VISUAL PERMEABILITY AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF GLENN MURCUTT: Comparing the characteristic complexity of opaque and transparent building facades
Authors: Vaughan, Josephine; Ostwald, Michael J.
Computational fractal analysis calculates a numerical measure of the characteristic visual complexity present in a building’s elevation or plan. In addition to measuring a building’s visual complexity, this method allows for comparisons to be made between different formal properties in the same building. The focus of the application of this method in the present research is the work of Australian architect, Glenn Murcutt. A recurring theme in Australian Regionalism is the relationship between the building interior and the landscape; a relationship which is enabled through the transparency or layering of elements in a building’s façade. Fractal analysis is typically only applied to representations of buildings with opaque surfaces. However, the work of Murcutt presents an opportunity to analyse architecture as it would be perceived in different ways. To do this, the paper computes and then compares the fractal dimensions of two sets of the elevations of ten of Murcutt’s rural houses. The first set treats the building façades as opaque while the second set includes views through open doors and transparent windows or screens. The results of these two tests are then compared to determine if there is, as Regionalist architects maintain, a significant difference in the visual character of the two options.