Anchoring the design process: A framework to make the designerly way of thinking explicit in architectural design education

  • Elise van Dooren TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


This thesis proposes a framework to address the design process in design education. Building upon the assumption that teachers, being professional designers, do not discuss the design process in the architectural design studio and do not have a vocabulary to do so, five generic elements or anchor points are defined which represent the basic design skills. The validity of the framework and the assumption is tested respectively in interviews with a variety of designers and in observations of dialogues between teachers and students. In the final test the design process is addressed in the design studio: the first experiences show that students’ understanding and self-efficacy may increase. The five elements enable teachers and students to address the designerly attitude. The way designers reason consist of: (1) experimentation; an experimentation-based way of thinking; how to explore and reflect, (2) the frame of reference; a knowledge-based way of thinking; how to work with common and proven ‘professional’ knowledge, and (3) the guiding theme; a value-based way of thinking; how to take a position in the design process. Next to that, (4) the laboratory is the (visual) language or set of means designers use to think designerly, and (5) the domains are the playing field of the designer, the product aspects s/he should address.

Author Biography

Elise van Dooren, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

After obtaining a master’s degree in Architecture at the Technical University Delft, I worked for about ten years in practice, as freelancer and with a partner. Almost immediately after my studies I also started as a guest teacher at the faculty of Architecture in Delft. Since 2000, I am a staff member at the faculty, participating in a diversity of educational projects and roles, such as teacher, coordinator, chairman of the educational board and educational developer. Enjoying design education and being fascinated by the question how to teach, I started doing research in my free time. The result is this publication including the published journal papers. I develop courses for students and teachers about design didactics in which I am also involved as a teacher (TU Delft, Groningen, Tilburg, Technasium). Next to that I regularly do peer reviews (International Journal of Technology and Design Education)

How to Cite
VAN DOOREN, Elise. Anchoring the design process. A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment, [S.l.], n. 17, p. 176, oct. 2020. ISSN 2214-7233. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2020. doi: