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Content archived on 2024-05-29

The innovation in the plan of the current floor: Zoning in blocks of flats for the middle class in the first half of the 20th century

Periodic Report Summary - PIANO (The innovation in the plan of the current floor: Zoning in blocks of flats for the middle class in the first half of the 20th century)

The project is about the 'interior' of interwar buildings of European architects and their forerunners. Facades and style have built the subject of numerous studies in history of architecture. The interior is first seen at the 2D level of plans, but the grouping of functional units to zones is experienced in parcour as 3D spatiality.

Core countries were: Romania, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia. Included were also countries of mainstream modernism (Germany, Netherlands, France), the 'Hof's of Austria, forerunners of modernism (Hungary, Finland) and less documented countries (Estonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic). Documentations were based on literature, exhibition visit and field trips. The buildings were related to traditional ones as documented for the reports of the World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE). Archive research was performed during a stay at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).

A systemic analysis can be performed morphologically, functionally or dynamically. Morphology means the study of the form. Almost always innovative in facade and volumetry, many modern buildings were conservative in the interior division. The interdependence between form and function led to a model inspired by De Stijl, with focus on the potential of reinforced concrete (RC). Another aspect of morphology is the role of the principles of a 'grid' in organising the interventions to retrofit buildings with frame structure. The seismic behaviour of the RC structures was related to the local seismic culture of timber.

The relationship between architecture and structural engineering is one interdisciplinary aspect of the project. Another one is that between architecture and computer science.

A heterogeneous model in which a zone has instead of a unique function a unique vocation was proposed. There is a complex zoning with operational and organisational value. The model created and employed for a zone is a cybernetic model of systemic analysis and synthesis. Functional schemes were drawn. The main function of the spaces was determined and assigned in a 'Raumbuch' (space-book), a database-like instrument. The functional interdependencies were established following project management instruments. Textures were defined as a 'word'. The 'words' in Christopher Alexander's 'Pattern language' are an instrument in the systemic decomposition, too. Interdependence between these two systemic analysis instruments was established, and even more. In computer science, ontology is a formal representation of a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts. A technical cassette was developed for the buildings. These build a comparison tree out of comparison criteria, connected with each other as 'words' and described by means of ontology. The work 'Pattern language' was narrowly looked at. This included views on participatism and phenomenology.

The determination of characteristics to be maintained when subsequent material and spatial layers redefine the space in frame of contemporary interventions builds a link to former research. The website of the 'rediscovered space', reevaluated, was embedded into that of the project.

Lessons were learned from the solution given to the problems of the society in the modern design of flats for coping with environmental problems today. The first environmental hazard considered are earthquakes. Another hazard is climate change: investigated was the so-called 'rediscovered green space', a solution to the dense urban areas with such buildings. The implication of citizens was considered for implementing these lessons, by means of participatism. Former research was updated with developments in the past 10 years, including disaster management and computer support. The intervention after the earthquake in l'Aquila was investigated, together with relationships between the new developments and those of the student dormitories of interwar time.

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