This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding an architectural building by qualitatively discerning the complex issues involved in building design and systematically integrating them into a theoretical construct. The premise behind this framework is that, in design, a better understanding of what to design leads to a more informed understanding of how to design, resulting in a more structured and innovative architectural work. Using a grounded theory method, this paper postulates an ontological framework that recasts the Vitruvian triad of utilitas, venustas, and firmitas into spatial, intellectual, and structural form, respectively. More importantly, it expands this triad to include architectural thinking manifested as a formative concept as an integral component of any architectural work, and situates a design in its related context. Thus, this paper aims to close a gap in many architectural frameworks. The framework provided here offers a level of robust understanding of architecture that can become a foundation for a more effective and rational architectural design practice. This foundation can be used as a basis for structuring architectural forms, as well as describing and analyzing existing works of architecture. Its value exceeds theory framing and extends toward architectural pedagogy as a theoretical framework in teaching design studio.
Key words: Conceptual framework, architectural form, intellectual form.
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