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Research topic: Do design codes have a negative impact on innovation or design creativity

Bower, L; (2005) Research topic: Do design codes have a negative impact on innovation or design creativity. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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That design codes have been given political backing and are high on the political agenda cannot be contested. Design codes also have a long history however there is something about this latest resurgence of interest in design codes that gives the subject a new poignancy. The governmental focus is centred on speed of delivery and certainty of decision making but at what cost As design issues become the remit of Local Planning Authorities, developers and urban designers the traditional role of the professional designer is challenged and the boundaries become blurred. A resultant nervousness has been identified in the body of contemporary research that design codes have the potential to stifle innovation and design creativity as design becomes handed over to the care of design codes. This research seeks to investigate this directly and poses the question - do design codes have a negative impact on innovation or design creativity The research question is restricted to residential design codes in the U.K. The research is based around a case study of the Ashford Barracks design code. The methodology is threefold, firstly a critical content analysis was undertaken to identify those mechanisms contained within the code that may foster innovation or design creativity. The next stage was to conduct semi - structured interviews with design experts involved in different aspects of the Ashford Barracks design code process. This was undertaken following the content analysis to probe the issues arising. The final stage was to review three designs of the same housing type to assess whether any of the designs displayed evidence of innovation or design creativity. The findings were that there was a consistent result from the content analysis and the semi-structured interviews. It was found that there was potential for innovation contained within the code (in theory at least) and there was certainly no perception from any of the interviewees that design codes stifled innovation or design creativity. However, the review of the designs revealed no compelling evidence of innovation or creativity (as defined by the research terminology). This tension within the findings made drawing clear conclusions from the results problematic. Consequently it was deemed necessary to distinguish between a theoretical conclusion - that design codes have no negative impact on innovation or design creativity and a practical conclusion, that variation without surprise is the likely outcome of the Ashford Barracks design code (although innovation and design creativity are not precluded by it). In a broader sense this leads to the conclusion that standard house types and un-innovative designs cannot necessarily be resisted by design codes. Due to the complexity of the issues surrounding design codes many interesting issues beyond the scope of this research were raised during the course of the research and these have been cited as possible topics for further investigation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Research topic: Do design codes have a negative impact on innovation or design creativity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1570253
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