Dragon1 Standard: Architecture

Architecture as Concept

This page describes the vision of the concept of architecture as part of the Dragon1 way of thinking. On this page, we show how one can describe the Building Architecture of the Colosseum using this way of thinking.

Building Architecture and Enterprise Architecture are both about concept design and implementation, social activity systems, and physical structures. Dragon1 defines architecture fundamentally, resulting in a foundation that makes both sciences founded upon the same.

Architecture is one of the magical words in every language. When we think of architecture we think of great megastructures, built in the past thousands of years or built recently as modern art.

For years, we have studied building architecture and applied its foundations to enterprise architecture. To be more specific, onto the structure of an enterprise.

On this page, you get a high-level introduction to the Dragon1 Way of Thinking on architecture and enterprise architecture.

What is Architecture?

In Dragon1, we define architecture in two ways: 1) as a field of science and 2) as the architecture of a structure (or a system).

  1. The first definition of Architecture in architecture from the scientific field is: the design and (supervising) construction and change of (mega) structures.
  2. The second definition of Architecture in architecture of a structure is: a total concept of a structure being a coherent set of constructive concepts, operative concepts, and decorative concepts.

From this follows that an architect is a designer, a project manager, and a supervisor.

The architect takes the stakeholders on a journey from the current state (AS-IS) of the site or environment to the future state (TO-BE). On that journey, a lot of things can happen. Working with architecture helps to control risks and secure outcomes.

  1. A system is defined as a set of collaborating entities realizing common goals. A structure is a specialization of the system. Not all systems are structures, like a bag of sand.
  2. A structure is defined as the arrangement and relationship of constructive, operative, and decorative entities in a complex system. So a structure is not all about construction, it is more. Humans, buildings, and enterprises are structures and have architectures. They have all vibrant spaces where a lot is happening inside.
  3. An architecture of a structure or a system is the total concept of a structure or a system, containing constructive, operative, and decorative concepts. Buildings, enterprises, and humans share the same concept of architecture.
  4. A concept is defined as an approach abstracted from its implementation. Walking, sleeping, moving, spiraling against vortex shedding, and self-service are examples of concepts.
  5. A principle is defined as the enforced way something, like a concept works, and produces results. A principle at the logical level states the core elements that are arranged or collaborated. At the physical level, it states the components and at the implementational level, it states the technical products.

With a small set of terms (architecture, structure, system, concept, principle and element, owner/client, stakeholder, and architect) any architecture, for buildings and enterprises, high level, can be created.

Sometimes architecture is defined as a certain description or documentation of a system, but that is not a workable definition. That would mean that without documentation there would be no architecture for that system.

Writing good definitions is a hard task. We stay close to three rules for good definitions: Does the definition only use previously defined terms, Does the definition quantify and qualify, Are there any counterexamples for the definition?

Dragon1 Core Meta Model

Below you see the core meta model of Dragon1.

It shows the 35 most important entity classes and their relationships. You can find all the entity classes that are mentioned here. Every one of these 10 entity classes is defined in the Glossary of Terms, containing over 300 terms. All these terms can be used here on the platform to model any architecture.

Architectural Styles

For building and landscape architects it also goes that they define their style of architecture and type of structure, like a church, bridge, office building, hotel, opera, shopping mall, park or garden. For their type of structure, they know of many, many, architectural styles and types of structures. And they like to mix up and blend those types into a unique one.

Take, for instance, Central Park in New York. That is a great unique successful combination of all kinds of architectural landscape styles and park types. You might want to look around on the internet and read the fantastic story about how it was designed and approved by the public and finally built. Great story.

Gothic Architecture

Gothic architecture is an architectural style (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_architecture). The gothic architecture of a specific church is the gothic concepts applied to that structure.

Common Gothic concepts are the pointed arch, the ribbed vault (which evolved from the joint vaulting of Romanesque architecture), and the flying buttress. Any church built without these concepts will hardly be recognized as Gothic Church.

The Function of Architecture

The function of architecture is to be able to design and construct structures that are much more sound, functional, and aesthetic answering a variety wide of (conflicting) requirements, that would otherwise have not been easy or possible to construct.

The function of Enterprise Architecture in particular is to enable enterprise transformation.

Architecture helps us to manage and control complexity and to deal with continuous change in a structure.

12 World Wonders

Examples of structures are houses, office buildings, churches and mosques, bridges, cars, airplanes, and organizations and enterprises. These are all complex systems.

Examples of structures that are built by doing great architecture are: The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, The Palais Garnier Opera in Paris, The Colosseum in Rome, The Beijing Airport, The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, The West Edmonton Mall in Canada, Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Hotel Abraj Kudai in Mecca, The London Underground, The Airbus A380 Airplane, The Chinese Wall and The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.

Building Architecture vs Enterprise Architecture

As building architecture focuses on the design and construction of structures creating functional space, enterprise architecture, according to Dragon1, focuses on the same for enterprises.

Because buildings and enterprises both can be classified as structures and because both can be designed and constructed and because both concepts and their principles are available for design and construction, the same concept of architecture can be applied to them.

Organizations and enterprises are getting so complex and changing continuously, that the only way to keep that manageable is to have all change and innovation be done using architecture.

All enterprises and organizations form interconnected and collaborated ecosystems, the IT infrastructures and digital service facilities have to be always available and secure to support the work in business processes. Enterprise architecture is a proven management instrument to guide the journey of change for every enterprise or organization.

The Colosseum Architecture

The reason to look now at the Colosseum architecture is to show that its architecture can be unveiled as a total concept. Many of the concepts we know today originate from the Colosseum as you will see.

The Colosseum is constructed out of many concepts. The total concept of the Colosseum, also called the Flavian Amphi theatre, is a half-open Amphi theatre. The Colosseum has been a blueprint with this for many other Amphi theaters.

Some well-known generic and specific concepts used in the design and construction of the Colosseum are:

  • Arena
  • Podium
  • Gladiator
  • Spectator
  • Spectacle & Event
  • Seats
  • Cellars
  • Travertine
  • Colonnade
  • Cavea
  • Corridors
  • Machines
  • Velum
  • Arches
  • Drainage
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Texture
  • Value
  • Form
  • Balance
  • Contrast
  • Emphasis
  • Movement
  • Pattern
  • Rhythm
  • Unity and Variety
  • Symmetry and asymmetry
  • Eye catcher

The Colosseum structure includes all of the old/classical architecture orders for the way columns are constructed.

Here we have a picture that provides us a look into the Colosseum where we still can see parts of these concepts.

To already think ahead of enterprise architecture, would it be possible and wise to always create a scale model and diagram based on the type of photos you see here: a scale model, a cross-section, a ground floor plan, and an aerial view.

Total Concept Design Sketch or Architecture Vision

Using the concepts, a functions diagram and concepts diagram can be created by the architect where he relates the needs, issues, concerns, and requirements from stakeholders to the functions and functions to the concepts, to justify the selection of these functions and concepts. Functions are defined as a fulfillment of the task. A function can be regarded as a very generic concept without any (recognizable) technology (because of etymology).

In building and landscape architecture it is also done that the site or environment is photographed, visualized, and examined thoroughly in its current state. If you build a bridge or a building, you don't want it to sink into the ground right away.

These diagrams need to be discussed and changed in many cycles over and over again with the stakeholders and the architect until the most important stakeholders agree with it.

Next, the architect creates a total concept design sketch at A0 size using metaphorical pictures and icons for all the functions and concepts hinting and highlighting certain elements and showing that the structure or solution can answer all the use scenarios or use cases. Like in the case of the Colosseum all types of events can be held with the desired outcomes.

The Ground Floor Plan or Structure Vision

Because some subjects and issues are better discussed and explained using a 2D visualization, architects create a floor plan for every level of the structure.

A ground floor plan like the one for the Colosseum shows how every spectator will have a certain view of the spectacle, how many spectators it can hold, how many gladiators can play at the same time, and other things.

Concept Sketches and Principle Details Diagram

Now the architect takes all the concepts and writes and draws down the definition of the concept, an overview of the concept and the way the concept works in general (its first principle) and he creates a drawing of how the concept will work and be applied in this particular case. Sometimes a concept has to be adjusted to the context. The architect discovers and reveals all kinds of elements (at the logical level) and components (at the physical level) that need to collaborate to get the principles going.

Important to note that architects are normally the ones who are responsible for creating a program of requirements and for calculating and budgeting how much the usage of certain concepts costs, how much time it takes, and how much resources are required.

In the table below you see some example of concepts and their first principle.

ConceptPrincipleKey Elements

The Architecture Plan and Logical and Physical Design

Now the architect knows all of the elements of the environment and the structure. This enables him to create a logical level design overview and detailed designs per function or concept.

Likewise he creates also a physical level design and detailed designs. And of course, every part of the design is discussed with and reviewed by the owner/client and stakeholders to approve it (because they must pay for it).

Also the architect creates an architectural plan. A project document that tells how the designs are used to construct the solution. The contractors, later on, will make a much more detailed plan for their part of the structure or project.

The Creativity and Experience of an Architect

Architecture is design science and incorporates design thinking. Not two structures and the architecture of the structure are the same.

So the list or set of concepts that the architect should or must choose is not known before and it is his job and mission to find out. And how the concepts can or must be applied in this particular case is also not known beforehand.

Hundreds of years ago it was custom that young beginning architects should travel around countries to see how buildings and structures were created and to find out what was still standing erect after floods, wars, and earthquakes and how that was possible.

Today architects inspire themselves by visiting other sites and also looking at other fields like nature, marine, and biology.

For instance, some architects of major construction organizations always look at where on our planet is a site that is ten years ahead of the site of their clients and they look at how the problems are solved. Take for instance Mexico City. In that area, a lot of problems are there already and these exact problems will only turn up in big cities in the US, China, or other countries ten years from now.

Architects also build escape routes: What if a certain part of the structure can't be built for whatever reasons? Will it even then, look finished and be ready for use? In Rome, we have, for instance, some structures people think are finished, but the owner/client ran out of money, it was built very smartly so it is not easy to see.

What we can learn from Building Architecture

The quick introduction to building architecture on this page sets some directions we have to follow if we want to create an enterprise architecture with the same function and outcomes for an enterprise structure as for a building structure.

Dragon1, as an open EA method and SaaS collaboration platform for Enterprise Architecture, promotes getting your requirements rights, creating sketches and designs, and visualizing concepts and principles. Working out various scenarios. Calculating and budgeting and often, very often, discussing and reviewing the designs with the stakeholders.

Enterprise architects need to define their architectural style and type of structure also, like building architects and landscape architects do. If you are (re)designing or changing a bank, government agency, or school, what architectural style or type of bank, agency, or school are you going to use and design and what are the major changes the environment can take or incorporate?

Architecture practiced in this way never can go wrong.


We appreciate it if you wanted to help to improve Dragon1. Please send your feedback or suggestions to mark.paauwe@dragon1.com. Your feedback or suggestions will then be reviewed by the Change Advisory Board and be used to improve this way of thinking. You will receive a response about how your feedback or suggestions are handled.

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