Architectural Programming, A Necessity for Design



Architectural programming, as a realm in the design process, is considered to be one of the most valuable assets of the design research. Through the use of architectural programming, a designer becomes familiar with different issues of the project and establishes his/her goals to produce an appropriate design solution. An ideal design solution requires a thorough understanding about the needs of the users, the environment, and the context of the project. An architectural programmer utilizes these data in a systematic order to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate design ideas. Although articles and discussions about architectural programming did not start formally until the latter part of the 1960’s, during the discussions about demolishing the Pruitt Igoe residential project, one could suggest that programming has always been part of the design process throughout the history of architecture. This article reviews different characteristics of programming and its benefits for the design process. Four major benefits of programming include: 1- earlier time to design, 2- more efficient use of sources, 3- diminishing mistakes, 4- the correct use of man and environmental forces. The article also introduces a case study conducted by 22 graduate students of architecture at the University of Tehran, using Donna Duerk’s programming model on a project: Revitalizing A City Block on Enghelab Street - between the Enghelab Square and the Vali-Asr Intersection - in Tehran. For their studies, students started with a research to identify the shortcomings of that street to respond to the physical as well as perceptual needs of the users. Different issues were examined and three categories were developed: 1- Circulation: looking at pedestrian as well as vehicular issues; 2- The built environment (investigating about the problems with building facades, land-use planning, and the lack of green spaces); 3- The natural environment (considering the macro as well as micro climatic issues). In order to use Duerk’s model, students were required to introduce a “mission”, set some “goals” to overcome the identified problems, and investigate about the “performance requirement” (PR) necessary to reach those goals, and produce some “concepts” to provide an architectural solution for each PR. In Duerk’s model, a “mission” defines the special purpose that a project must fulfill; a project “goal” relates only to the outcome desired for the project; a “performance requirement” is a statement about the measurable level of function that a designed object must provide for a goal to be met; and a “concept” is an idea about the appropriate relationship between parts of a project. Considering the growing number of issues facing an architectural problem today, programming could be used as a systematic tool to mange those issues and produce appropriate solutions. The author recommends that since the use of programming could enhance the quality of architectural design, schools of architecture, particularly in Iran, should include such programming courses in their undergraduate as well as graduate curriculums.