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How can it be represented?

Of the three axis of representation, much literature exists on how to represent people and their resources (communication between people, time consumed, information created, etc.) The field of knowledge management handles the epistemoligical issues seen when handling problems pertaining to people and their resources.

This is not to say that they have been solved, but at least issues such as how people will communicate efficiently over the Internet (and other media), how a COP (Community of Practices) can be setup are being made tractable in many researches. People are working on them in other domains (and also in architecture). Hence their experiences can be tapped into.

The biggest challenge is to represent the domain of architecture efficiently. How does one represent that?

These are the few important and humungous problems when trying to represent architecture:

  • Practically anything that is not eatable or wearable can fall in the domain of architecture. That means there is a lot out there which needs be represented in the mind before the solution comes up in the world. If we try to represent everything all at once, we have top-heavy representation system that can break its own back.
    • This can be seen in an example: Today's CAD systems when handling large architectural graphics can take up huge memory both in RAM as well as on the hard-disk.
  • The priorities of what needs to be represented and discussed changes with time, culture, architect, etc.
  • Design intention also need to be captured in the architectural representation system. It is not sufficient to capture what and how but the why of a particular architectural decision should also be captured for later use.

A Taxonomy for architecture: SFA Classfication System
Around 1989, Sabu Francis discovered a mathematical classifcation system that topologically arranges spaces in any piece of architecture (or part thereof) in such a manner that it is possible to fractally represent architecture succinctly. A separate paper* explains this taxonomy and its implications in detail.

Benefits of the SFA Classfication system used in TAD

  1. It is not biased towards the constructional representation of architecture. Most conventional system assumes that space itself is not tangible, but the end product (the built matter) is all there is to it. The SFA classficiation system holistically explains ALL the spatial and built-matter issues of architecture. So it is quite a complete system to explain architecture. It can handle the entire spectrum of a design process, right from the early stage when hazy spatial ideas are being formed right to the time when the construction is in place and even beyond when the project is being maintained.
  2. TAD does not use a segmented database approach as seen in CAD and BIM programs. In any conventional database design, the programmer has to pre-determine the fields that are to be used. The user merely fills into the slots (fields) that the programmer had created when using the software. TAD introduces a meta-data structure. ALL properties of architectural elements can be determined dynamically with no limitations. To achieve conformity on the names of properties, they would be defined in a dictionary on a suitable location on the Internet and anyone using TAD would be able to choose and place the property that they seek into their project from that dictionary.
  3. TAD has a programming language interface using an AI language based on Prolog called ARDELA (Architectural Design Language). This language can be used to completely expose the internal structures of the data, capture design intentions, work on the aforementioned properties, etc.
  4. TAD can handle people and resource issues also due to the extremely flexible nature by which the data is stored in it. This has not yet been tried out due to want of financial resources for this project, but it surely can be done.

Question: Why cannot drawings be a standard for the open source system?
Though drawings have been around for quite sometime, it has severe limitations. We often forget that drawings, the way we know it, are a product of the Renaissance. The world has seen quite some changes since then and our approach towards solving problems have moved away from a reductionist approach to more holistic ones. This point is further clarified here: Why Drawings are Dead


  • The paper is in a zip format. Kindly download it and extract the contents. It has a PDF file that can be read using Acrobat Reader and the other file is a presentation that can be seen using Macromedia Player