4 | Module Four | Arch 8561-2022 TP


Transformative Thinking – Deep Systems
Project Discovery |
Your Project’s Story, Perspectives + Site

Google Earth aerial image of your project site looking due north.  The site is located near Chicago and 35th Street north of George Floyd Square

Introduction to this Weeks Workshop | Purpose + Description

Welcome to Workshop Module 4: Transformative Thinking: Deep Systems and Basic Site Discovery | Your Project’s Living Story + Perspectives straddles Theory and Systems. We’ll take a deep dive into Systems Thinking, and while that Theory is fresh in you mind, we’ll step directly into the world of practice by exploring the project site around a host of topics. Systems thinking is best understood through experiential learning – systems theory will only take you so far. The Class project will act as the vessel for directly exploring systems thinking and bringing the theory into your practice. 

For this exercise, each project Team will explore mobility, site basics, zoning and case studies for their particular project (see this weeks out-of-class Project Exercise for details – below). There will be overlaps in information and website tools for the various project sites (topics like transit, zoning, climate, case studies, etc.). You can also use Zoom to collaborate. Each Team, working on a particular topics is ultimately responsible for the quality of information for they develop and provide for to the class as a whole.

Workshop Activities: Reflections + Exercises


[tr][th]Step[/th] [th]Action[/th][th]Activity[/th] [th]Note                                                                                                        .[/th][/tr]

[tr][th][/th] [th][/th][th]PRACTICE TEMPLATE REFLECTION[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  A[/td] [td]REVIEW [/td] [td]Videos, Readings, Slide Shows Below ↓[/td][td][/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  B[/td] [td]WRITE[/td] [td][btnsx id=”19989″] [/td][td]A description of how to write your Theory + Practice Reflection is here[/td][/tr]

[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]PROJECT EXERCISE[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  C[/td] [td]COMPLETE[/td][td][btnsx id=”19545″][/td] [td]Exercise: Site Discovery, Case Studies, DNA[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  D[/td] [td]UPLOAD[/td] [td][btnsx id=”19993″][/td][td]File Name: Module##_First/Last Name_Exercise Name[/td][/tr]

[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]CLASS RESOURCES[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19943″][/td][td]Instructor Special Uploads[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19818″][/td][td]Miro Reflection Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19819″][/td][td]Miro Project Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19861″][/td][td]Miro Instructor Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19352″][/td][td]Thurs 2:30-5:30 PM CST | ID: 950 4480 4169 | Pwd: 5nkFYc [/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19848″][/td][td]Takes you to the Student Share Google Drive Folders[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td]All ‘Out-of-Class’ Activities (Theory Reflections and Project Exercises) are due by 12:00 Noon Thursday, on the Day of the Module Class [/td][td][/td][/tr]


Video + Readings
About 2 Hours Total | 1/2 Hours of Video + Reading / About 1.5 Hours for Contemplation + Writing


Emergent Living Systems 

Mindwalk: A Film for Passionate Thinkers

The video clips on this page are time managed to focus on core messages that support these workshops.  Start the video from the page at the smaller scale, you can expand each one using the [ ] icon in the lower corner once the video starts. You can go to Youtube if you would like to see the entire clip and / or if you’d like to see more clips.


Part I | La Machine (Reductivism)

The roots of modernity and the scientific-industrial revolution are outlined in this clip | Starts at 3:48 – About 6:13 Minutes

Part II | Systems (Living Systems)

This clip gets to the essence of Living Design (Resilience, Regeneration, Restoration, Sustainability + Health) along with the answer to “What is Life.” | Starts at 2:32 – About 12:38 Minutes

Part III | Emergence (The Product of Relationships)

This clip discusses physics, but it’s real purpose is the deeper dialogue about emergence. Emergence is a product + property of living systems (biological systems, social systems, economic systems, etc.) and the the result of interactive connections and relationships. The products + properties of emergence ‘die’ if the relationships are severed (and they may not be tangible, so there may be no indication they ever existed if the system dies). Transformative and living forms of Resilience, Regeneration, Restoration, Sustainability and Health are all emergent properties created by interactive relationships, much like melodies and chords are created by notes, time and pitch (music and physics are used as the metaphor to describe emergence in this clip). The goal of resilient design is to create the opportunity for adapative properties to emerge through your design and / or though your design nested into another resilient system. | Starts at 6:10 – About 3:30 Minutes


Templates are distillation of information that present their information as a clear, actionable and bounded definition, structure or pattern for use in design, solutioning and problem solving.

Template: The Living Design Process – Applied Systems Thinking: Reductivism, Designers + Systems.

The Big Idea:
Reductive Thinking: Elements:
Ideas, Checklist Line-items, Patterns, Goals, Design Drivers, Program, Wants, Needs, etc.
Systems Thinking + Designers:
The Project Designer(s) use an Integrative Approach to identify and bring project elements together into a context specific design intervention.
The Design 

A new way of thinking about the world has been emerging over the past 30 years and it’s having a profound impact on our collective approach to design.

Systems thinking, and more recently living systems thinking are on their way to balancing the powerful, but limited perspective of reductive + mechanistic thinking that has guided human creativity and activity for almost 400 years. We think of this balanced world view, in which four forms of thinking: systems (living), reductive (mechanistic) and integrative are combined as the “living design approach.” Pattern thinking (here, here, here + here) is  the essential fourth form of thinking. It provides the perspective, vehicle and method that underlies, integrates + structures the approach to combining (and utilizing) the first three forms of thinking.

The most powerful aspect of the living design approach is its capacity to simultaneously provide vision + method to human creativity, because pattern can integratively carry both.

The process of  Living Design is an emergent and iterative approach inspired by ecology, engineering, science, the humanities and the fine arts. Living design is emerging through the pioneering efforts of restorative, resilient + regenerative thinkers who are creating a new story for the world. The ideas  imprinted  by  Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language), Fritjof Capra (The Web of Life) and Lewis Mumford (Technics and Civilization) are central to its expression.

Authentically engaging with the complexity present in a living world is inspiring and evocative. Living thinking challenges everyone’s design and problem solving skills and in many ways, it requires new perspectives on how we interpret the world around us. Living design requires inventive ways of organizing our thoughts and generating order. We’d like to share our perspective on living order as it may be a helpful mental tool for those exploring living design.

Applied Systems Example

Video: Introduction to Whole Systems Design – Dawn Danby Autodesk | 6:14 Minutes
This video maps out the basics of Systems Thinking. While it’s focused on a dryer, the concepts apply to anything, at any scale. Whether it’s machine, a building a neighborhood or a city.


Template: The Power of Checklists (Reductive Thinking)

Video: The Importance & Value of the Checklist – Atul Gawande | 5:59 Minutes
Atul Gawande speaks about how a simple check list reduced complication rates in surgery by 35%, death rates by 47% and saved the health industry hundreds of millions of dollars. Gawande argues that checklists should not be treated like a recipe. But they should be used to help you organize your system, keep your team on track and assist you in not missing important issues.

At a minimum, checklists are great reminders of the individual actions you can take on our projects to improve their performance. At their best, they (along with patterns and guidelines) become part of the knowledge that intuitively feeds your creativity, making you a smarter, more informed and passionate solutionist.

Template: The Power of Pattern (Systems Thinking)

Reading Download: Excerpts from The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander | 7-8 Equivalent Pages of Reading

Patterns in Architecture, Planning and Design can (but they do not always) represent systems and sub-systems comprised of multiple components and elements that are organized into purposeful relationships. Patterns may be new and existing prototypes.

Christopher Alexander’s three books, Notes on the Synthesis of Form (1964), A Pattern Language (1977) and The Timeless Way of Building (1979) layout the essential theory for applied systems thinking, not only in architecture, but as a way designing almost anything with rich, full-bodied complexity.  As you read the excerpts from A Timeless Way of Building, you may also notice that Alexander is speaking  a similar language as Michelle Holiday (see the quotes above). Alexander not only interpreted basic systems thinking for the creative world in the 60’s and 70’s, he also started interpreting living systems thinking as well describing how “living patterns” work.

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