Does rule follows rule? Linking pre-modern legal building rules across places, cultures and over time




Code   .   2022.05944.CEECIND

Start   .   2023
Duration   .   72 meses
Principal Investigator   .  Sandra MG Pinto (CHAM)





Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



CHAM — Centro de Humanidades



Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa


Legal building regulations play a crucial role in architectural and urban planning practices. However, their analytical and historical scrutiny remains largely unexplored. This project aims to address this historiographical gap by adopting a comparative perspective to understand how building regulations from the past have evolved. In short, the project seeks to establish and explore the interconnections between pre-modern building rules from various countries and cultures through networked reading. The project assumes that a network of rules, linking various sets of building regulations, makes it possible to find a layer of complexity inaccessible to case studies and thus stimulate new inquiries. It intends to determine to what extent the evolution of legal building regulations was driven by legal transplants and the reception of rules from different places and cultures, rather than by parallel and independent development. To substantiate this argument the project employs an interdisciplinary approach between Architectural History and Comparative Legal History, as well as Digital Humanities techniques, specifically through the application of historical network analysis to pre-modern building rules.



The main goal and outcome of the project will be an online platform that compiles, links, and makes available and reusable pre-modern building rules from the westernmost region of Europe, present-day Portugal, Spain, France, and England, due to their geographical proximity and proven cultural interactions. To obtain long-term readings and reverse the legal sedimentation, the project starts with the nineteenth-century rules, which are closer to the modern ones and easier to link through written evidence and legal doctrine, and traces back to the medieval rules. Understanding the interconnections between legal building rules will contribute to the empirical knowledge of the circulation processes of legal-building ideas and reveal dynamics of change. It will also shed light on legal building concepts and terminology, stressing the role of law in the building practices of the past, many of which are still reflected in the current built environment.







 Sandra MG Pinto  .   Coordenator