What is architectural thinking?

Architectural thinking can be described as how best to articulate an issue, solve a problem or make a difficult decision through a comprehensive approach of context and systems.


The cohesive conglomerations of interrelated and interdependent parts. Both natural and man-made. They are described by its structure and purpose or nature and expressed in their functioning. Changing one part of the system usually affects other parts and the whole system, with predictable patterns of behavior.


The frame that surrounds and provides for appropriate interpretation. Every system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment. It considers system related domains like action, thought, physicality and positions them to the product of time, the zeitgeist.


The process of assessment, planning and action to bring about change. A wide range of intervention strategies exist and they are directed towards various types of issues. In general, it means any activities used to modify behavior, emotional state, or feelings towards a specific goal or end.

How does it work?

Architectural thinking requires to think about things holistically; seeing how changes in one domain impact other domains; understanding interdependence; leveraging chaos, complexity and emergence. Architecture operates on the brink of prediction and uncertainty; between the big picture and personal viewpoints; between planned and emergent change; between globalisation and localisation. 

’I would describe myself a comprehensive anticipatory design scientist…an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.’

– Buckminster Fuller –

The role of the architect-thinker is that of the ”facilitator polymath”. The person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Able to combine, organise and complement a multitude of information. Not one man knowing all, but enough to act as a spider in the web of expertises. Every specialist is better informed in their area of expertise. Together, this gives them the opportunity to combine their knowledge to create a greater body of work than any of the separate parts. The combination of these specialisations allows for a greater innovation from collaboration. An innovation that can add value beyond the level of problem solving that was originally required.


I believe that the growing complexity of interdisciplinary work requires a research by design type approach. One that applies research and innovates through prototyping.
Wouter Kamphuis

Wouter Kamphuis

MSc architecture

Creative wildcard and unorthodox generator of ideas. I look for strong theoretical understanding behind my work, including social and ethical considerations.

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Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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Wouter Kamphuis 
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