The objective of this course is to generate thinking on the elaboration of research methods that incorporate various complementary tools aimed at the understanding of architectural shapes and their production processes.
Forms, shapes, geometries produced by architecture are liable to be subjected to various kinds of cognitive investigations, the methods and principles of which are more or less explicit or confessed, and for which the objectives themselves differ. The teaching proposed in this course addresses a family of tools for analysis which are coherent with a methodological axis devised to avoid doctrines and to produce knowledge with some guaranty of objectivity: the purpose is to formulate and/or evaluate assumptions rather than to argue an opinion or express simple commentaries.
The first lecture introduces form analysis, that is the preliminary process leading to an evaluation of what defines the identity of a form : using descriptive and statistical tools and methods, the idea is to extract the morphological characteristics on which resemblance or uniqueness are stated. These tools operate on corpora (a sufficient number of comparable buildings) and reveal classifications, typologies, morphological structures eventually leading to the formulation of shape genetics.
Although a constitutive part of their understanding, knowledge of the intrinsic characters of the form is not in itself their explanation. The object of the second family of tools and methods is to evaluate the extrinsic elements or facts that contribute to the determination of the shape : program specifications, context, mechanics and construction, quality of space, expression, etc. The two following lectures focus on two of these issues : semiotics and structural mechanics.†
Following the lectures, the students engage in a research initiation project on a subject elaborated with their tutor, and are asked to produce a paper of grossly 30 pages, liable to lead to a thesis subject submission