Divergent Toolkit film

Abstract (submitted AHRC Research in Film Awards 2017)

This film was created as an accessible way to share innovative new design research with a diverse audience. It documents the development of a toolkit to enhance creativity within the early stages of the architectural design process. The toolkit responds to an emerging situation in professional practice, in which the design process has become increasingly trapped in the world of the digital. This is identified as a problem since the development of creative ideas is understood to be best supported by maintaining the balance between divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking refers to the act of expanding the boundary of our design situation and exploring multiple solutions whilst convergent thinking refers to the act of reducing the boundary until only one solution remains. Analogue media such as sketching or physical model making is associated with divergent processes and serendipitous moments of creativity whilst digital media such as computer drafting is associated with convergent thinking and design refinement.

The version of the toolkit explored in the film takes the form of a deck of cards containing prompts designed specifically for architects. The prompts remind architects to look at their design from a different perspective and challenges them to switch processes and explore design problems through different media.

The research developed through an iterative process of testing and refining, in which architects, architectural students and other designers were asked to make short films of their experience using the cards, before coming together to discuss their findings. These films are an original and highly appropriate way to explore and understand the intricacies of the architectural design process.

The key findings identify that divergent intervention between digital and analogue media through the toolkit can trigger serendipitous moments and generate new material which unlocks hitherto inaccessible ways of seeing design problems and enhances design creativity.

Design Leap! a divergent toolkit for architects from Matthew Hynam on Vimeo.