Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 16, Issue 1–2, pp 17–26 | Cite as

John Gero’s Function-Behaviour-Structure model of designing: a critical analysis

  • Kees Dorst
  • Pieter E. Vermaas
Original Paper


Over the last 12 years, the design research group at the Key Centre for Computing at the University of Sydney has been developing an extensive model of designing, looking at designing as a process in which the concepts of function, behaviour and structure of artefacts play a central role. In this paper, we critically analyse this model of designing, focussing on its internal clarity and external empirical validation. We review the model and present the definitions of the key concepts function, behaviour and structure. In doing so we show that one can distinguish at least two different versions of the model. Finally, we raise fundamental questions about the precise location of the transition between structural and intentional descriptions of artefacts in these versions, and about the empirical status of the model as a whole.


Actual Behaviour Concept Function Structural Description Tham Formulation Step 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Larry Bucciarelli and Jeroen de Ridder for their participation in the discussions that led to this paper. Research by Pieter Vermaas was part of the program ‘The Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts’, which is supported by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) and research efforts by the Technè group.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial DesignEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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