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The Urbanist contextualist Building Form Theory (UcBFT)

With Heyaw Terefe, PhD
AW Session 39
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The research has the objective of recommending a feasible and effective instrument that can reduce the gap in managing the failures of the Building Form Design Market (BFDM) in exploiting the opportunities and addressing the challenges of Building Form Design for the quantity and quality of Publicly Accessible Domain (the PAD) of the city. The PAD which includes not only the domain under public control and may be physically and visually accessible to All but also the domain under private control which may be visually accessible to All is an important input for the improvement of life quality for the population, is, therefore a national development agenda, and it is the SOUL of the city.

Properly viewed Building Form Design is a result of the Building Form Design Market which includes the developer and its TOR, on the demand side, and the designers and the design evaluators on the supply side. Building Form Design has the opportunities for contributing to the space quantity of the PAD and the challenges of affecting its quality. But it can fail to exploit the opportunities and address the challenges unless it is managed by an adequate Failure Management System.

In the literature, an adequate Building Form Design Failure Management System includes regulation by using a Centralized Urban Design (CUD) and/or technical enablement for doing decentralized urban design (for example at block level) and/or financial enablement.

However, data indicate that the Building Form Design Failure Management Systems in Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian urban centers have serious gaps: they are often limited to planning regulations and local development plans which do not have adequate focus on the quantity and quality of the PAD. In addition, they have technical and financial capacity limitations to prepare Centralized Urban Designs for regulation and to enable the market financially and technically by decentralized (block level) urban design. Therefore, there is a need for research to develop a feasible and effective instrument to reduce the Building Form Design Failures’ management gap in such contexts.
The research is, therefore, done in order to respond to this need which is likely to be also applicable to other developing countries like Ethiopia. It recommends the option of Technical Enablement of the Building Form Design Market, by the Building Design Failure Management System, so that the Market can do a Parcel Level Urban Design together with Building Form Design, i.e. so that the Market can shift from mere Building Form Design to Urbanist Building Form Design. In addition, it recommends focusing on the objective opportunities and challenges of Building Form Design for the PAD in order to match the Building Form Design Failure Management Task with the technical and financial limitations of the Management System, i.e. it recommends making the instrument Contextualist in addition to Urbanist. Technical enablement of the market, unlike regulation, requires informing the market objectively on the types of building forms that can exploit the opportunity of space contribution and can address the challenge of quality for the PAD. Evaluation of the existing building form theories by using these requirements has, however, indicated that there are gaps in:

• Completeness of the opportunities and challenges of building form design for the PAD; and
• Indication of building form types

Thus, the study focused on:

• Filling these gaps and on developing an Urbanist-contextualist Building Form Theory (UcBFT) that can be used by the Building Form Design Market Failure Management System to manage the failures of the market and

• On testing the feasibility and effectiveness of the theory by collecting data from the Management System, the Building Form Design Market, and realized building designs in Addis Ababa.

Accordingly, a building form theory that suggests about 31 building form types was developed. The theory was first tested by collecting data mainly from realized building designs in Addis Ababa starting from the establishment period of the city up to the present. The findings were later first presented to a group tasked with the assignment of preparing signage and facade color regulations by the Management System and later to members of the Building Form Design Market on two occasions.
Preliminary findings based on data from the Management System and the realized building designs indicate that the theory has a good chance of being feasible and effective. This has led to the preliminary conclusions that:

• the solutions to some of the urban and Architectural problems in developing countries like Ethiopia are likely to be, not only practical, but also theoretical, and

• that, contrary to popular view, theory, science, and academic work are not the opposites of practice and the practical; they are rather what makes practice and the practical work.

The findings have also led to the following recommendations

• The Building Form Design Failure Management System must enable the Building Form Design Market to shift from the Parcelist to the Urbanist Architecture approach by using the Urbanist-contextualist Building Form Theory (UcBFT) and to launch the Urbanist Architecture Movement (UAM)

• The Building Form Design Market shall be motivated to be enabled and to support the Urbanist Architecture Movement (UAM) which is pro-SOUL of the city, pro-improvement of life quality, and pro-national development

• The AEA shall realize that the development of the Scientific component of the profession (or research) is lagging far behind the development of the professional component (Design and Construction) in Ethiopia and take actions such as:

  • Planning to address the gap in the Association’s strategic plan because the problem is strategic and – Making institutional arrangements to motivate research and researchers and expand the contextualist knowledge base of the profession.

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© June, 2024 Ketema Journal

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