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Frontiers of Architectural Research

ISSN 2095-2635 (Print)
ISSN 2095-2643 (Online)
CN 10-1024/TU
Postal Subscription Code 80-966


, Volume 10 Issue 1

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Jianguo Wang
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 1-2.
Abstract   PDF (177KB)
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From smart to empathic cities
Nimish Biloria
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 3-16.
Abstract   PDF (599KB)

This paper acknowledges the contemporary neoliberal mode of operation of Smart Cities. The pitfalls of Smart Cities concerning its propensity towards techno-centric and efficiency-focused governance are identified, with diminutive emphasis on social equity and human-centric urban growth. Thus, the paper elaborates upon an alternative mode of person-environment-interaction based approach towards placemaking: Empathic Cities. This approach implies embracing a shift from efficiency to sufficiency and wellbeing embedded regenerative perspective for conceiving the built environment. First, the variable dimensions of urban growth and governance, which gave rise to the smart city, are contextualized. The embedded neoliberal operational agenda of smart cities are established. On this basis, the underpinnings of an empathic city are established by acknowledging the shift from technocentric to human-centric and from product-based to context-based smart city and wellbeing perspectives. Strategies toward urban development are proposed, such as embracing a regenerative perspective wherein the city and its constituents need to be understood as interdependent systemic elements while embracing a human-centric and ethical approach. Additionally, a transition from efficiency to sufficiency-oriented practices and a shift towards inclusive modes of participatory governance are proposed as fundamental principles for an empathic future of the built environment.

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Research Article
Exploratory space data analysis of spatial patterns of large-scale retail commercial facilities: The case of Gulou District, Nanjing, China
Yao Fang, Jianyuan Mao, Qinhua Liu, Jinglin Huang
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 17-32.
Abstract   PDF (7646KB)

This study uses methods, such as a nearest proximity index, nuclear density, spatial interpolation, buffering zone, and overlay analysis, based on an exploratory spatial data analysis tool. It focuses on a large commercial facility in which a mathematical analysis is conducted on its spatial patterns. In the study, 45 large-scale retail commercial facilities (LSRCFs) in the Gulou District, Nanjing, China, were chosen, and the spatial concentration, density, and structure of the LSRCFs in this area were analyzed. Three additional factors, namely, population, transportation, and consumption, were examined to determine their impact on the spatial patterns of the LSRCFs. Finally, this study recommends a spatial layout for the future of the Gulou District according to the analysis results.

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Modeling urban intersection form: Measurements, patterns, and distributions
Jun Cao, Junkai Zhu, Qingyao Zhang, Ke Wang, Junyan Yang, Qiao Wang
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 33-49.
Abstract   PDF (4070KB)

Intersections appear where one street crosses another, acting as fundamental nodes embedded in the network of urban public space. Though discussed in configurational and perceptive studies, limited attention has been paid to the morphological aspects of intersections. This study proposes and tested a new approach to modeling the urban intersection form. First, effective cylinder was introduced to define the related space for each intersection based on its scale. Second, a set of morphological indicators were presented to measure the physical properties of the intersection form. Third, the affinity propagation algorithm was used to examine the patterns of intersection form.

Using the Old City of Nanjing, China as the study area, 844 intersections were analyzed to test this new method. As a result, we were able to classify the intersections into eight types. This study shows that the intersection can be modelled as a volumetric and integral spatial unit of urban form, which may demand more attention from urban designers and architects in the future for shaping the built environment. The quantitative nature of our method could also open more possibilities for intersection-based studies.

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Morphology of quarters in traditional Arab Islamic city: A case of the traditional city of Damascus
Loai M. Dabbour
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 50-65.
Abstract   PDF (4127KB)

Studies on the quarters of traditional Arab Islamic cities have stressed the idea of an urban structure that corresponds to social groupings and to a collection of local regions or even of “inchoate” neighborhood units. This spatial model has often provided the rationale for the intervention in these cities and in the design of new housing layouts. This study aims to examine this issue through syntactic measures and observations to describe and analyze the structure and morphology of quarters through connectivity and visibility analysis of pedestrian movement through space syntax. Whether the structure of these cities presents a global whole in contrast to the assumptions of physical subareas of social groupings is discussed. The city of Damascus is used as a model of analysis in which the urban morphology of quarters is described and characterized. This study reports several findings that are potentially relevant to the understanding of traditional laws that relate the physical layout of quarters to the social structure and their local subareas to the global whole that dominate and unify the parts. On this basis, the design approach in these cities may be better understood.

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Research Article
Role of local and urban textures in promoting social interactions of residents and emphasizing living centers theory of Christopher Alexander
Somayeh Hatefishojae, Seyed Gholamreza Islami, Mahmud Rezaei
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 66-78.
Abstract   PDF (2409KB)

Local and urban squares play a crucial role in the presence and participation of people and in their interaction promotion. Alexander explained the profound geometric relations and discipline in nature, using the concept of life phenomenon theory and living structures. He believes that humans can revive creatures through creating strong centers and an integrated whole. This study selects Avicenna tomb square and center of Aqajani Beig neighborhood, Hamedan. The main research questions include what the role of Alexander’s theory of living centers is in promoting the social interaction in local and urban square and which pattern of Alexander’s theory mostly affects social interactions in squares and how the individual factors impact social interactions in local and urban squares. Results reveals that patterns of Alexander’s theory are efficient in promoting social interactions in local and urban squares. Individual factors are not effective in this regard, but strong centers and urban square contradictions are more effective in resident’s social interactions than that of void spaces and strong centers. Architects, planners, and urban designers can apply the results in designing new urban and local squares.

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Multiple dimensions of urban design development from a practice perspective: A case study of an institute in Nanjing
Dongqing Han, Yacheng Song, Enqi Wang, Hua Liu, Rong Fang
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 79-91.
Abstract   PDF (5141KB)

The rapid urbanization process in China has promoted the active state of urban design practice. In the process of solving complex problems, the practical scope of urban design has gradually expanded. This paper took a design institution in Nanjing as a case study and sorted the trends in design project types and themes over the past 20 years, which presented a partial and diverse state of evolution in urban design practice. Concept, technology and management were extracted as the three main dimensions of cognitive urban design practice development. The relative positions and relationships of different types of urban design work were interpreted through mapping analysis of these three dimensions. This study provided a foundation for the practical orientation of urban design in China and a platform for communication among managers, urban design practitioners, scholars of related disciplines, and the public.

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Research article
The Monumentenwacht model for preventive conservation of built heritage: A case study of Monumentenwacht Vlaanderen in Belgium
Meiping Wu, Birgit van Laar
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 92-107.
Abstract   PDF (5663KB)

Monumentenwacht (Monument Watch) is an organization that specializes in the periodic inspection of built heritage to raise awareness among owners and caretakers of the importance of proper maintenance and preventive conservation. It originated in the Netherlands in 1973. It was later established in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Slovak, Spain, France, and Portugal in the form of similar organizations and projects with similar aims. The organization promotes the idea of “prevention is better than cure” by offering periodic inspection, monitoring, and minor urgent repair and writing independent professional inspection reports as a reference for owners and users for further maintenance and conservation activities. This study explores the working mode of Monumentenwacht in Flanders, Belgium, including its historical development, organizational structure, inspection team configuration, professional inspection report, database, reporting system, and technical manuals. A brief analysis of other similar organizations and projects in various European countries is included to reveal efficient ways to promote this model while respecting different cultural, economic, social, legal, and political contexts.

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Research Article
Italian perspective on the planned preventive conservation of architectural heritage
Stefano Della Torre
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 108-116.
Abstract   PDF (259KB)

This paper tells us a complex story on the historic evolution of preventive conservation of architectural heritage in Italy. Firstly, it introduces Cesare Brandi’s Theory of Restoration, pointing out the peculiar sense of the word Restoration in Brandi’s system other than the common sense in the international discourse, the limits of Brandi’s theory to architectural conservation and his prophecy on preventive restoration. Then it talks about the different framework and practices of preventive conservation in the field of built heritage compared to the museum sector, the milestone of Giovanni Urbani’s pilot project on programmed conservation and the leading role of the Risk Map of Cultural Heritage. Finally, based on the discussions of the durable change in the architectural conservation field after the Venice Charter, including the teaching in Milan School, the debate and re-definition of architectural conservation and the advance definitions of conservation, prevention, maintenance and restoration in the 2004 National Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape, it gives us an agenda for future trends of planned conservation with aims to conserve the material authenticity and promote the co-evolutional strategy.

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Architectural survey of historical buildings: The orders of classical architecture in the Baptistery of Florence
Jorge Romero
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 117-133.
Abstract   PDF (6182KB)

The survey of historic buildings is very important for architectural conservation. An integral survey allows perpetuating the building historical memory, deciphering it for future generations, and recovering it in case of accidental loss. The Baptistery of Florence survey was done with four measuring methods: the “direct” one, which employs traditional measuring tools; the “indirect” one, which expedites the dimension-gathering process with more precision; and the “photogrammetric” one, which uses snapshots to facilitate the representation process with computers. An innovative measuring concept, known here as the “recovery survey”, synthetizes graphical reality so that irregularitiesddue to the project materialization and deterioration over timeddisappear; therefore, retrieving the building original design. Columns with their bases, shafts and capitals, as well as entablatures with their architraves, friezes and cornices were under study. The three Greek orders (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) together with the two roman orders (Tuscan and Composite) unveiled the classical architecture significance. These constituents, which reoccur inside and outside the baptistery, were measured as part of these holistic survey and recovery process, to achieve the objective of this research study: the recording of this world historical building through an integral survey and rilievo to decode its significance and symbolism.

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Building climate zones of major marine islands in China defined using two-stage zoning method and clustering analysis
Ziyang Hao, Xiaojing Zhang, Jingchao Xie, Jianping Wang, Jiaping Liu
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 134-147.
Abstract   PDF (1666KB)

The current scheme of building climate zones in China generally assumes that building climate zones of island cities are identical to adjacent land stations. Consequently, building design strategies for island buildings usually refer to those developed for inland cities. This approach has to some extent hindered the energyesaving design and green development of island buildings in China.This research takes a first step on this issue by defining the building climate zones of 36 marine islands over China marine area using two-stage zoning methodology adopted by current building climate zoning standard (GB50178-1993). The meteorological data used for analysis was obtained from the National Climate Center of China over the 30-year period from 1985 to 2014. As comparison, 40 coastal stations which are adjacent to the investigated marine islands were also included in this study. Subsequently a more objective techniquedcluster analysis was operated as an effective supplement to discover the climate characteristics among different observations. The results of both methodologies consistently show that among the 36 islands investigated, the majority of islands located in northern and eastern marine area belong to the same climate zones as their adjacent coastal cities. However, island cities in southern marine area cannot be assigned to any current climate zone, which was demonstrated by its distinctive climate features different from any other sites investigated through cluster analysis as well as different energy use patterns. Thus a new zone was defined to supplement the current building climate zoning scheme to cover marine area of China.

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Impact of building regulations on the perceived outdoor thermal comfort in the mixed-use neighbourhood of Chennai
Ebin Horrison Salal Rajan, Lilly Rose Amirtham
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 148-163.
Abstract   PDF (5613KB)

The population in urban areas is increasing rapidly around the world in most of the cities. In India, this growth has forced the local governments to review the planning norms regularly with the main focus of making an affordable urban living. This resulted in increasing the built density without evaluating the effect of such developments on human thermal comfort. Outdoor microclimate is one of the significant factors that determine the quality of outdoor spaces. This study investigates the potential impact of the built geometry guided by the newly published development control rules of Chennai, India on the various parameters that influence microclimate. The existing and future scenario has been modelled for three locations in a typical mixed-use neighborhood of Chennai. Further, air temperature and relative humidity were measured in three locations on a typical summer month of May 2018. The recorded data was used for validating the simulated model and calibrating the model settings. Most of the studies on outdoor thermal comfort compare a base case scenario and project future scenarios. This paper is a more realistic comparison of outdoor thermal comfort between the actual resultant built environment guided by the new Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019 for selected locations and the existing built geometry which is the outcome of revised development control rules of 2013. The study found a significant reduction of 18 C in mean radiant temperature (Tmrt) and a reduction of 12 C in Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) between the 2013 and the predicted built geometry as per 2019 building rules. Further the duration of extreme heat stress in the Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) scale show a reduction of 3 h during the day time. The study will assist urban planners and designers to include outdoor thermal comfort also as an important factor while developing building rules.

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Cross validation of hygrothermal properties of historical Chinese blue bricks with isothermal sorption experiments
Yonghui Li, Yan Ma, Huarong Xie, Jiaomin Li, Xinjian Li
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 164-175.
Abstract   PDF (2305KB)

The historical, cultural, and social value of heritage buildings mandates special protection of these structures. Blue brick is one kind of the main construction materials of heritage buildings, which is porous material and easily subject to deterioration due to environmental factors such as humidity. Therefore, determining the dynamic moisture content rule of materials under fluctuant ambient humidity is necessary for preventative conservation. This study measured the equilibrium moisture content of eight types of Chinese blue bricks under isothermal conditions with varying humidity levels. The results show that when ambient humidity increased from 10% to 90%, the moisture sorption of historical Chinese blue bricks tripled, which is 3 times greater than that of modern Chinese blue bricks and 10 (at low humidity) to 20 times (at high humidity) greater than that of clay bricks in the international handbook. The results contribute to the improvement of the international building material database and research related to hygrothermal performance of heritage buildings in East Asia.

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Urban design considerations in the environmental assessment of vernacular buildings with timber projections (sachnisi): The case of Nicosia’s historic center
Stavroula Thravalou, Maria Philokyprou
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 176-189.
Abstract   PDF (3236KB)

In this study, the environmental responsiveness of built heritage is closely connected with the aspects of building typology and urban canyon geometry. The focus of this study is on two-story adobe buildings with lightweight timber projections, locally called sachnisi, which are located on the first floor, above the pass-through space on the ground floor, locally known as portico. The field study reveals and maps a total of 246 sachnisi projections across the walled city of Nicosia, Cyprus, a typical Mediterranean area. This research is the first systematic attempt to integrate cultural, historical, and environmental factors and the urban-and building-scale environmental characteristics of vernacular heritage. The findings highlight thermal adaptive opportunities and passive cooling strategies, i.e., natural ventilation, enhanced by aligning the portico axis with the prime wind direction and operating various openings of the sachnisis. The research also demonstrates that the building orientation and the proportions of sachnisis and porticos are insensitive to the street geometry. Thus, functional and morphological parameters (in addition to climatic parameters) are also significant in the configuration of these architectural elements. The originality and academic contribution of this study lie within the systematic and comprehensive methodology followed, which can be applied to other urban heritage sites. The use of innovative, multidisciplinary methods and tools in heritage studies is also recommended.

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Research Article
Investigating the urbanerural integrated town development strategy on the basis of the study of rural forms in Nantong, China
Cheng Ma, Ying Jiang, Kang Qi
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 190-201.
Abstract   PDF (3228KB)

Urbanerural integrated development is the priority task of China due to the wide development gap between cities and villages caused by the most rapid economic growth in history. In the province-city-town-village administrative system of China, town, as the smallest urban form, is the social, economic, and cultural center of a rural area and becomes the key to many development problems. An improved township enhances living standards and creates numerous jobs in rural areas, and it will provide opportunities for urbanerural sustainable integration. This paper introduces three typical rural forms in Nantong and demonstrates the objective fact that rural form is an important manifestation of residents’ living habits, historical context, and the regional characteristics of rural areas. Then, this study aims to find the close inner relationship between rural form and town development through a comparative study of morphological indicators. Therefore, on the basis of full understanding of rural forms, this study proposes that town development from the perspective of serving the countryside, improving the quality of life of rural residents, and protecting the rural landscape texture with regional characteristics is the development mode conforming to the spirit of sustainable development.

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Assessing Linear Urban Landscape from dynamic visual perception based on urban morphology
Xin Jin, Jianguo Wang
Front. Archit. Res.. 2021, 10 (1): 202-219.
Abstract   PDF (4736KB)

As an essential part of the urban landscape, linear urban landscape (LUL) is the interaction between humans and nature, which is closely associated with daily life and brings multiple characteristics to visual perception. Current studies focus on complex models that describe visual perception using static viewpoints, but lossing the continuous and dynamic features of visual perception. This paper provides a general framework that can quantify dynamic visual perception based on urban morphology and improves accuracy in the descriptions of LUL linear spatial characteristics. Based on Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal (Hangzhou urban section), the proposed framework combines the indicators of multiple dimensions to quantify dynamic visual perception and emphasizes the continuity of LUL. To represent the dynamic visual perception and the spatial pattern characteristics of LUL, different evaluation criteria of indicators are set according to landscape scales. To minimize subjectivity and uncertainty caused by subjective cognition and fulfill the landscape pattern under different urban development policies, we set up distinct scenario preference patterns. With appropriate fine-tuning of scenario preference patterns and setting of movement types, the proposed method can be adapted to other LUL projects and aspires to provide a general methodology and scientific guidance for urban planning and landscape management.

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21 articles