Diagrammatic Reasoning in Interdisciplinary Communication

R. Fruchter, H. Krawinkler and Y. Iwasaki

Diagrams play an important role in the reasoning process of design team members and the communication of goals and concepts across disciplines. Our research interest is aimed at exploring the use and power of visual reasoning in the interdisciplinary communication context of conceptual design of a building. More specifically we will attempt to bridge the gap between two members of the design team, the structural engineer and the architect, by developing the necessary tools to support interdisciplinary communication. As the design of a building evolves, each of the design team members creates and transmits the alternative solutions in terms of the conventional representations of his/her field. In doing so, she/he often disregards the fact that for a person from a different field some of the information is hard to understand or irrelevant, even though decisions made based on such transmitted information in the conceptual design phase strongly influence the later design process. Resulting miscommunication is likely to affect the quality of the final building. We believe that the use of diagrams is an important means to address the communication problem. Furthermore, we conjecture that a capability to reason with diagrams will help to convey the design intent in a specific domain to professionals from other domains. The goal of our project is to develop a model for interdisciplinary communication of conceptual design information.

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