Use & Adaptation of Precedents in Architectural Design
Toward an Evolutionary Design Model

By K. Moraes Zarzar
August 2003
Delft University Press
ISBN: 90-407-2418-0
290 pages, Illustrated, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
$69.50 Paper Original


This is a Ph.D. thesis. For centuries, architects have used design precedents in the conception of new design solutions. Whether explicitly - as in the case of Le Corbusier, James Stirling and Jo Coenen - or implicitly - as with J.J.P. Oud, Aldo van Eyk, and Santiago Calatrava - this practice has led to very advantageous efficient, effective, and innovative results. The goal of this research project is to contribute to the construction of computational tools to facilitate this practice by developing a model that grasps significant characteristics of the design process as it employs precedents. The model is built drawing an analogy from the natural evolution. The intention is not to represent the processes that take place in the architects' minds but rather their behavior as this is manifested in their design products.

The project draws from the multidisciplinary methodology of design tool development of the Design Knowledge Systems Research Center. It employs an analogy with Darwinian evolutionary theory in combination with recent theories of genetics and embryology. The criteria of usefulness in picturing the phenomenon in architecture determine the focus on particular aspects of the analogy. The research also uses three cases studies from the architectural domain: J.J.P. Oud, to identify adequacy criteria for the model; Le Corbusier, to Santiago Calatrava, to test the model. The research develops a pre-computational qualitative model that provides insights into the process of use of design precedents and adequacy criteria for an analytical model to succeed in architectural practice.


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