Review of "Building types and built forms" by Philip Steadman (Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp UK, 2014)
Malfroy, Sylvain (2016). Review of "Building types and built forms" by Philip Steadman (Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp UK, 2014). Urban Morphology, 20, 2. 181-182. Peer reviewed.
The most valuable outcome of the present study definitely resides in the clear distinction conceptually made but also translated into chaptering and typography between the narrative reporting of historical facts and events and the attempt to explain those facts and achievements within an explicit theoretical framework. Since the book title, where ‘building types’ is printed in serifed typeface, whereas ‘built forms’ appears without serif, the author takes care of disentangling the institutional definition of buildings as receptacles of activities (‘activity types’ like hospital, theatre, church, station) and the classification of buildings according to intrinsic formal geometrical properties (‘form types’ like pavilion, block with or without courtyard, detached or semidetached house). The author emphasizes that the relationships between building types and built forms, that is between uses or functions and certain spatial arrangements, remain very flexible through time: a built form developed in the context of museology may get further applications in the realm of medical care, penitentiary punishment or retail marketing; conversely a specific function - let's say housing - may be compatible with the broadest range of built forms including the re-use of built forms initially dedicated to other purposes (e. g. residential lofts in former storehouses a. s. o.).