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id cdc2008_111
authors Dounas, Theodore
year 2008
title Algebras, Geometries and Algorithms, Or How Architecture fought the Law and the Law Won
source First International Conference on Critical Digital: What Matters(s)? - 18-19 April 2008, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge (USA), pp. 111-114
summary An Architect is required to deal quite often with a restrictive piece of Building Code during his/her practice, especially in traditional and hence protected environments. The paper examines the algorithmic nature of such a Building Code and in particular the President's Decree governing the design and architecture of traditional housing in the Old Town, “Ano Poli”, in Thessaloniki Greece. The nature of the constraints and descriptions the Decree contains is algorithmic, which means that the descriptions of the constraints is procedural with a specific start and a specific finish for a house design. The problem with such descriptions in a Law is that, although an architect can develop his/her own interpretations of the traditional language of the area, or even be able to trace his/her designs using shape grammars derived from traditional buildings preserved until today, the final result cannot be approved for a building permit since it does not comply with the Presidential Decree. We suggest that the nature of such legislation should be algebraic in nature and not algorithmic, since algebras allow an amount of freedom in development of architectural language while also permitting the restriction of scale, height and so on. This coupling of architectural design freedom and effective restriction on metrics of new buildings contained in algebraic systems can be shown to be much more effective than the established algorithmic system. The Decree's content comprises of regulations concerning the volume, form and use of new buildings in the protected and conserved built environment of “Ano Poli” in Thessaloniki.
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