Metaphors as an unconventional reflective approach in architectural design

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15 Scopus citations


Metaphors affect the way designers think, perceive, conceptualize and organize their knowledge. The vague character of metaphors allows for capturing the essence of a problem under different perspectives. In the design domain, this cognitive strategy can help to reflect on a problem situation and restructure it anew. This is particularly relevant in design problem-solving which by definition is ill-structured. Empirical research dealing with the use of metaphors as a supportive design tool was carried out. The investigation enabled an insight into the way metaphors helped students, and into the knowledge gained from the application of this tool in design problem-solving. Moreover, it was possible to identify what were the most frequent difficulties found during the process, and what could be the role of metaphorical thinking in future design tasks. Metaphors are proposed as an alternative reflective approach and as an educational tool for the development of design skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Architecture
  • Design methods
  • Design skills
  • Metaphorical reasoning
  • Problem-solving


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