Design Thinking, A Case Study:

Design Thinking A Case Study:

This article will focus upon an unusual design of an ancient ‘city gate’. It represents a story that came to light, as part of an archeological dig that occurred in Israel. It represents a fascinating design that was unlike any city gate of its day. It also provides some interesting parallels about how design was and continues to be used today. And it also provides an historical perspective on how design thinking was used in this ancient city.    

In the 9th century B.C, the city gate had become such an important feature in the ancient world, that it became a necessary part of building a city. However, over time, the city gate  soon became the weak link and no longer served to protect. However this story shows how design thinking was utilized to change all that. 

The Megiddo Gates, A Case Study:

The ancient city I am referring to, is the discovery of the City Gates of ‘Megiddo’. Through detailed records of the archeological dig, a plan was revealed in which the design of the gate system entailed an enclosed passageway that included internal chambers. Special chambers that served to provide added protection.  

The design of the ‘Megiddo Gate’ (sketch depicted above) reveals the actual floor plan of the ancient ruins. As the details emerged this gate system included  much more than a single gate, but also became a place of civic governance and commerce that occurred at the gate itself. In addition, the structure was built with a substantial foundation and long lasting materials. In addition, the wall structure was built to include an internal passage way with chambers, designed to be within the thick walled structure. In turn the walled gate became a fortified building structure that also housed diverse functions while also protecting the city gate. The design fundamentally changed the typical operation of the city entrance gate and influenced the way the city gate functioned. It was as though the city gate itself had become a symbol of royal governance. 

This ancient city gate revealed a design mindset, that incorporated an understanding of the various challenges of its day, and also how it was transformed the city.  The new Megiddo gates provided a novel and life saving approach for its time. It represent a solution that created several large multi layered walled systems of  large blocks that made it difficult to enter or traverse the passage for nefarious reasons. An apposing army that did dare to attempt to break through the first gate, was soon overwhelmed by the multi-gate system and battle ready stations on either side of the passage way. In addition, it was a very tight corridor of articulated rock walls and internal chambers which were easily supplied by a network of internal passage ways behind solid masonry walls. In addition, the slope of the passage way was also inclined. In time of peace, various systems were provided to allow for passage of goods and materials to traverse the passage. 

The Essence of Design Thinking:

In consideration of the above noted case study of the ‘Megiddo city gate’. We see a solution that moves well beyond the typical inherent weakness of the known city gates of its day and provided advanced functions and operations that dramatically improved the city on many levels. The design solution clearly represented advancements over the status quo, and boldly moved beyond the status quo; providing an extensive array of enhanced functionality and value to its citizenry. The new gate system also advanced an innovative approach in how it solidified the city as a royal seat of governance. No longer would the fortified gate here be taken for granted. Interestingly, the Megiddo city gate advancements did not use new material, or technology, but rather demonstrated its innovation with a design mindset. It used existing materials in new ways. And it utilized wisdom over a reliance upon brute force, or other such physical advancements of the day. 

Great challenges can inspire Good Design:

The genius of the Megiddo city gate plan, is found in its ability to completely transform the single gate system of its day into a multifaceted solution. They discovered ways to enhance and improve upon the design, which also represent a critical aspect of design thinking. A prototype was created, and it allowed for further refinement and testing of the final structure. In addition, the new gate became an identifying feature of this city. It worked in concert with other vital civic functions of the city. All in all, it represented both a practical and judicious use of space, and how it embodied an ordered path that protected its people.. 

From a modern perspective, the design of the Megiddo city gate, depicts a fascinating account of what design thinking looks like even in this ancient city.  Solving major challenge’s of its day by thinking far along a path and looking to provide valuable and effective solutions. The case study delineates a way of how advancing viable solutions, can add substantial value, benefits and vital functions for human beings. It’s much more than a fancy facade or skin deep solutions. 

Modern Day Applications:

Today this design methodology can be applied to how we design our homes and places of work. Not as city gate mind you – however, we can utilize the principles of design thinking to realize solutions and seek to transcend the problems of our day. With a design mindset, much can be accomplished. The City gates of the ancient city of Megiddo depicts a real-life example of a city that used design and thinking. And it is an example that occurred almost 3000 years ago.    


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Simple, But Needed Planning Process

A Simple But Needed Planning Process:

Developing the architectural design for a home or most any project, requires a process that helps you navigate through a diverse array of decisions. This is especially true when having to coordinate among various stakeholders. This post will focus on a brief overview, to help navigate your project to completion. And establish a simple but needed process.

Design Work Requires A Plan:

Often, our initial ideas fall short, and it is not until they are refined and expanded upon that they become worth perusing. Learning to plan provides a way to work through many ideas and begin the process of setting the course of the project. It also will help to refine ideas over time and perhaps reveal challenges that need resolution. Discovering challenges early on can be a way to save time and money. A great way to begin this planning process is to develop the building program and functional requirements of your project. Working through your program, will establish the preliminaries of your vision. Unfortunately, many homes by-pass this planning stage and are mass produced, with a one size fits all philosophy. This does nothing to improve upon our building infrastructure.  

Only after a good understanding of the building program and client expectations, can the design professional begin the next process of exploring ideas, and solutions. But it’s all contingent upon a specific program, which BTW should include the site, and budget requirements. The process leads to clarity and adds value to the project by way of thoughtful development. This planning process provides the initial steps of developing and organizing your building objectives and goals.  Through this planning process, the project can begin to start a dialogue of whats important, and were do we want to take this project? This initial process alone, can far and above exceed a design professionals fee! (even before the designing begins)

Although hiring an architect for your residential project may not be for everyone. It can be quite beneficial on many levels , both from the perspective of how to align your budget with the overall aesthetics. They can also prove to be a valuable part of the team during the construction phase. The architect’s experience with working through various solutions beyond just the standard building approach, lends itself to help clients achieve greater efficiencies through design that might not otherwise be possible. This provides the client with a site specific solutions that are infinity more valuable than an arbitrary process of building from a stock plan. 

A Case Study Example:

By way of a simple example, If the architect can design a residential plan operate more efficiently, even by 100sf, that can represent a major cost savings, In the case were a  building cost is $250/sf, that can be a $25,000 savings! (using a very conservative building cost value.) This is a tiny example, however it provides a clear advantage in designing a home. In addition, aligning the extensive array of various functions with the design, provides solutions that are harmonious and well thought out.  It is not unusual  for those projects that have had an architect involved in the design process; typically can add approximately 10-15% or greater value over comparable homes utilizing an off the shelf variety.  The potential to serve a homeowner through a formal design process provides many advantages. Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us.”  

When a schematic plan is developed, it establishes a process in which you are able to order your goals and objective. As ideas are developed, and greater levels of information can be established this can serve as a preliminary cost estimation tool. A building contractor can review these documents and provide preliminary cost estimates, based on specific square footage and design parameters. It’s a great way to gauge your budget and the cost implications at an early stage. This can also facilitate effective revisions long before the project is built.  

Another aspect or benefit of using a design process, establishes a framework to evaluate all the applicable building codes. This is about mitigating risk, and establishing a clear path before the construction process starts. In short, this is not only about the design, it is about creating value through planning, mitigating risk, and seeking to improve upon how you live.

Utilizing an Architect to Include the Art With the Science:

Like soo many things in life, it helps to have a plan. Having a design process can greatly help in clarifying and attaining your goals. It is also interesting how setting out on a journey to create something, can lead to discovery and improvement. There is something quite unique about the process of planning, establishing goals, creating a vision can provide added meaning to life, and in turn help to create substantial value. As an architect, I have discovered that having a design process in place helps to organize lots of information so as to prioritize the effort. In short, with no guide, chaos can quickly ensue and undermine any building project. The process that leads to bringing ideas and concepts together in a meaningful way, can also help make the dreams a reality. It’s vital that the client has an advocate and guide to balance the art with the science of building. 

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