A pragmatist theory of design : The impact of the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey on architecture and design

by Östman, Leif E.

Abstract (Summary)
This study is an inquiry into design-theoretical aspects of architectural design in Finland based mainly on the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey. The study comprises two case studies. The . rst case deals with a young family designing their future home – a detached house built from prefabricated components – in cooperation with an architect. The second case deals with the design process of a leading Finnish architect, Professor Ilmari Lahdelma, as he prepares his proposal for an architectural competition for a new city library in Lohja, a competition he eventually wins. The case describes and interprets Lahdelma’s design process, the processes of other competition entries made by the of. ce staff, as well as the process of the jury’s evaluation of the competition entries. The two cases are analysed and interwoven with aspects from three different theoretical perspectives: existing design theories, Pierre Bourdieu’s . eld theory and John Dewey’s thinking regarding art and research. In the study I argue that Dewey’s philosophy can provide a framework for a design-theoretical epistemology. I also arrive at conclusions regarding the interpretation of some key design-theoretical concepts and the position of design theory and its structures. I further argue that the Finnish architectural competition system is a strong tool for generating developments in the production of the architectural avant-garde, which acts as the leading light for the rest of the . eld of architecture. The present study also highlights the gap between ‘high-’ and ‘low culture’ in the . eld of architecture, yet points out that the design of a simple family house – assumedly a case of ‘low culture’ – is by no means trivial to the family itself, and is indeed . lled with moments of aesthetic experiences, which is a central issue in Dewey’s description of creative processes.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; History and philosophy subjects; Historical cultures; Classical archaeology and ancient history; Classical archaeology and ancient history; design; design theory; design knowledge; avant-garde; pragmatist philosophy; Antikens kultur och samhällsliv


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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