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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Architectural Equations & Strategic Design Decisions

I believe that shelter is a threat to the planet more fundamental than the effect of climate change. Shelter is a cause that consumes resources, discharges waste, and is home to many activities and much equipment that lacks redeeming ecologic value.
All shelter can be divided into six generic design categories.  Each category is differentiated by the parking system present or planned. This makes it possible to write equations for gross building area potential (development capacity) based on a given parking system. It does not solve our symbiotic problem, but it lays the foundation for shelter capacity evaluation within sustainable limits.
Solving the symbiotic problem without addressing the sustainable shelter issue is not possible. Sprawl will simply consume the solutions.
Architectural equations define the relationship of design topics within a parking design category. I’ve called the potential options development capacity (gross building area per buildable acre) alternatives. These alternatives are influenced by the values entered in a design category equation, and each set of values defines a level of intensity. Choosing a design category and set of topic values represents an intensity decision. These are the strategic decisions needed to shelter growing populations within geographic limits that do not threaten their source and quality of life.
Intensity is the gross building and pavement area present or planned per buildable acre. It is a function of the design category and topic values chosen. The topics in an equation can also be measured at existing locations to evaluate their combined implications. Topic research can produce a language of architectural intensity and urban composition that is unquestionably in the public interest. City planning and zoning have made an attempt; but they have had arbitrary results in my opinion.  Their language and regulations are simply not based on an understanding of design categories, topic values, and architectural equations. These are the tools that can lead individual shelter contributions toward successful city design objectives with a symbiotic goal.
It’s not enough to govern land use separation and building design detail. Land use allocation and shelter intensity decisions are inseparable elements of urban form and must be correlated to protect the physical, social, psychological, economic, and environmental “welfare” of populations within sustainable geographic limits. Unfortunately, some elements of urban form have been overlooked and others have been arbitrarily combined to produce misallocation, over-development, and sprawl in many cases. This lack of correlation has not laid the foundation for a symbiotic future and has led to my belief that any effort to protect the public health and safety which overlooks welfare is a recipe for misery and extinction.
Development capacity (architectural mass or gross building area), pavement area, and project opens space area can be defined by the values entered in an intensity equation. These values are the mathematical recipe behind shelter composition and appearance.  Research has not correlated design categories and topic values with their intensity implications, but intensity has an undeniable impact on our quality of life. This oversight has occurred because category equations have not been published to define topic relationships and talent has been treated as fine art.
The equations of architecture can be used to guide shelter research, build knowledge, repeat success, strengthen talent, defend opinion, and justify claims of benefit; but this will require measurement and evaluation of existing conditions that produce levels of shelter intensity. When knowledge is compiled, strategic advice will be sought to shape the quality of life for growing populations within sustainable geographic limits.
Louis Sullivan’s poetry noted that form follows function in the Natural Domain. In the Built Domain of the future, architectural form must follow symbiotic function to survive in a limited field that is not overgrown with intensity.

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