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Syntegrity for Designing Designing -152


Ana Paula Baltazar and Jose dos Santos Cabral Filho

This paper presents a cybernetic structure adopted in an architecture design course making two interrelated shifts in the usual approach to architectural education and practice. One is the shift from teaching to learning, a shift from teaching design by framing and solving problems, to what John Chris Jones names ‘designing designing’. The other shift regards the overcoming of usual participatory processes that by over-relying on the professional’s culture, end up patronizing socio-spatial groups, and point towards building a conversational design approach. The shift from teaching to learning draws on Seymour Papert’s mathetics, which leads to peer-to-peer learning focused on the students’ responsibility. Drawing on Vilém Flusser, the idea of responsibility extends from the learning process to the design practice, focusing more on its intersubjective and dialogical aspects than on the object itself.

To reinforce this approach, we bring ideas from Cedric Price, such as value-free and enabling, that point toward open design. From the teachers’ point of view, the challenge is to build a structure that does not impose these ideas but brings them to be discussed by the students who build their own collective critical understanding. In order to enable such a structure, we have been experimenting with the dialogical strategy of Team Syntegrity proposed by Stafford Beer to go beyond dispute. Different from Beer’s original protocol, which is directed to help decision-making, we have experimented with the syntegrity model in different contexts with a diversity of purposes. One of the essential features of Team Syntegrity that is crucial to our experience is the different roles the students play in each round (advocate, critic, observer).

In this paper, we discuss a complex experiment of adapting Team Syntegrity in a design course, joining students and a social-spatial group based in a Brazilian mining district, which expands the conversational approach to put students and socio-spatial groups in dialogue. This course was proposed to collaborate with the local Theatre Group to deal with the renovation of their headquarters without resorting to framing and solving problems within a narrow imaginary based on a limited known repertoire. Instead, the collective construction has not only enabled both students and the community to get acquainted with the designing designing strategy but also has enabled the Theatre Group to envisage the renovation of their headquarters as a broader and more complex question concerning the whole neighbourhood beyond the mere design of a building.

Keywords: syntegrity, open design, responsible design, value-free architecture, architectural education, emancipation

Pre-proceedings drafts are available for RSD11 participants to review. The corresponding paper number is at the end of the title. The papers have been peer-reviewed, and the authors have made revisions. Following RSD11, authors will have a final period to revise their work from the feedback received at RSD before the proceedings are formally published.

Posted September 2022 content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium.