Expansive design: designing with contradictions

Frederick Marinus Constant van Amstel

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This thesis looks at the practice of design as it emerges in architectural design and service design. The lens adopted considers design both as an activity as well as a space full of contradictions, which are accumulated tensions. Design activity is a professional occupation that interacts with other activities, whereas design space is a range of possibilities considered for a project. The contradictions in both sides are separately identified and then rejoined to follow the transitions from one side to another. When pursuing this dialectic, this research has found two ways in which design reproduces contradictions in society. The first, reductive design, aims to reduce contradictions by partitioning the design space into small manageable parts. The second, expansive design, aims to expand contradictions by increasing awareness for the possibilities in the design space. The former ignores, hides, or removes contradictions from the design space and the later uncovers, highlights, or takes advantage of contradictions in the design space. The combination of reductive design and expansive design leads to uneven development. This understanding of design comes from three short-term empirical studies of architectural design and service design projects, which were complemented with two experiments undertaken with design students. The empirical studies show evidence that expansive design may emerge from playing design games; however, this also depends on the willingness of participants to deal with contradictions in an inclusive way. The main contribution of this thesis is highlighting and developing further the concept of expansive design, which implies dealing with contradictions in an inclusive way.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Dewulf, Geert, Supervisor
  • van der Voort, Mascha C., Supervisor
  • Hartmann, Timo, Supervisor
Award date3 Dec 2015
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-94-6233-184-6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2015


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