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Building Technology
 
Structure as an expression of architecture
Hi,

Need help in my thesis topic, "Structure as an Expression of Architecture". In this, I'm focusing on structural aesthetic and rationality v/s expression in architecture using different structure.

Structure itself is a vast topic so my focus is on aesthetics that how the building is going to look, using structure as an expression. Please guide me how can I go about it.
Muhammad Fahad Qureshi
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Structure as an expression of architecture
The outcome of any building will be the result of materials used to build it. As it is, the materials that define the structural system and hence also the aesthetic. Steel frame? RCC frame? Shell systems? Adobe or brick? Or the fusion of some or all?

Rationality and expressiveness will be resultant of of matters of buget if looked at practically. Ideally speaking though, in the structural aesthetic I think, structure is also working as the facade, the defining elements for spaces and so on (e.g. Pompidou Centre). So, the question of rationality v.s. expression will also be a question of over-structuring? Maybe like the usage of I-beams on the facade of Lake Shore Drive apartments by Mies van der Rohe?
Ahmed Asad Zuberi
Structure as an expression of architecture
Hi Ahmed,

That's true, so, if one can use structure more than just the matter of safety and make it expressive, one could give a building more meaning so that any layman can understand what's happening.

I'm talking about didactic structures / buildings, for example, a bridge. It is more efficient because it is available to everyone, even an illiterate person can enjoy a bridge. So, expression in architecture can change the nature of building and it has majorly to do with aesthetic. Or, one can prove that architecture that is an honest expression of its structure achieves a higher aesthetic than a building that conceals its structural reality.

Thanks for your feedback, and I'm looking forward for more...
Muhammad Fahad Qureshi
Structure as an expression of architecture
You should be careful when you speak of a bridge, because a bridge is a structure that with minimum achieves a maximum. A bridge with its structural design may be expressive, but I doubt that it will be overstructured, ever. Overstucturing would cause weight increase and might compromise the span.

Concious expression of any material will in fact change the 'nature' of the building, may it be structure or facing. Aesthetics, remember, is a relative term and varies from person to person.

On the other hand, being 'didactic' is more factual, it is not based opinions. It is a result of concious effort and observation. Think of structures being didactic, Frank Gehry is an example of an architect that has tell-tale stories of his buildings' construction process.
Ahmed Asad Zuberi
Structure as an expression of architecture
What I'm talking about is not something like Frank Gehry, where he hides the structure and uses it just to stand his forms. My point is of building being didactic, has more to do, the way it gives you confidence that it's not going to fall, or satisfy one who is experiencing it, which also contributes to aesthetic part.

And again, it's true that aesthetics varies from person to person. But you have to draw line somewhere. For example, Nervi's project, the Small Sports Palace, in which the load of shell is transfered to 'Y' shaped arms. It gives you the feeling of stability and confidence. The aesthetic of structure in architecture is where you can design a structure and make it a part of your design.
Muhammad Fahad Qureshi
Structure as an expression of architecture
"...My point is of a building being didactic has more to do with the way it gives you confidence that it's not going to fall..."

Buildings can be didactic in more than one way. 'Didactic' means to inform, to teach, to communicate and it varies from building to building and from architect to architect. Frank Gehry was an example, as Nervi's project is one too. When being didactic, all designs do not pass on the same message. Some might be expressing skin, maybe levels of transparancy, or even questioning stability. Being 'didactic' does not equate to structural stability, it is broader than that. You may choose to focus on stability, but remember that stability will be the subset of 'didactic architecture'

And please note that Frank Gehry does not 'hide' structure. He plays with structure and skin(cladding). The structural frames --however seemingly haphazard they may be -- are a part of his integrated architectural and structural design.

Another example you might study is Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The 20 ft cantalevered porch is a an integral design element in the project.
Ahmed Asad Zuberi
Structure as an expression of architecture
Hi,

I'm Rimmy and presently in 4th year, doing a dissertation on the topic "Role of Structures in Expressing Architectural Aesthetics.

I feel that any object existing today is appreciated for its appearance whether good or bad, and it is only available because its structure is standing.

Moreover, structure is vital in acting as a facade and is vivdly experienced in the works of architects and engineers like Pier Luigi Nervi, Santiago Calatrava, Nicholas Grimshaw etc.

I need help to go through the process of recognizing the hypothesis of the study and go about it. Please help.
Rimmy Bhatia
Structure as an expression of architecture
Hi, you should see the projects of Pierluigi Nervi, where the form is always related to the function.
Joe Zaatar
Structure as an expression of architecture
Muhammad, Other areas to look at:- "Expressionism" in Germany, "Art Neuveau" in France and Austria, Gaudi in Spain, "De Stihl" in Holland and Chernihkov in Russia. These are all about the turn of the centuary (1900) and Nervi was part of a similarly young movement in Italy but which focused on monumental structural architecture. :)))
Frank John Snelling
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