4 Sharing intelligence: The problem of knowledge atrophy

Peter Brandon

This chapter explores the issue of combining design intelligence across a multidisciplinary design team. It will call on the experience of the author in developing so-called expert systems in the 1980s and the development of integrated models and databases through the 1990s. It will then explore the new forms of communication being developed in the University of Salford ‘Think Lab’, of which he is Director, using ambient and immersive technologies. It will draw conclusions from this experience as to where we should place our effort in the future for developing distributed design intelligence.

The act of design

We are all designers in one sense or another, in that we all contribute to the act of design in different ways. Design is to ‘work out the structure or form of something … to plan or make something artistically or skilfully … to form or conceive in the mind’ (Collins English Dictionary 2000). According to our role we may specify the requirements, we may suggest new approaches, we may constrain, we may stimulate, we may negotiate a compromise and, in each and every case, the design is affected by what the intervention contributes. Thus engineers, architects, planners, clients, contractors and even quantity surveyors have a role to play in the creative act. It is a team effort and has been so for many centuries, ever since complexity and scale became an issue in the design and construction of buildings. ...

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