Corresponding author: Steve Harﬁeld steve.harﬁeld@uts. edu.au
hile the general contentions oﬀered below might well be widened to encompass a vast range of designed objects, this paper takes as its vehicle design in architecture. Imagine an architectural design competition. Without the need to examine any of the submissions received two simple and non-contentious assertions might be advanced. First, it might conﬁdently be predicted that no two entries will be the same, i.e. that each individual scheme will be diﬀerent from all the others submitted. Second, and with similar conﬁdence, it might be averred that, irrespective of the individual diﬀerences between entries, at a fundamental level all the design proposals will share a number of similarities. Putting aside the likelihood that the submissions will be amenable to categorisation and subdivision according to speciﬁc
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‘family resemblances’ (i.e. that, despite their individual diﬀerences, schemes will inevitably exhibit, and thus allow grouping according to, shared characteristics, be they formal, stylistic or strategic) this second assertion is usually intended to draw attention to, and thus to stress the signiﬁcance of, a diﬀerent and more fundamental aspect of sameness, namely the fact that all the competition entrants are working from the same brief. On the basis of this, the diﬀerences identiﬁed in the ﬁrst assertion are then most usually attributed to diﬀerences in the range and level of the skills, experience, professional competence, and imagination that the designer (or design team) can bring to bear on this common brief in preparing the design proposal.
Neither of these assertions, nor their respective ‘explanations’, is surprising. Indeed, they might be expected to be commonplaces for the design literate, who would have encountered them, albeit in a slightly diﬀerent language, in respect of many, if not all, of their experiences with design and designing, be they in the ‘real’ world of the professional designer or in the parallel academic world of the design educator. A particularly revealing example, almost inescapably couched in the ‘problem/problem-solving’...