Like a carpenter's hammer or a brickies trowel, a designer's tools range from mathematics to music. The logic of maths and the structure, layering and rhythms of music are a good analogy for the process of design. Call the steady bass line the structure and press on from that grid...
Local government regulations represent good manners between neighbours, while the building code keeps everyone healthy and safe.
To pull all the issues together into a unified whole takes a concept. Conceptual thinking involves broadly and loosely considering the important parts of any problem and coming up with a unified artistic expression for the building. This is the joy of design.
Discovering a concept for a building gives you an overall vision that helps you make decisions in a structured way further down the track.
next time: Why go to University?