Mind Mapping in Architecture


For Architectural Design Firm

mind mapping

  1. Challenge

I am heading the Design Studio of our Architectural Design firm in India and we deal in variety of projects like Industrial, Institutional and Commercial. We generally start the design concept development by listing all the design ideas. The challenge here is that many times it becomes difficult to comprehend on the exhaustive list of ideas for a given project. For instance, if we are developing concept for a commercial project then the team would share various ideas like green building, modern architectural language, maximizing the floor area ratio etc which might or might not have any connection with each other. And many times we are not able to fully utilize this exhaustive exercise.

  1. Selection

Since architectural designing is not about linear processing of ideas we had to choose a tool which can capture a web of ideas – and that’s where Mind Mapping comes in handy.

  1. Application

We started our meeting with interactive brainstorming session with our design staff for design concept development of the new project. Since we wanted the discussions to be open therefore we welcomed everyone’s ideas. However we did something different this time, we started grouping these ideas with respect to common elements – for example rain water harvesting on the site and use of high performance glass in building façade (to reduce electricity consumption) were both mentioned in a branch called ‘green building concepts’. By doing this our exhaustive list of approximately 35-40 points was categorized under 6 sub-heads.

  1. Insight

We realized that the free visual manner in which our ideas were being branching out from our objective was actually helping us see the factors which are extremely important as Design Concept and the factors which are probably not so critical at this stage! This made it easier for us to define our primary design decisions – for example building orientation with respect to Sun’s movement. Moreover, it is a fantastic tool for a group brainstorming and facilitates creativity. And the biggest advantage of this exercise was that after our internal discussion on Mind Mapping we were able to share this very diagram with our clients and they were more than happy to see this design process in a visual manner!

  1. Approach

What started out as an experiment is now becoming a fundamental part of our Design Process. It is a collective exercise which invokes creativity. We have now decided to do Mind Mapping at every critical phase of a project life cycle. Moreover, we have decided that we shall try to involve our clients during the next Mind Mapping session of their project – so that it becomes a more collaborative exercise and client’s visions and intents are inherently incorporated at the fundamental stage of design!

Note: This article was part of my submission for ‘Design Thinking for Innovation‘ course offered by University of Virginia

Further Reading: 

How to Use Mind Maps to Unleash Your Brain’s Creativity and Potential

Mind mapping is one of the best ways to capture your thoughts and bring them to life in visual form. Beyond just note-taking, though, mind maps can help you become more creative, remember more, and solve problems more effectively. Whether you're new to mind maps or just want a refresher, here's all you need to know about this technique.


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