Volume 1 · Number 3 · Pages 103–110
Construction and Design

Ranulph Glanville

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Purpose: The purpose of the author in writing this paper is to establish the connection between design and constructivism. To that end, it is argued that design is a necessarily constructivist activity (both in terms of the design of concepts and the design of objects and processes); and that design preceded constructivism by many millennia. Method: This argument is made through reference to concepts and developments in second order cybernetics, and an analysis of central activities that designers perform – particularly sketching and doodling, used in the manner of holding a conversation with oneself. Findings: The parallelism between design and constructivism (and second order cybernetics) is demonstrated; and a distinction between knowledge of (a situation) and knowledge for (an action) is drawn. Knowledge for is the knowledge that supports action, including the action of constructing. Original value: Design is placed at the heart of constructivist activity, validated by criteria that that are sympathetic to designing. Thus, constructivist activity is reinforced by the analysis of design activity; and design activity is reciprocally reinforced by the analysis of constructivist activity.

Key words: black Box, circularity, conversation, design, doodle and sketch, knowledge of, knowledge for, object


Glanville R. (2006) Construction and design. Constructivist Foundations 1(3): 103–110. http://constructivist.info/1/3/103

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