As an aside… the sunsets from the architecture building at the University of Dundee can be truly spectacular.
Photos were taken on my Nokia Lumia 1020 and were originally posted to my Instagram account.
Hoda Homayouni’s paper, ‘A survey of computational approaches to space layout planning (1965-2000)’, provides a useful overview on the existing research in systematic spatial planning. It makes an interesting read. The paper is also available to download online.
I have taken Steadman’s method of exhaustive generation of spatial layout through dissection not for spatial planning of rooms, but for spatial planning of urban blocks. These rules governing these dissections have so far been dictated by requirements for natural daylight penetration and passive ventilation. They are also loosely governed by structural efficiency and some basic research in to communications infrastructure. I am not however looking to create a new computer system for generating spatial layouts. Instead I am developing existing research and imposing additional ‘rules’ to allow the diagrams of space that can be generated through the methods underpinning these systems, to become the basis for large-scale developments of urban blocks.
Homayouni writes of a, ‘situation that the software could help the architect in the design process especially in analyzing and optimizing tasks’. That, in the form of the Block Urbanism website, describes astutely what I hope to achieve for the process of designing of urban blocks. You can read more about the process of systematic generation and the anticipated practical application on this blog.
Steadman, P. Architectural Morphology: An Introduction to the Geometry of Building Plans. London, Pion Ltd, 1983.
Last year I did a research unit looking at the work of William Playfair. My output is not currently online (although I may make it available in the future), however some of the key ideas explored overlap with my research this year.
Wilson (1992) writes on Georgian Dublin that, ‘the people who built these houses had the good taste to know they had nothing very important to say; and therefore they didn’t attempt to express anything’; and Bonta (1979) writes that, ‘forms become meaningful not only because of contrast with other forms, but also because of similarity to certain forms that carry the same meaning’. These two ideas are perhaps the crux of generating order in the city – the regularity of the ‘in-between’ realm allowing the celebrated buildings to emerge from the urban landscape.
This is particularly striking in the context of Edinburgh where both Old Town and New Town have a similarity of form that typifies the region, creating both a striking contrast between the two sides of Princes Street Gardens. This similarity of form also allows the ‘monuments’ within the city to stand out.
While my Rationalist studies in pursuit of an architecture for the urban block may seem to lack the artistic value of, well, architecture, it is quite possible that this structure and function-driven method of design is perfectly suited to filling that in-between realm of the city.
Bonta, J. P. Architecture and its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Symbols in Architecture. London, Lund Humphries Publishers, 1979.
Ellis, W. C. ‘The Spatial Structure of Streets’ in Anderson, S. (ed.), On Streets. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, M.I.T Press, 1978.
My previous post on urban blocks and digital connectivity showed some basic explorations of communications infrastructure in buildings. A development of these explorations is shown below. Once again the full reach of cabling is shown as a dotted line on the plans.
The drawings shown are drawn, when viewed as full size high-resolution images, at a scale of 1:2500.
As part of a brief exploration in to provision for communications infrastructure in buildings, I created this set of diagrams (below), showing potential distributions of comms rooms in an urban block of size 105m x 60m.
The full reach of the cabling is shown as a dotted line in plan for diagrams 4-6.
Additional notes to follow.
Thanks to Sam Wilson at the IT Infrastructure Division, University of Edinburgh for providing some insights around cabling in buildings.
There is a beautifully drawn analysis of the urban block in Barcelona at the website of the Architectural Association by a student called Yuwei Wang. An insightful exploration in to the development of the very dense block typology that is characteristic of much of the Barcelonian urban grid structure.