Colloseum   Structures

Design Process

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  1. Understanding the Problem and Writing the Design Brief are the first stage in the Design Process.

    • identifying the purpose of a construction
    • identifying specific requirements

    You are confronted with a situation. Here is an example:

    • On reaching old age, some people find it very difficult, and often frightening, to climb up and down stairs. The solution might be to live downstairs, to move to a new house, or maybe to go into a senior citizen's lodge. Ms. Clifford did not want to do any of these things. She wanted to continue to live as she always had.

    You need to analyze the situation before you attempt to solve the problem because you need to be able to understand exactly what the problem is.

    Once the problem is fully understood, you need to write a design brief. This is a short statement which explains the problem that is to be solved. Here are some examples:

    • You have been asked to build a scale model of a play frame-activity centre to be placed on a playground site at the new community hall building. The structure should provide for a range of play activities and can include moving structures such as swings providing they do not endanger other users.
    • We would like to build an outdoor stage and canopy so we can hold drama and music productions outside. Design and construct a scale model of a suitable design. The design should be made from lightweight sections which can be erected, dismantled, stored and transported easily.
    • An additional car park is to be provided for a new store. The car park will be situated across a busy road from the store and will need an access bridge. The store is situated on raised ground 4 meters above the car park. Design and build a scale model of a footbridge suitable for pedestrians, strollers, wheelchairs and shopping carts.
    • The suspension bridge which crosses the Bow River at the zoo is getting old. A new one is needed. Design and build a scale model of a new suspension bridge which is suitable for pedestrians.
  2. Carrying Out the Research and Developing a Plan are the second steps in the Design Process
    • conducting research
    • identifying specific details of the design which must be satisfied
    • identifying possible and alternative design solutions to building a load-bearing structure
    • planning and designing a load-bearing structure including preparing working drawings

    Having written a brief, you are now ready to get information which will help you to produce a successful design. First you will need to decide what information you require. This will be different from project to project and will also depend on the amount of knowledge you already have. A useful step will be to use the following chart. Ask the five questions, then read the column headed Areas of Research. This will help you plan the type of research you will need to conduct.

       Areas of Research
    1. What is the practical function of the design? (What must it do?) A design's practical functions can include:
    • structural support, protection, containment
    • mechanical movement and control
    • electrical operations and control

    2. What part does appearance (shape and form, surface texture, colour, etc.) play in the design's function? Shape and form are important to a design's
    • aesthetic qualities, ergonomics,
    • strength, stability, rigidity, safety

    Surface texture, finish and colour can be appropriate to a design's:

    • aesthetic qualities, mechanical, optical and thermal properties, durability, etc.

    3. What materials are suitable for the design? The properties of a material will determine its suitability for a design. These will include the physical properties of:
    • strength, hardness, toughness, density
    • durability

    and the aesthetic qualities determined by colour, surface texture, pattern, etc.

    The materials cost and availability are also important factors.

    4. What construction methods are appropriate to the design? Construction techniques fall into the categories of:
    • cutting and shaping
    • fabrication - the assembly of the parts using screws, bolts, glues, solder, etc
    • moulding - by the application of a force on the material
    • casting - using a mould to form the shape of a solidifying material

    A particular material can only be worked in a limited number of ways. The method of construction therefore will be determined by the chosen material, the availability of manufacturing facilities, the skills of the work force and the production costs.

    5. What are the likely social and environmental effects of the design? The manufacture, use and disposal of any product will have both beneficial and detrimental effects upon people, wildlife and the environment. The designer therefore, has an enormous responsibility to consider very carefully the potential effects of any new design. This will include:
    • health and safety factors, noise, smell, pollution, etc.

    Research can involve reading, listening, conducting interviews and observing.

    A specification is a detailed description of the problem to be solved. It should 'spell out' exactly what the design must achieve.

    You should ideally think of at least three different ways to solve the problem before you concentrate on any one in particular. Sketches and notes are required at this stage. Once you have settled on one solution, go back over the list of specifications you have made. Make sure that each specification is satisfied.

    Now it the time to produce some working drawings. These are the drawings that will assist you as you begin constructing the prototype of your structure. You may choose to do your drawings by hand or you might want to use a draw program on the computer to assist you.

    Before you begin the work determine a working schedule for yourself. You will have four weeks to complete this project. Draw up a timetable showing how much time you expect to spend on each part of the design. Your planning should also ensure that you have all the necessary materials and equipment that you need to complete your project. Make a list of everything and book a time to meet with us to go over your project to this point.

  3. Carrying Out the Plan
    • testing the design by constructing a load-bearing prototype
    • troubleshooting the design: identifying and correcting weaknesses in the structure

    Construction work can now begin. This work will involve a lot of detailed, skillful work. You will need to take measurements and perform calculations. It is important during this phase to:

    • always wear protective goggles when appropriate
    • to observe the safety regulations that we establish

  4. Evaluating
    • evaluating the design
    • evaluating the planning process

As construction work progresses, and the design begins to take shape, you will automatically carry out tests on the design. You will also need to complete systems tests at various stages of the construction. If any of the tests show that you have failure in a joint, or that part of your structure is not meeting specifications, then you will have to make modifications in your plan.

When construction work is complete, the entire project must be tested to see if it does the job for which it was designed. An evaluation needs to then be written. This should be a statement outlining the strengths and weaknesses in your design. It should describe where you have succeeded and where you have failed to achieve the aims set out in the specifications.

Here is a list of questions which will help you to prepare this statement.

  • How well does the design function?
  • Does the design look good?
  • Is the product safe to use?
  • Did I plan my work adequately?
  • Did I find the construction straightforward or difficult?
  • Were the most suitable materials used?
  • Did it cost more or less than expected?
  • How could I have improved my design?

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Notes and Assignments
Project Requirements

Project Overview |  Design Process |  Design Report |  Design Portfolio

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