The design of modern buildings has become an increasingly complex activity. This is
because of greater demands by Clients in terms of performance, quality, economy and
time. These demands coupled with the complex iterative nature of design have
resulted in increasing challenges in building design and in the management of the
The design process is information driven. Initial research by the writer showed that
the main difficulties encountered during the management of the design process are
information related. Information transfer and communication issues have been
identified as key factors in the successful management of the process. It was
concluded that current planning techniques are ill-suited for planning, monitoring and
controlling building design because they neither accommodate the iterative nature of
design nor permit the choice of alternatives. This research sought to develop better
tools to aid design managers in improving the management of the process. Although
all phases of the design process were examined, the main focus of this research was
the Conceptual and Schematic design stages.
To investigate these stages a generic data flow model was developed using the
structured analysis diagramming technique of Data Flow Diagrams. The model was
based on data from preliminary case studies and was validated by interviews with
construction industry professionals.
Industry feedback showed that improved management of the design process should
not only include better techniques for planning and scheduling but also allow design
managers to investigate the iterations between design tasks and predict the effects of
different scenarios. Matrix partitioning techniques were used to identify ioops of
iterative design tasks in the data flow model. A Discrete Event Simulation Model was
developed to predict the effects of different scenarios. This model was based on data
from the Data Flow Model and the identified iterative design loops. In addition,
dynamic factors input by the user such as the durations and resources of the design
tasks allowed the examination of the effects of different scenarios of information
related criteria. These criteria were identified from industry survey and interviews.
The simulation model was rigorously tested and validated through subsequent case
studies and review by industry practitioners. The thesis concludes that the use of Data Flow Modelling in conjunction with Matrix
Analysis and Discrete Event Simulation techniques provides a powerful tool for
assessing the impact of change within the design process and could form the basis for
managing and planning multi-disciplinary design work.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.