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The construction of a problem: Architecture modelling after Descartes

Jane Burry


Architectural design and modelling has switched its focus from object representations of design resolution to constructing the design as a system for interrogation. This can be seen as a late shift from an architectural foundation of classical geometry to the uptake of modern analytic geometry in architecture. It is an exciting creative development but it also poses some new and explicit spatial challenges for working in much more complex design model spaces. These challenges manifest in three architectural modelling spheres: the conceptual, the operational and the constructional. How do architects cope with a representational medium that runs to many dimensions and invites models that cannot be viewed or visualised, and what does spatial syntax have to do with navigating and interrogating architectural model spaces like these? Syntax belongs to language. It is arguably a high level imposition on space but it is useful in the symbolic representation and manipulation of geometry. This paper briefly explores the challenges of the architectural shift to modern geometry. It does this through philosophical framing and hands-on architectural examples in each of the conceptual, the operational and the constructional spheres of architectural modelling. It looks for some clues, if not conclusions, about appropriate space syntactic approaches to the architectural model.


Architectural modelling, space syntax, Descartes, Kant.

Full Text: JOSS_2014_P15-34