The changes in the agricultural sector driven by the industrialization process led to farming and breeding specialization, thus calling for additional built spaces meeting new functional needs. This caused the widespread construction of new farm buildings, differing from the traditional ones both in functional and formal terms. The use of industrial building techniques and solutions and new spatial layouts have mainly characterized modern rural architectures. Nowadays, often the design of new farm buildings still subordinates architectural quality and aesthetic features to economic aspects, thus leading to poor landscape consistency and compatibility. The authors refer to the Italian context, where the above-mentioned theme proves particularly topical also due to the high density of rural settlements in broad areas of the national territory. The research presented in this paper is based on the theoretical principle that historic rural buildings, being expression of an accumulation of empirical knowledge broadly associated with high architectural quality, have remarkable potentials to contribute with useful elements to the design of contemporary buildings. The study also moves from the awareness that the design process is necessarily and substantially determined by technological, economic and functional variables. The paper presents the FarmBuiLD model (Farm Building Landscape Design), a research model developed by the authors as a tool for the analysis of the architectural characters of both historical and modern rural buildings, as well as the meta-design of new construction and transformation of contemporary farm buildings. The model consists in an organized series of analytical steps and processing modules, dealing with formal, volumetric and functional issues. In particular, the work focuses on the discussion of the general structure of the model and the identification of a set of synthetic architectural parameters suitable for its implementation. They are functional to read the main physiognomical characters of rural buildings, defined on the basis of a critical analysis of scientific literature. Moreover they are not meant as a way to obtain quantitative data to be translated into design constraints automatically, but, on the contrary, they have been defined as tools for farm building analysis and meta-design within a broader knowledge framework aimed at supporting, stimulating and suggesting design choices. Their implementation in the research model proposed by the authors is likely to usefully contribute to the general goal of defining design criteria for transformation actions meeting the requirements of a renewed landscape quality of rural settlements.
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