Abstract

‘Modularity’, ‘redundancy’, ‘robustness’, … these and other terms refer to principles that are well known in design research and widely applied in many varieties of design practice. What is less well considered within design is that these same principles are invoked by scientists as a way to characterise the structure, function and underlying ‘logic’ of biological systems. More generally, they are also being studied in a wide variety of disciplines concerned with defining, modifying or maintaining systems, whether those systems are comprised of hardware, software, ecologies, economies, societies or some combination of these. This widespread interest in ‘design principles’ and, in particular, their attention from biologists, provides an opportunity for design research to provide other disciplines with well defined, well characterised and well related concepts. However, in design, science and elsewhere, the lists of design principles offered are often developed in a seemingly ad hoc manner and are evidently (and knowingly) incomplete. This paper suggests that a framework can be developed which structures the existing design principles in a way that is applicable across different types of system. We explore the foundations upon which such a framework could be built by drawing on work from a broad range of disciplines.

Keywords:

design; science; system architectures; biology; modularity; redundancy; ilities

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Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Towards a framework of design principles: Classifying system features, behaviours and types

‘Modularity’, ‘redundancy’, ‘robustness’, … these and other terms refer to principles that are well known in design research and widely applied in many varieties of design practice. What is less well considered within design is that these same principles are invoked by scientists as a way to characterise the structure, function and underlying ‘logic’ of biological systems. More generally, they are also being studied in a wide variety of disciplines concerned with defining, modifying or maintaining systems, whether those systems are comprised of hardware, software, ecologies, economies, societies or some combination of these. This widespread interest in ‘design principles’ and, in particular, their attention from biologists, provides an opportunity for design research to provide other disciplines with well defined, well characterised and well related concepts. However, in design, science and elsewhere, the lists of design principles offered are often developed in a seemingly ad hoc manner and are evidently (and knowingly) incomplete. This paper suggests that a framework can be developed which structures the existing design principles in a way that is applicable across different types of system. We explore the foundations upon which such a framework could be built by drawing on work from a broad range of disciplines.

 

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