The sectors' paradigm : a study of the spatial and functional nature of modernist housing in Northeast Brazil
Research on domestic architecture using the space syntax method has suggested that while most vernacular traditions are characterised by 'genotypical' consistencies in the relation between spatial configuration and functional 'ends', such consistencies are usually lacking in experimental modernist architecture, where instead a consistency in spatial composition gives rise to 'genotype of means' rather than to 'genotypes of ends'. In Brazil, however, modernist housing became a established tradition and therefore there may be in them spatio-functional consistencies as found in vernacular tradition. The thesis examines how far this is the case, based on the fact that the dominant idea about the spatial organisation of the modernist dwelling was that it should be organised into spatially distinct 'sectors', within which similar activities could be clustered. This concept provided a pervasive underlying diagram, or paradigm, for housing organisation. No studies have been done however of how this paradigm worked out in practice. This thesis investigates this question with respect to a manifestation of this idea in the modernist architecture of Recife, between 1930 and 1980. The thesis first diagnoses the existence of a 'sectors' paradigm' in a pilot sample of modernist houses, then extends the investigation to a larger sample to see how prevalent it is and what different spatial forms it takes. The thesis then looks at historical houses and shows that a sectors' model can also be detected in them, but quite different spatially and functionally. It shows that both the internal form of the sectors and the way they are linked together are the key determinant for differentiating domestic activities and household members in both historical and modern dwellings. The thesis concludes that, through the methodological innovation of sectors' analysis, spatio-functional 'genotypes of ends' can be shown to be present in Recife's modernist dwellings, but that also they can be detected in vernacular houses, suggesting that a first layer should be added to the syntactic analysis of vernacular buildings.