The Aristotelian Proto-Theory of Design

  • Lauri Koskela
  • Ricardo Codinhoto
  • Patricia Tzortzopoulos
  • Mike Kagioglou


In comparing deliberation to the analysis of a geometrical figure, Aristotle made a highly significant theoretical statement on design, which has largely gone unnoticed. Through an interpretation of the accounts given by Aristotle and the Greek geometer Pappus, seven features of the method of analysis can be identified, concerning the types of analysis, its stages, its start and end points, the types of reasoning involved, the relation of the two directions of reasoning, the strategy of reasoning and the targeted outcomes. This proto-theory is compared to the current theoretical landscape of design; also it is applied to clarify a current approach to conceptual design. Based on all this, the proto-theory as a theory of design is evaluated. It is concluded that the proto-theory fulfils several of the functions of a theory in a superior and fertile way. Thus, this proto-theory is not only of historical interest, but also provides a contribution to the theoretical knowledge on design.


Design Theorise Geometric Analysis Geometrical Figure Quality Function Deployment Geometrical Construction 
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.



Discussions with Dr. Ehud Kroll have been useful for clarifying the design interpretation of the features of the method of analysis. The helpful comments by two anonymous reviewers are also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauri Koskela
    • 1
  • Ricardo Codinhoto
    • 2
  • Patricia Tzortzopoulos
    • 2
  • Mike Kagioglou
    • 3
  1. 1.School of the Built EnvironmentUniversity of SalfordSalford M5 4WTUK
  2. 2.University of SalfordSalfordUK
  3. 3.University of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUK

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