diagrams and diagrammatic practice
On design process in the DRL (AA) 1997-98

MA Thesis - Architectural Association School of Architecture, London

The Design Research Laboratory (DRL) is a recently [mid 1990's] established Architectural Association (AA) postgraduate course which investigates how to generate as yet unknown spatialities and social organisations. The DRL considers design work itself as a distinct form of research focusing on techniques to generate 'new' architecture. Of the several techniques in this search for alternative modes of notation, the diagram is paramount in a computer-aided process of design. The vast agenda of concepts, quoted and discussed during the course includes complexity, Interior Design, Space as Product, Folding, Smooth and Striated and Rhizome (from French philosopher Deleuze), Lanscape, Continuous Surface, Topology, Network, Theory of Catastrophe.

This thesis investigates the modes of notation in the DRL's design processes whilst at the same time exploring the DRL as a Laboratory. It scrutinises how these design processes differ from what is considered 'traditional'. The study engages with what, ultimately, is the goal of DRL research. In addition, it analyses the relationships between concepts and diagrams, investigating the contributions of these propositions and questions to current architectural discourses and productions as well as to areas beyond the discipline itself.

contents (download as pdf)


presentation of the Design Research Lab (DRL - AA)

Deleuze's account of the diagram

diagram, design process, and technique