The aim of this research was to investigate strategies for the support of design
exploration, in particular, how computer based technology could contribute to this
activity during the early phase of design. The research comprised of the design and
development of three software prototypes, the later versions of which enabled discussions
with design professionals concerning the underpinning approach of the work. Three case
studies of design practice were undertaken. These focused on the interdependencies
between freehand drawing, physical modelling and CAD. Based on the research it was
concluded that computer based support for exploration during the early phase of design
was viable and that the generation of alternative solutions played a key role in the
process. Furthermore, the approach offered by shape grammars provided a generative
mechanism that was both grounded in the discipline of design and amenable to
representation in a computer based system. Finally, it was concluded that the
introduction of a 'controlled irregularity' into the resulting design alternatives increased
their likelihood of encouraging design exploration.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.