Compliant Architecture Regulatory Limits and the Materiality of Risk

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“Compliant Architecture” is a project that combines three strands: historical research into the emergence of building regulations; design research illustrating the limits they pose for practitioners; and teaching-led research exploring the architectural potential of these limits. In this paper, Liam Ross offers a digest of this project, conducted at the University of Edinburgh since 2009. Ross inverts the ubiquitous critique of regulation among architects, suggesting that the disciplinary challenge posed by regulation is not the limits it sets, but the freedoms it offers. Ross advocates an architectural practice that works with and through regulatory limits to dramatize, rather than negate, the inherent risk of building, since it is only through exposure to risk that we develop subjectivity. The author makes this argument through a detailed study of a specific regulation, British Standard 8213-1: 2004. Windows, doors and rooflights, accompanied by diagrammatic studies and speculative window designs. Several student projects supervised by Ross explore the design potential of additional regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-118
Number of pages29
JournalCandide: Journal for Architectural Knowledge
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Architecture
  • Regulation
  • Risk


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