eLanguages.ac.ukUniversity of Southampton

Approaches to style in architecture and design

A close-up of a Cadillac fin showing the design style

Design style

Style is an important concept in architecture and design, as it can help in the creation and identification of a number of different (but related) objects. Having an understanding of underlying elements of style and the rules and structures (grammars) that can govern these is important for designers.

In these activities you will explore various ways in which groups of designs can be considered as a style. You will also listen to and make notes from a short explanation in English about design grammars.

Activity 1: Defining style for design purposes

Design 'style' can be defined in many different ways. One dictionary definition of design style is: 'a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character'. In this activity you are going to examine some of the ways (i.e. similarities) in which a set of designs could be considered to represent a style.



Examine each set of images, and select the term from the drop down list which best describes what makes each set of objects in the group, a style. Then read the feedback.

Approach 1aApproach 1bApproach 1c

Approach 2aApproach 2b

Approach 3aApproach 3b

Approach 4aApproach 4b

Approach 5aApproach 5bApproach 5c

Activity 2: Understanding the grammar of design

In this activity you are going to listen to Professor Scott Chase of the University of Aalborg, Denmark. Professor Chase is an expert in digital design and he explains the concept of 'design grammars'. You will also practise your note-taking skills.



Listen to Professor Chase explaining design grammars. As you listen make notes on what he says and use your notes to answer the questions which follow. Then read the feedback.

1. According to Professor Chase, what is a design grammar?

2. What form can the 'rules' for design take?

3. What particular benefit derives from having a design grammar?

4. In what sense can we understand 'style' from Professor Chase's explanation?

5.What example does Professor Chase give of how design grammar can be a powerful tool for architects?

You may wish to open and and refer to an English transcript of Professor Chase's explanation:
Design grammars transcript (pdf, 52KB). You may wish to print this document.


Wikipedia (2012) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rococo

© Archi21 Project Consortium: Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais, Open University, University of Ljubljana, Aalborg Universitet, University of Southampton and eLanguages, Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Southampton, 2012. All rights reserved. All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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