Revisiting Nature-inspired Thinking Process in Architectural Designs Using Zaltman’s Metaphor Method (ZMET)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D Candidate in Architecture, Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran.

2 Professor, School of Architecture and Environmental Design, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran.

3 Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran.


Statement of the problem: Understanding how mental maps are used by new learners of architecture can help us gain familiarity with their mental thinking and externalize their mental knowledge. This ultimately paves the way for structuring and organizing the ideas of new learners.
Research Objective: The purpose of this study is to raise awareness about the mental representations of new learners of architecture during nature-inspired design processes and to develop a consensus map of mental models and to improve the design thinking of new learners.
Research method: This field study is qualitative in nature, and with respect to its purpose, it is applied. In this study, first, the documents and opinions of experts were scrutinized then architecture learners’ mental maps were elicited using the ZMET technique (Zaltman’s proposed technique to get to the unconscious structure of individuals).
Conclusion: Analyzing the mental maps of new learners shows that nature has been able to influence their architectural design process. The results revealed that learners were inspired by nature in their architectural designs, 26% used it for semantic analysis. The results of interviews with the new learners showed that 21% of them mostly used nature in structural and geometric patterns. The patterns were used by 36% for finding and creating ideas, which account for a big share of the design process.These results highlight the necessity of promoting nature-inspired design in architectural studios and future studies.


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