This is the continuation of a previous post on Morphological Studies and Architectural History.
The critical role of place and history is restored to architectural design by the Italian morphologists of the postwar period, most notably Saverio Muratori (1910–1973), a practitioner and professor at the University of Rome. He develops the method of procedural typology to provide a contextual tool for rebuilding and infilling in historic Italian sites. Procedural typology is heavily influenced by urban morphology. It departs from the Conzenian method in considering three-dimensional architectural form as developed simultaneously with the parcel patterns that enable it, as well as in positing the generation of building types by means of successive transformations. Type is defined in procedural typology as “the historical specification (spatial and temporal) of typological process, from elementary frames up to complex derivations.”1
The main feature of procedural typology, as outlined by Muratori’s student, Gianfranco Caniggia (1933–1987), is the division of the built fabric of a site into base building and specialized building.2 Base building is what concerns us here. It is understood as the minimal core of what represents, in a given architectural culture—chiefly vernacular—, the “concept of a house.”3
The base type is thus dependent on all geographic and social determinants of that given culture, meaning it also changes through time. From the base type, derived building types are obtained by “diachronic mutations” consisting, mostly, of duplications over the horizontal and vertical axes (Figure 1). As such, procedural typology is style-agnostic, that is, slanted towards modernist abstraction. The method is nonetheless sufficiently robust that it can support a layer describing the generative typology of individual construction elements, details, and ornamental schemes.
One important remark about the base building is that, unlike specialized building, it is mostly detached from specific uses or functions. Though the base type is generally called, and understood to be, a “house,” this definition is by no means restricted to single-family dwelling. The base building can range from rural to urban, comprising single- and multi-family dwellings or more complex group arrangements. In its earliest forms it will support use as warehouses and workshops for rural farmsteads, and in its mature expressions it can just as easily contain retail, offices, and small industrial shops.
Procedural Typology by Arch.Theory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.