International Journal of Art & Design Education

Franz Kafka in the Design Studio: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Approach to Architectural Design Education

Volume 31.3   2012

Hisarligil, Beyhan Bolak


This article demonstrates the outcomes of taking a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to architectural design and discusses the potentials for imaginative reasoning in design education. This study tests the use of literature as a verbal form of art and design and the contribution it can make to imaginative design processes – which are all too often limited by physical constraints. It has been observed that a person reading a novel can choose to suspend their disbelief and become entangled in the events of the book – where they become involved with the art not only subjectively, but also as a form of play. In the words of Hans-Georg Gadamer: ‘understanding occurs in interpreting’. This study asked design students to read three of Franz Kafka's books –The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle– prior to designing a Franz Kafka museum. The students found themselves drawn into numerous worlds that they were compelled to play along with; and demonstrating the productive role that literature can play in studio design, the students were observed to reconstruct the text and authorial context as a spatio-temporal frame of reference, in this case a museum, and thus provide museum visitors with a Kafkaesque spatial experience of the narrative world in terms of design.