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70 504 Systems Oriented Design: Design for Very Complex System

Full course name in English: 
Systems Oriented Design: Design for Very Complex System
70 504
Syklus 2
2024 Høst
2024 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Andreas Wettre

This is a course for master students in their 3rd and is open to design, architecture and landscape architecture students.


Om emnet

Learn to work with complexity – using Systems Oriented Design

This systems approach will empower students with the ability to rapidly learn and understand the complexity of the context to find the most effective places in the system to design interventions that are relevant to addressing the problems. The SOD methodology is applicable in any context and scale, from sustainable product design to policy design to sustainability transitions of society at large. An essential part of SOD is to use design skills to visualize complexity.

The methodology can also be used within a spatial framework, where one can focus on the spaces and places of a system as the drivers of the design project. Through the application of SOD to the fields of landscape architecture and architecture the course poses a challenge of expanding student’s work to address their spatial interests at a systematic context with a cross-scalar and transdisciplinary lens.

This SOD fall masters course invites you to get on the dance floor and jointly explore and play with ideas that are rooted in systems thinking and design doing.

We aim to work with two different tracks:

  1. Focus on what happens before a building project get started, looking at the need in a bigger perspective, and understanding all the actors and their agendas in order to develop a desirable future and portfolio of interventions.
  2. Focus on industrial design and take a broad look at sustainability by investigating economical and societal approaches to make ideas truly succeed in the market.

The two tracks will exchange learnings and discuss methods and mindset to maximize the learning.

If you are a curious person who likes to puzzle and have fun with exploring a context broadly and figure out what would be relevant to design to make systemic impacts, you have found the right course for you!

If you have done the “Introduction to SOD” in your 3rd year at AHO (Design) you will find that we in this course go deeper into SOD and adapting your thinking and skills in a different context.

We will pull in resources from our Executive Master SOD students and their network as “context navigators”. These are actors who have a deeper domain knowledge.

If you want more information look up the menu Projects/Master projects at the website https://systemsorienteddesign.net

Teachers on the course: Andreas Wettre, Abel Crawford, Jonathan Romm + external contributors


Knowledge: Students will be introduced to System Oriented Design (SOD) as a method and approach, to:

  • Develop a sensibility for systems, relationships and consequences: cause and effect, to think of how systems are embedded within different domains and different scales
  • Visualize complexity, and using these visualizations as a tool to understand and find interventions to improve the systems
  • Deal with uncertainty through unfolding and understanding complexity while working with “problematiques” (multiple interlinked problems)
  • Anticipate futures through developing an ability to understand and consider multiple future scenarios and evaluate the possible, probableand desirable, developing both individual and participatory visions of the future.
  • Anticipate thresholds for implementation and impacts of designed solutions.
  • Rich design space for working with interventions in complex problematiques
  • Critically think and self-reflect through considering questioning the norms, values influencing the opinions, behavior and decisions of yourself and the stakeholders they are designing for.
  • Considering your role as a designer/architect and citizen in the local community and global society.
  • Navigate sustainability by being exposed to the state of the world and guiding design criteria for sustainability Regenerative, Resilient, Circular, Cross-scale design through a critical lens

Skills: Students will acquire skills in:

  • SOD as process-led methodology
  • Visualizing complexity and utilizing Rich Design Space
  • Research by design methodology
  • Systems Thinking
  • Sustainability Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Collaboration through interdisciplinary problem solving in groups
  • Workshop facilitation

General competence:

  • Students will be able to use SOD methodology to understand and tackle complex problems and to utilize systems thinking.
  • Holistic perspectives, ethics and sustainability as well as cultural, organizational, economic and technical considerations are central to the Systems oriented designer.
  • Systems-oriented designers can play a decisive role in managing complexity in future societal developments. Systems-oriented designers typically can work in consultancies, in organizations, in municipalities with service design, on policy level and in the private sector.
  • Systems-oriented designers are trained in techniques such as Gigamapping.
  • The systems-oriented designer is also a skilled workshop facilitator and leader of co-design processes


Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Project plans are created for each project individually according to the demands. Each project requires, in principle, its own project design. The course itself is a dynamic social system that must be adjusted and tweaked in real time.

The students will choose whether to work in pairs, in a larger group or individually.

  • Designing Complexity : The Methodology and Practice of Systems Oriented Design (2022)
  • Author(s): Birger Sevaldson
VurderingsmappeIndividuellBestått / ikke beståttAll students need to present their work in three milestones + the final presentation.

In addition, all students need to deliver a gigamap, a report and a process board.
Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar:All students need to present their work in three milestones + the final presentation.

In addition, all students need to deliver a gigamap, a report and a process board.
OppmøteThere will be milestone presentations at the end of each module to ensure and evaluate progress. Students are expected to attend all lectures, tutorials and presentations.
Forventet arbeidsinnsats:
Kommentar:There will be milestone presentations at the end of each module to ensure and evaluate progress. Students are expected to attend all lectures, tutorials and presentations.