Growth and Form”, in the early 20th century proposed a complement to Darwinism as it outlined a holistic view of interconnected systems the ultimately dictate the unique forms found in biological structures. If Darwin’s natural selection serves as an analog for the iterative, conceptual design process, then Thompson’s structuralism serves as a basis for designers to develop their ideas beyond the virtual and representational into tangible reality. The authors of this paper posit five key tenets of a design pedagogy “structuralism” that educators may use to drive design innovation without compromising feasibility.

These would include a project’s:
a) physical constraints and natural forces,
b) internal capacity and context,
c) external stimuli and response,
d) production and reproduction, and
e) role as an iteration of a greater evolutionary idea.