Preference Measurement The key to incorporating soft variables

Scepticism about the usefulness of computer modelling in Architecture and Urban Planning is often based on the argument that soft variables* such as architectural beauty cannot be measured. This is actually a misconception. The beauty itself indeed cannot be measured, but the preference of stakeholders for one design in comparison with other designs can be established without much difficulty. Otherwise, awards from juries for architects, authors, musicians, composers, etc., including Nobel prizes, would not make any sense. By measuring the preferences of the relevant stakeholders in a correct way, soft variables, like architectural beauty, can be accounted for.

It should be noted that what people say their preferences are - their espoused preferences - may be different from what these actually are as can be inferred from their observable behaviour - their preferences-in-use. For instance, individuals may say that they value quality much more than cost, but when it comes to paying they go for the cheapest alternatives. For further discussion on this issue we refer to Appendix A of Open Design, a Collaborative Approach to Architecture.

In this chapter, we describe preference measurement for Multi-Criteria Decision Making as advocated by Barzilai (1997, 2005). In Chapter 6 we will show how preference measurement can be integrated into LP optimisation.

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