This article brought the concept of defining the way we present architecture, the idea of diagramming, notation, and their relationships to architecture.
Allen brought the dilemma of notation our architectural drawings, by defining architecture as “a curious mixture” as Goodman said, architecture is a mix of art and science, creativity and rationality, freedom and constrains and by finding the way to notate that goes beyond seeing architecture as “scaled-down pictures of buildings”.
Architects are using diagrams as a way to balance between mathematics, as where they describe abstract quantities, and the art of form, which is the variable aspect in architecture. Using diagrams as tool for clarification or explanation in architecture started evolving and occupying a new position as type of architecture.
Architect sees notation as “… Inputs and outputs may be distinct in character. They designate and reproduce new configurations of time and space by of a system that has its own logic” (Allen, 42-43). As such, notation works as an approach that resembles a condition of reality, and having a “system that has its own internal logic”, at the end, the real and virtual will combined in the way we present our drawings.
Then he started to distinguish between diagrams and notation. First, by defining Diagram as a graphic tool with formal implications, “a figure drawn in a manner that the geometrical relations between parts of the figure illustrate relations between objects” James Clark Maxwell, “the diagram is the graphic assemblage that specifies relationship between activity and form” (Allan 51). In other hand, notations participate in shared notions of interpretation, they are not necessarily visual. So Diagrams, contrary to notation, specifies relationships between various aspects of building.
Then he introduced the concept of diagram architecture. This is an architecture that relates to the idea of the diagram in a way that adopts the principles of diagramming “…is an architecture that establishes a loose fit of program and form…” (Allen 54).
Finally, Allen discusses the concept of the illegible city. If we describe the city as a complex system, in a way we are unable to read the context of the contemporary urban. We must be able to develop tools to describe these inherent complexities, by doing so, will inherent our diagrammatic control.
If drawings and notations depends on the author and diagrams are the relationship between objects, relationship between the form and activities, how can the architects “the authors” know when the diagram is efficient and expressive?