PhD Kyle Brand


This PhD study is a joint PhD with the Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa


This study aims to investigate the concepts of ‘polymath interpolator’ design, and its characteristics which are defined as openness, navigation, and satisficing. The intention is to develop real-world solutions in a series of Research through Design (RtD) activities to address the sociotechnical challenge of conservation of the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri), in particular the development of an artificial nest strategy.

The Southern Ground Hornbill has seen a rapid decline and is at risk of becoming critically endangered. A key factor causing this decline is the loss of habitat, and as such viable nesting. The nest design needs to be adaptable to new and emerging contexts as well as future scenarios. An open-ended design solution acknowledges this complexity of the design problem and avoids a linear process where only a single design solution is produced. The main solution will be a new design for an artificial nest for the Southern Ground Hornbill that aligns and assist with the broader conservation efforts for the species. This design will aim to have an adaptable geometric form determined through the design process considering different conditions and various stake holders. The material strategy for the nests will need to be a strong enough, but biodegradable solution that allows for appropriate production and costs. The production strategy will aim to align with the context and aims of the partner organisation (working with volunteers and communities). Alongside this core solution, many other spin-off and related challenges will be addressed simultaneously. These spin-off projects may form entirely new projects, or they may branch off only to return and contribute to the main challenge. This branching and re-joining fits with the polymath design approach, arguably allowing openness not only in the solutions, but also in the problem identification and scope of engagement. Using these research through design activities, the aim is to develop a transdisciplinary framework for polymath interpolator design for addressing sociotechnical challenges with open-ended solutions.

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