Generating and Constraining Variants in Parametric Design
Possible Adoptions and Extensions of Horst Rittel’s Design-Methodological Research in Computational Design

Integrative design methods for complex architectural projects need to be based on systematic and adaptable models in order to be able to act according to specific design intent and react to changing conditions during the design and planning phases. Changing conditions result from an argumentative process between the various stakeholders during the design phases and contextual information. Complex design processes are constructed through mechanisms for generating, constraining and selecting variants, encapsulated by computationally defining arguments, criteria, constraints, parameters and their variables. In this way there is a considerable and potentially instrumental overlap between contemporary computational parametric design processes and earlier research on design methodology, in particular the work of Horst Rittel. During the 1970s and 1980s Rittel, one of the most prominent figures in this field, conducted indepth research on the decision-making process of architectural design. This research project investigates the relation and possible ramifications for today’s developments of integrative parametric design processes between Rittel’s design methodology and contemporary computational design.


ICD Institute for Computational Design – Prof. Achim Menges

Scientific Development

Manuela Irlwek


Landesgraduiertenstipendium des Freistaates Bayern


Selected Publications

Irlwek, M., Menges, A.: 2014, Vergleich und Erweiterung von Horst Rittels Design Methodologie in Parametrischen Entwurfsprozessen, in Leopold, C. (ed.), Über Form und Struktur – Anforderungen an Geometrie, Springer Vieweg Wiesbaden. Forthcoming Publication

Irlwek, M., Menges, A.: 2014, Applications of Design Methods in Parametric Processes as Extensions of Horst Rittel´s Methodological Treatments of Wicked Problems, Wicked Problems in Socio-Ecological Systems Symposium Conference Proceedings, University of California Berkeley. Forthcoming Publication

Irlwek, M., Menges, A.: 2013, Terminological Comparison of parametric design processes and Horst Rittel´s design methodology, in Sovreski, Z. V., Mokryš, M., Badura, S. Lieskovský,A. (ed.), Global Virtual Workshop Conference Proceedings, EDIS – Publishing Institution of the University of Zilina, Slovak Republic, pp. 276-283. (ISBN 978-80-554-0679-4)

Irlwek, M. and Menges, A.: 2012, The extension of Rittel´s methodology in contemporary parametric design, International Journal of Design Sciences and Technology, Vol. 19 No 1, pp. 01-25. (ISSN 1630-7267)

Irlwek, M. and Menges, A.: 2011, Variant Generation and Convergence in Computational Design Processes based on Horst Rittel´s Design Methodology, in: Connecting Brains Shaping the World – Collaborative Design Spaces, EuropIA 13 Conference 2011, Sapienza Universitá di Roma (Italy), 08–10 June 2011, pp. 139-158. (ISBN: 979-1-090094-05-5)