The Divergent Deck

The divergent deck is a set of cards containing short sentences designed to help architectural designers overcome creative blocks by offering them a prompt to try something different. Research so far has shown that the promotion of media switching within the design process can help designers see past a creative block and continue with their task. They have also been designed to carefully balance divergent and convergent thinking processes and as such provide the user with sentences that are carefully balanced between ambiguity and direction. The cards draw heavily upon Oblique Strategies which were developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and it is intended that their development will follow a similar process of iterating and testing. The start of this can be seen in some of the images on this page.

The deck is being used as part of the wider Design Leap research acting as an architectural probe to better understand the design process. Within the research the insertion of the deck into an architectural design process is filmed using visual ethnographic techniques. This is then watched back by an expert focus group containing creative designers who feedback on the deck and also the visual ethnographic method. Both the deck and method are gradually honed through iterative cycles until data saturation is apparent.

Divergent Deck 1 Please email me if you would like to test or be part of a focus group!

Switch to a more physical medium

Take a snapshot and pixelate it

Print, cut into strips and randomly rearrange

Reframe asymmetrically

Mirror the image using a physical medium

Fade and draw only the edges

Fade and draw only the edges 2

Introduce an object from a different medium

Zoom, change scale + or –

Speed model with paper for 30 minutes

Reframe your work and consider a new boundary

Trace over the screen scan and reinsert

Export a screenshot and blur the image

Export a screenshot and invert the image

Reverse the line weights and print out

Print, pin up and look at from distance

Parti diagram your current position

Storyboard 6 sequential images moving through the project, 3 minutes each

Add more detail to the context

Scan in a random object

Explode components draw as elements

Repeat the process in a different medium

Change the parameters

Model the inside as outside and outside as inside

Break up the rhythm by inserting something from a different plane

Print, cut up into component parts, rearrange at random and reinsert

Write a 3min narrative that describes a user experiencing the project (repeat 3x), cut up all and randomly rearrange into a new narrative

Consider a new section and sketch freehand with a fat pen

Move from orthographic to freehand perspective

Export multiple views, layer with 10% opacity, print, trace a new form and reinsert

Switch between mediums every 10 minutes for 1 hour e.g. sketch, CAD, physical model, diagram, orthographic, detail, digital model

Print out and erase the circulation

Insert a void with an object from another medium

Perform a scale test by inserting a repetitive element from another medium e.g. Google Earth

Hatch with colours from a painting you like

Hatch with colours from a painting you like 2

Think like an engineer express the structure in a diagram

Dissect elements and storyboard in perspective as a short film, reassemble

Consider spatial thresholds as filmic transitions e.g. cut, fade, dissolve

Look at the weakest part of the design and amplify it

Alter the parameters beyond the rationale

Attach a rogue element from a foreign medium outside of architecture

Remove the element you think works

Be messy, frantic & noisy e.g. Charcoal stick + DnB

Alter your rhythm switch to a faster medium

Slow down and work up an area in detail

Steal an idea from someone else’s project

Rotate the view to a non-orthographic projection, wireframe, print and trace

Look for primary shapes and express

Draw the shadow

Trace over screen and then rotate from an off centre spot. Layer and repeat trace until new forms emerge

Blast the brightness and contrast and work with what is left