Built Works Registry: 10 January 2015

We are excited to announce the launch of the Built Works Registry (BWR), a single shared repository of architectural works. In the past, numerous organizations have attempted to catalog built works, but each have used their own standards. By opening BWR to the community, the project aims to create a shared community infrastructure for cataloging the built environment. The design is comprised of an articulated structure to simplify search, ease browsing, and encourage contributions.

The most prominent feature of the website is the map: a Mercator projection overlaid with interactive circles. The circles, representing regional clusters of available records, can be exploded into smaller clusters through zooming or clicking. As the circles become increasingly smaller, individual flags representing the built works appear.

Interestingly, there are also limitations to the current map. If BWR achieves its goal of cataloging all of the world’s built works, the entire map would be obscured with black circles and would require the user to zoom and enlarge the map. In a twist reminiscent of Borges’s On Exactitude in Science, the map would approach uselessness.

Additionally, as with most digital maps, the Mercator projection leads to a dramatic skewing of size (up to 15%) towards the poles. In the case of BWR, it can be argued that this is an inefficient use of map space since most built works are not at the polar extremes. Other types of maps such the Dymaxion map or the Cahill-Keyes projection could be explored as alternative ways of exploring the built surface.