The symbolism of the visual element is a fundamental part of visual thinking processes. The symbolism gives the designer the ability to express the visual element in a simple way that reflects its meanings. Symbols are means of understanding and creating relationships between what exists within the designer and what is around him. The designer himself is one of the symbols makers and the symbol itself is considered one of the creative design basics. Visual thinking is a system of concepts, knowledge, and associated mental processes that help the designer to develop his personal and design skills so that he reaches the top level of design, especially for architecture and the aesthetic details related to it. Architecture is one of the most important visual arts that help people to communicate with their environment. It is a living reflection of what we love, and what we belong to, so it must be a result of sincere visual thinking processes done by the designer. Visual thinking is one of the important skills that help the architecture designer to understand the environment surrounding him and the richness of its details, making him more creative. Visual thinking makes the architecture designer more capable of solving design problems in a visual range, and the mental processes associated with visual thinking elevate the designer’s creative thinking to a higher level and help him to become more capable of using visual elements of the environment -with its meanings and symbols- in original architectural designs.
The environment represents the beginning of the original design for the architectural designer. The visual elements of the environment are the main source of visual knowledge acquired by the designer. This knowledge transfers from nature to the head and the heart of the designer who gives them his own treatments, and then uses the skills of his hand to express it in the form of a special architectural design, that is called the “3Hs”, head, heart and hand. Achieving the previous process is related mainly to the designer’s visual thinking skills, which are very important for him to be able to realize the environment and express it, these skills are.
Visual reading skills. It means the ability to determine the dimensions and the nature of visual elements.
Visual discrimination skills. means the ability to recognize the visual forms, and distinguish them from other forms.
Perception of relationship skills. the ability to recognize the relationships among visual elements.
Interpreting information skills. the ability to explain the meanings of symbols, and signs of the visual forms.
Information analysis skills. means the ability of the designer to focus on the fine details of the visual form, and attention to macro and microdata.
Understanding the meaning skills. means the ability to extract new meanings, concepts, and principles through visual elements.
These skills have always been a part of the architecture designer’s designing process throughout history, even though he didn’t really know that it is a scientific process, related to scientific studies. This shows very clearly when we study the ancient architecture and the environment surrounding it, especially the ancient Egyptian architecture, which is a life sample of the architecture being a mirror of the environment through the designer’s visual thinking.
VISUAL THINKING AND ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE
The Muslim artist’s sense of his environment is not only due to his aesthetic admiration, but also because it is a reflection of God’s beautiful creation. This is the main reason why the Muslim architect watched it, studied it, and interacted with it. This visual interaction is the beginning of visual thinking, and the mental and emotional processes related to it, which led the Muslim architect to the visual awareness that he needed to read the visual sentences of his environment. These visual sentences presented the mental and emotional stimuli which invited him to generate these important visual queries, the answer to these queries became integrated architectural solutions. The Muslim artist was able to express his connection to the visual elements of his environment through his architecture, which appeared in the dome, minarets, and any other architectural forms that he designed. The dome design is a reflection of the sky, through the pointed section, as well as the various decorations that decorate the outside of it, which took the symbol of the rise up against the gravity of the earth. The Muslim artist was also able to include the architectural forms from previous civilizations in his visual thinking processes. These different styles of architecture helped him to create Aesthetic solutions to the Architectural elements of his buildings. Only the beauty of the previous architectural forms and their sculptural decorations motivated the Muslim architect to transfer them to his buildings, adding to them some of his vision and feelings.
This appears clearly in the Islamic Moqqarnas design which presented a development of the pendentives, which were created by the Arabs in the first and second centuries, to be able to move from square shape to circular shape in the corners and also used by the Sasanians in the third century. It was also shown in the design of the “Shorofat”, which might be inspired by the ancient Egyptians, or it might also be inspired by the Sasanian architecture, like these found in taq kasri in Iraq. This link between the environment and the architecture for social good affected also the Muslim receiver, who read the environment again through the architecture. This architecture presented to him the same visual elements of his environment, which he appreciated, in a different way created by the designer. This difference motivated the receiver by adding the element of excitement, which played a great role in directing the receiver’s visual awareness of the design.
Islamic architecture is an important approach to see the Muslim architect’s ability to not only use his hand but also use his head and heart through the visual thinking processes. This ability helped Muslims to create a magnificent design achieving what we call nowadays “bloom’s taxonomy”. This taxonomy collaborates the mental, emotional, and hand skills, in other words, it mixes the visual thinking processes and the ability to apply its results in reality. And that is what the Muslim architect did without even knowing. The balconies of Ibn Tulun Mosque are considered unique forms of architectural balconies, as they take the form of prayers raising their hands praying for Allah, this Idea merges the philosophy of the Islamic religion and the architectural use that the Muslim architect needed to achieve. This example reflects the use of the visual thinking process by the Muslim architect, at first, he identified the problem that needed to be solved, secondly, he put the solution that combined the spirit of Islam with the practical usage from the visual environment around him. The Muslim architect didn’t use the ornaments from the previous architecture as it is, he merged them with his own culture and spirit, to create new and creative grapes ornament, for example, these ornaments used in the Ibn Tulun mosque, look like the five-looped grapes leaves, and those small circles resemble the fruits of grapes.
Visual thinking is a collection of mental processes that the designer had since ancient times. It has become one of the important topics of scientific research recently due to the evolution of different sciences and their correlation to each other. Visual thinking has become linked to several important terms like emotion, symbolism, visual queries, and visual search. It became also clear that seeing is the start of the whole visual process that leads to the imagination which leads also to evaluating the designer’s ability to be aware of his surrounding environment, and its visual elements. This visual awareness helped to build great architecture like Islamic architecture and it helped also to enhance not only the designer’s ability to think visually but also the receiver’s ability.
SOCIAL GOOD MESSAGE
Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.