The Contact and Channel Approach (C&C-A) has been developed to support the decomposition and design of technical systems. It is based on the principle that function and form emerge together during design, and therefore should be considered together in a design representation. This paper discusses the theory underlying the C&C-A, and describes its formalization and implementation in a software tool. The approach is applied to model the system architecture of a humanoid robot arm considering the impact of a proposed design change. This illustrates some of the main benefits of the Contact and Channel Approach: helping designers visualize, understand and communicate the complex dependencies between function and form in a system architecture.

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