An agentic account of design intentionality in computational architecture

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018




This thesis aims at understanding alterations in the conceptualization of design intentionality in relation to technological advances that bring new synthetic configurations to the world of design. The concept of intentionality used to be defined as central to human consciousness hence design intention regarded as exclusive to the human mind. The contemporary technological/ontological condition seems to displace this conceptualization of design intentionality sustained in conventional design processes, to think of design intentionality as embedded within computational agents through continuous feedbacks from designers, and reciprocally, designers’ intentionality is altered and expanded as a reflection of the emergent outputs from the computational world. Computational processes and their objects of design exhibiting the ‘emergent’, ‘unpredictable’ qualities are then expected to become accessible to the human mind by the formation of nested processes of interchanges between designers and computational agents. This study introduces the concept of ‘agency’ which brings a critical approach to the anthropocentric view on design intentionality by shifting the focus from the human towards distributed models and hybrid constellations including both human and nonhuman for a reconceptualization of design intentionality and the possibilities for its augmentation. To acknowledge the changing roles of the human and the nonhuman in the design process, this thesis postulates an ‘agentic’ reading towards intentionality. Such reading allows the concepts of design intentionality and emergence to be reconciled by a breakdown of the structures of intentionality into the notions of ‘design agency’ and ‘design action’ and dissolves the either-or-condition that appears to be a polarity between human-centered and techno-centered approaches.