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Architectural Design and Regulation

Rob Imrie, Emma Street

ISBN: 978-1-444-39314-9 January 2011 Wiley-Blackwell 376 Pages


From the earliest periods of architecture and building, architects’ actions have been conditioned by rules, regulations, standards, and governance practices. These range from socio-cultural and religious codes seeking to influence the formal structure of settlement patterns, to prescriptive building regulations specifying detailed elements of design in relation to the safety of building structures. In Architectural Design and Regulation the authors argue that the rule and regulatory basis of architecture is part of a broader field of socio-institutional and political interventions in the design and development process that serve to delimit, and define, the scope of the activities of architects. 

The book explores how the practices of architects are embedded in complex systems of rules and regulations. The authors develop the understanding that the rules and regulations of building form and performance ought not to be counterpoised as external to creative processes and practices, but as integral to the creation of well-designed places. The contribution of Architectural Design and Regulation is to show that far from the rule and regulatory basis of architecture undermining the capacities of architects to design, they are the basis for new and challenging activities that open up possibilities for reinventing the actions of architects.



The Authors.



Illustration Credits.


1 Regulation, Rule, and Architecture: Introductory Comments.

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 The autonomy of architecture and the design process.

1.3 The study of regulation and the practices of architects.

1.4 Conclusions.

2 The Rule and Regulation of Building Form and Performance.

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Early settlement and the codification of design practice.

2.3 Spatial codes and the regularisation of design and development.

2.4 Hygienic spaces and the efficiency of design.

2.5 From the regulatory society to the regulatory state.

2.6 Conclusions.

3 Urban Design and the Rise of the (De)Regulatory Society.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Self-activation and the (re-)regulation of design activities.

3.3 Regulating design: an evaluation of leading assumptions.

3.4 Conclusions.


4 Learning about Regulation.

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Discipline, education, and the creation of the architect-subject.

4.3 Pedagogy and the acculturation of architects: evidence from the field.

4.4 Conclusions: towards relational pedagogies.

Case Study A: Rethinking Education: Evidence from a Focus Group.

5 Working with Regulation.

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Systems of control and the management of the design process.

5.3 The interrelationships between regulations and the practices of architects.

5.4 Conclusions.

Case Study B: Straw-Bale Building in the USA: Negotiating the Codes.

6 Risk and the Regulation of the Design Process.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Building form, performance and the regulation of risk.

6.3 Risk, regulation, and architecture: some evidence from the UK.

6.4 Conclusions.

Case Study C: Regulating the Design Process: a Risky Business?


7 The Role of Project Actors in Influencing Design.

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Redefining roles in the UK design and construction industry.

7.3 Contemporary project teams and the rise of the new professional.

7.4 Responding to change: architects’ experiences of a changing profession.

7.5 Conclusions.

Case Study D: Traces of Regulation: the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University.

8 The Coding of Design and Architecture.

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Modernity, urbanism and the revival of urban character.

8.3 The influence of design coding on the practices of architects.

8.4 Conclusions.

Case Study E: The Use of Design Codes in Two English Towns.

9 Regulation and the Practices of Architects: Concluding Thoughts.


Appendix: Research Design and Methods.



“These are minor points about an excellent and ground-breaking book, which will be essential reading for those researching architectural practice, regulation, design professions and planning, and also for those with an interest in discourses of creativity and cultural production.  Architectural design and regulation contributes much to our understanding of the practices and situated knowledges of architects vis-à-vis regulation and so in turn about the ways in which the urban fabric is shaped.”  (Area, 15 August 2013)

  • - one of the first scholarly texts about building regulations and building control
  • - analysis of policy and practice across a range of countries, including the UK, the USA, and New Zealand
  • - uses comparative case studies
  • - discusses practical and policy relevant ideas