Design cybernetics in support of cross-disciplinary collaboration: educating the next generation of Chinese architects and structural engineers

Christiane M. Herr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper offers design cybernetics as a theoretical common ground to bridge diverging approaches to design as they frequently occur in collaborative design projects. Focusing on the education of architects and structural engineers in China, the paper examines how compatible approaches to design can be established in both disciplines. Design/methodology/approach: The paper analyses relevant literature as well as observations from Chinese practice and academia. Design cybernetics is introduced and examined as a basis for establishing shared narratives to support cross-disciplinary collaborations involving architects and structural engineers. Findings: Design cybernetics offers a body of vocabulary and a rich resource of strategies to address applied designing across design-oriented disciplines such as architecture and science-based disciplines such as structural engineering. The meta perspective of design cybernetics also provides a basis for the implementation of pedagogy supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration in applied design. Research limitations/implications: The scope of the paper is limited to the examination of the theoretical framing as well as the implementation of pedagogy in the cultural and geographical context of China. Practical implications: The paper outlines several design cybernetic strategies for pedagogy in support of cross-disciplinary collaborative design processes and illustrates their implementation in applied design education. Originality/value: Addressing a significant and persistent gap between the two disciplines of architecture and structural engineering in the context of Chinese building practice, this paper examines the particularities of this context and presents an educational approach to support cross-disciplinary collaboration that has value in and beyond the context of China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2109-2124
Number of pages16
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


  • Architectural design
  • Cross-disciplinary collaboration
  • Design cybernetics
  • Design process
  • Disciplinary narratives
  • Education


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