N. John Habraken (john@habraken.org)

Ongoing Interests

The Role of the Architect


Palladio's Children

Seven essays on the role of the architect in relation to everyday environment.

The Build Environment as an autonomous entity

The structure of the Ordinary 

A study of the Built Environment which looks at change in the environment as the result of control by agents, which change reveals a constant structure common to all built environment. MIT Press.

Design Methodology

The Grunsfeld Variations:  How to do an extensive neighborhood design with a team of ten designers in six weeks? How to do teamwork without endless meetings? Done in the eighties, this study is still relevant and available on CD

Thematic Design:  How to design for change and variety?

For an introduction to the course I developed at MIT see: Control of Complexity, an article in ‘PLACES’.

Exercises in Thematic design.  Based on the design course I gave at MIT, these exercises aimed to teach SKILLS in making complex environmental forms and still be in control.

No discussion on style, nor on function. Focus on the manipulation of form. The course was taught by weekly home assignments outside the studio format.

Still in progress.
I am presently working on a new book on “Thematic Design Plays” which is a revision and extension of the exercises I did in my MIT course


The Computer as a design assistant

Two papers I invite discussion on: Formsheet is a proposal for a general interface to access design data the way a spreadsheet gives access to numerical data.

WHY? The better CAD programs today are based on powerful databases. After all, designing is producing information about architectural form. But the interfaces offered us do not take advantage of this fact. To improve them we need a better grasp on what designers do when designing. Methodology is the key to enlisting the computer as a design companion.

Architectural Education

Design teaching is dominated by the ritualistic conventions of the studio format. Tools of the trade argues that in today's practice and environmental reality much is left ignored that should figure in teaching design.

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