Understanding Cognitive Activities in Parametric Design

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Abstract

Parametric design offers a new paradigm in the field of Computer-Aided Design; a paradigm focused on the potential for producing design variations. However, despite this potential, the cognitive activities associated with parametric design are not well understood. The authors of this paper present a formal method for capturing cognitive activities via protocol analysis. To support the interpretation of this method, this paper evaluates creativity implicit in design products by way of a consensual assessment technique. The findings identify two cognitive activities (‘making generation’ and ‘changing existing parameters’) as potential critical to divergent thinking and the restructuring of design components. These activities facilitate the generative aspects of parametric design. The paper concludes with a discussion of three cognitive levels (physical, perceptual and conceptual) that support an understanding of cognitive activities in parametric design.