italian Handbooks architecture Copyright: © DAPe Politecnico di Torino & JP Tool-Cultures

Ph.D. Thesis "The Handbooks Legacy: The Paradigm of Distribution in Architectural Design"

In collaboration with Prof. Riccardo Palma, Dipartimento di Architettura e Design DAD, Politecnico di Torino

Agreement of Joint Thesis Supervision between RWTH Aachen and Politecnico di Torino

Ph.D. candidate: Andrea Alberto Dutto

The research conducted in ‘The Handbooks Legacy: The Paradigm of Distribution in Architectural Design’ investigates handbooks in the domain of graphic tools oriented to architectural design. The research hypothesis is that handbooks proceed via the figuration conventions embedded in five conventional systems of representation of architectural design which are related to: building typologies, structural behavior, functional organization, academic composition, and the scientific management of labor. More specifically, handbooks show how these systems of representations can be simplified in order to adapt to new requirements, such as distribution at the beginning of the 20th Century. The distribution of buildings does not appear to be simply an architectural issue but also an innovative scientific paradigm that involve a multiplicity of disciplinary contributions.
The thesis is structured in two parts. The first part consists in a theoretical overview on handbooks and their paradigmatic shift from construction to distribution. Particular attention is dedicated to the variation of concepts like ‘program’, ‘dweller’ and ‘diagram’.
The second part is devoted to the analysis of five Italian handbooks published in the first half of the 20th Century, where the operative features of distributional representation enucleated in the first part are exemplified. A deep insight on the technical mechanisms involved in the practice of diagram-making is portrayed, from the basic elements of notations towards complex diagrammatic configurations. Finally, a set of design references drawn from various historical periods is provided in order to show how the techniques of diagram-making are embedded in architectural design.