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A Key Design Role In Tectonic Architecture History Essay


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The following thesis seeks to identify and examine the relationship between tectonic architecture and materials. Although materials are all around us; we often do not take the time to examine them; to truly reflect on their inclusion, and so there very presence is often taken for granted. In order to emphasise the importance of materials in architecture; this research question focused on discussing How do materials play a key design role in tectonic architecture?

The thesis used two main methodologies. The first was a literature review, which includes a comprehensive review of the literature that was instrumental in addressing the main topics, materials and tectonic architecture. The second was a model based study which focused on a particular building. It examines how a change in materials could affect the design of a building; and thus emphasises the key role materials play in tectonic architecture.

The findings of the research highlighted the fact that materials do indeed play a key role in the design of tectonic buildings; and in some cases they can be the main driver for the initial design. However it was also established that there are many other contributory factors which also affect the overall design. Factors such as the structure, the crafting of construction, innovation, the use of cutting edge technology, the collaboration of the design team as they work in synergy with the architect, and finally the methodologies of learning by doing or facilitating education through the teaching of others.

Definitions / Glossary

Tectonic Architecture - A non-monolithic structure, assembled using different materials, techniques and resources in the act of construction making and revealing [1] .

Stereotomic Architecture - A self-supporting monolithic structure composed from articulated solid elements.

Atectonic - A combination of tectonic and sterotomic building techniques.

The crafting of construction - This is not just a joint or a construction detail; it is the crafting together of materials and surface through bespoke means.

Green design - Philosophy that treats environmental attributes as design objectives and not as constraints.

High-tech - Refers to technology that is at the cutting edge or the most advanced technology currently available.

Honesty - The notion that a structure shall display its "true" purpose and not be decorative

Materials - "The matter from which a thing is or can be made" [2] 

Constructivist teaching methodologies - "Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction rather than passively receiving information" [3] .

"All works of architecture involve a creative interplay between ideas and materials to which both makers and critics have repeatedly been willing to assign ethical value" [4] 

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

"Materials are not trendy; they are a necessity for the realization of creativity" [5] 

Looking around the built environment, one can see materials are everywhere; yet they are not often questioned; when were they invented? How are they picked? How are they used? Why were they put together in a particular way? Were the correct materials selected? In addition to these questions architects must also address issues around purpose and design; can materials be the driving force behind their designs or are they insignificant, merely an aesthetical feature of the building. Attempting to delve into and address some of these questions has led to the research of this thesis; namely 'How do materials play a key design role in tectonic architecture'?

This thesis aims to understand tectonic architecture and the role of materials in the design of a building. One has a basic understanding of what these words mean from the glossary however there is a need to explore where they have come from and how they have and will affect architecture. In exploring this idea there is a need to acknowledge, where tectonic architecture and materials began, how they have evolved over time, and going forward what direction are they headed in?

The thesis shall discuss a number of these issues in order to address the research question. The paper shall examine the following main chapters; Joint / The crafting of construction, the tectonic innovation of large span, 20th century modern tectonic architects, 21st century tectonic environmental architecture and a model based study.

Research methods

This thesis is jointly done through two research methods. The first consists of the literature review, and was under taken to gain an in depth understanding of tectonic architecture and the complexity of materials. The second involves a model based research which was conducted through the analysis of drawings in order to understand the effect of a material change on a tectonic building.

The first five chapters will analyse the key role materials play on tectonic architecture. It will look at both the theory and the practical side of this subject; with analytical drawings to further develop this principle. This study will be carried out via secondary research, comprising of books, journals, newspaper articles, electrical journals, published conferences and websites. Research will be carried out on both subjects, starting with the design and building of the mere hut to the development of the contemporary tectonic architecture.

Chapters six will be an in-depth study in to a model based research, where the question will be asked if materials do play a key role in tectonic architecture and if there was variations in materials would the building design and space changed. The analysis will aim to show how important materials are to the building design with 3 dimensional drawings.

2.0 Joint / The crafting of construction

"Often it is the expressiveness of the jointing which humanizes structures and gives them their friendly feel." [6] 

In Greek, the term tectonic comes from the work tekton, which suggests carpenter or builder. In the fifth century, the meaning evolved into the role of the tekton. This led to the emergence of the master builder or architekton. Kenneth Frampton observed that Adolf Heinrich Borbein claimed this meaning would eventually change to an aesthetic rather than a technological category.

Frampton noted in his book 'Studies in Tectonic Culture' that Karl Otfied Muller, in his third edition of 'Handbuch der Archaologie der Kunst', that tektones was specialized, in reference to people in construction or cabinet makers which used a specifically functional or dry joint, though this did not include clay and metal working in the meaning. This gave the definition of tectonic as the joint or the joining through the construction process.

In 1851 Gottfried Semper, published his book, 'The Four Elements of Architecture' (Die vier Elemente der Baukunst). He based some of his elements on a Caribbean hut (see figure 1) that he saw at the great exhibition of 1851 and he divided the dwelling into four elements, "1 the earthwork, 2 the hearth, 3 the framework (including the roof) and 4 the lightweight skin or membrane" [7] . On the base of these four elements, Semper classed the building crafts into two fundamental different procedures: the tectonics of the lightweight frame work and the stereotomic of the base.

Semper illustrated the use of the stereotomic base where mud-brick and stone were placed on the ground, on to which the lightweight framed structure sat. Frampton considered the stereotomic base to be load bearing masonry, weather stone and mud brick. He noted the importance of the lightweight framed structure, where he saw the creation of the knot as a fundamental element in enabling the tying together of the lightweight components. The knot led to the securing of the frame and was perceived by Semper as a complex jointing of construction. Around the world, this technique can be visibly seen, where rope is used to knot lightweight structures together; highlighting how locally available materials were utilized to build huts. African tribal cultures used a wide range of vertical screen walls where the rope knot was the key construction element. The Gogo house in Tanzania was built from tree branches where a rope knot was employed to hold the structure together while mud was built around the structure. In comparison to this, the Kuba hut found in the southeast of the Congo was erected using woven mats, again with all joints being knotted together with rope.

Semper highlighted the development of knots into a weaving process, which subsequently led to the creation of buildings fabric. Buildings such as the Bedouin tribal huts were assembled using locally sourced materials in a weaving manner in order to build strong huts; as oppose to those which were built with knots. Woven walls were a form of "wattle construction" [8] , which was described by Allen Noble as "vertical stakes, each fitted into a hole or slot in one horizontal and sponge into a groove or another hole in the other member of the framework. Materials such as osiers, reeds or thin strips of oak were most common" [9] . This style of wattle construction is still in use today in the building of fences; however it did lead to the advancement in wattle and daub construction, which can be seen in many vernacular buildings around the world today.

Cherie Wendelken in his article on The Tectonics of Japanese Style: Architect and Carpenter in the Late Meiji Period noted that Japanese architecture had great symbolical structures which were primarily tectonic, whereby locally sourced material such as grasses and bamboo pillars were being knotted together. The 15th century Japanese house was constructed with a woven façade. These houses were built in a post and beam framed manner with woven infilling walls which allowed for flexible sliding screens. Semper's, The Four Elements of Architecture, can be seen clearly in these houses as the stereotomic base which was built of boulder footings, a lightweight timber structure sat on these foundations and finally a lightweight skin was applied. Some of these structures would be built every 20 years as there time cycle only lasted this length. The most celebrated of these structures being the monumental Naiku and Geku.

Pre 1800 tectonic architecture illustrates that the joint or the crafting of construction was the most important and innovative aspect of tectonic architecture with materials playing a key role in the design of the building. This can be seen from the reed-built houses of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq (Materials, Form and Architecture for images p13). These materials were normally locally sourced and the construction methods were tried and tested over long periods of time, as was the case with most vernacular architecture of that era.

3.0 The tectonic innovation of large spans

Gothic churches and cathedrals were noted by Frampton as having "the idea that with the combining vaulted and trabeated structural forms in a new spatial unity; on the other, it stretched the art of reinforced masonry construction to its technological limits" [10] . This led to the innovation of large non-load bearing façades in gothic architecture. This innovation in structure went on to influence many architects of the 19th century, including Augustus, Welby, Northmore, Pugin and Viollet Le Duc.

Voorthuis highlights how Pugin claimed "You can decorate construction…but you cannot construct decoration" [11] and thereby hides the true construction of a building. Pugin had a great understanding of material's and craftsmanship. He himself used innovative and experimental techniques when it came to craftsmanship and designing building such as the Church of St. Augustine, Ramsgate or St. Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy. However Voorthuis emphasised how Pugin would insist that if mouldings were to appear on a building, they need to do so for a reason, such as to stop weathering of an area rather than for aesthetic reasons; and this was his use of tectonic architecture. Frampton pointed this out in the fabric build-up of St. Pauls in London (167-1710). Where he commented on Pugin's proposed drawings of the church "a section through a pointed church compared to the hidden buttresses built into the fabric" [12] (fig ??) or ornamented mediaeval truss roof compared to that of the concealed truss hidden by a suspended ceiling (fig ??). While Pugin worked on the innovation in craft and his idea, that mouldings were to appear for reasoning, Eugene Emmanuel Viollet le Duc worked on the advancement in materials.

Viollet Le Duc was a French architect and theorist famous for his interpretive restorations of medieval buildings and also for his writing advocating that materials should be used honestly. He began his career with twelve commissions for the restoration of medieval monuments. He encouraged the use of different materials with new techniques and resources, in contrast to the work of William Morris and his art and crafts movement, which promoted traditional crafts. Henry Van Brunt in his book Discourse on architecture noted that Viollet Le Duc was more concerned with the "economy of structure than the theorists of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Viollet-le-Duc pursues lightweight hollow or reticulated metal construction as an agent for transforming every conceivable tectonic element, from window shutters to metal roofs" [13] . This interest in metal construction led to Viollet le Duc using wrought and cast iron which promoted lightweight tectonic framed structures and was a unique resource from which 19th century architecture would developed from.

His experimentation with metal led to the development of an iron network of vaulting and can be seen in his octagonal hall design. Frampton stated that the "octagonal hall is organized with its polygonal roof structure and statically determinate iron members displayed the principles of structural rationalism for the first time in construction" [14] . The octagonal hall was to be a 3000 seat hall spanning 140 feet, illustrating iron works and innovative techniques, which tended to pushed the boundaries of architecture and materials to their limits. His idea of cast iron framed structures was to be firstly realized by the English landscape architect Joseph Paxton and Anatole de Baudot.

Paxton won the design competition for the Great Exhibition of 1851 (fig ??) designing a building measuring over 92,000m2 . He was assisted in his work by two engineers, Fox and Herderson, who came up with a system of structural elements. The building was completed in nine months due to its innovative modular design and construction techniques which used the largest glass panels available and the most up to date technology in order to forge and connect elements. Another major factor that contributed to the fast building time was the collaboration of each person involved, from the architect down to the craftsman.

De Baudot was seen as Viollet Le Duc's predecessor. Frampton noted that he worked in a similar style to that of Viollet le Duc, using cast iron columns to equally express his tectonic architecture in the world exhibitions held in Paris in 1878 and 1889. These two significant projects, "one circular, the other rectangular, were attempts to realize Viollet-le-Duc's iron network vaulting on a grand scale" [15] . However they never lived up to the grand scale of Galerie des Machines 1889 designed by Ferdinand Dute which had a 180 foot span. The building was a controversial design for steel construction however iron was used as Robert Thorne notes that John W. Stamper emphasised "The principal material of the building's structure was to have been steel, but the decision was made at the last minute to use iron instead. Steel was abandoned on the two-fold ground of expense and the necessity of hastening the execution of work" [16] .

Georg Heuser, and Otto Wagner were both great writers in the promotion of architectural realism as a matter of principle in the late 1800's. Heuser saw the development of architecture innovation rather than decorative style. Frampton indicated that Heuser "seems to have been among the first to acclaim the riveted steel frame as the new industrial vernacular of the machine age" [17] . To the contrary Richard Weston wrights "For Ruskin, industrial production was the work of the Devil, and cast or machine work that imitated craft (hand) production - what he called operative deceit" [18] .

4.0 Tectonic reinforced concrete

"Bring out the nature of the materials; let their nature intimately into your scheme" [19] 

The latter half of the 19th century, also saw the development in structural framing concrete. In 1890, engineer Paul Cottancin came up with his reinforced masonry system known as ciment arme. This system was noted to be labour intensive and became obsolete 17 years later due to Francois Hennebique's patent and his reinforced concrete design known as beton arme. This outcome reversed tectonic principles allowing the transgression of a stereotomic material to a tectonic frame.

Frampton stated that after "Louis Vicat's perfection of hydraulic cement around 1800, concrete began to be used in a new way" [20] . However he mentions how Joseph Moniers began building prefabricated flower pots and sewer pipes from reinforced wire and cement. It was not until Francois Hennebique, a French engineer and self-educated builder, began using perfected reinforced concrete in his construction that it became popular. Douglas McBeth, in his book Francois Hennebique-Reinforced concrete pioneer, emphasised that Hennebique's system started out as fireproofing to protect iron beams. However he soon realised that the floor system would be more economical if the iron was used only where the slab was in tension, while it could rely on the concrete in compression. The Hennebique system was a simple erection of timber formwork around steel, after which concrete could be poured.

While Hennebique was perfecting his methods, De Baudot whom was Viollet Le Duc's predecessor was working on St. Jean de Montmartre. Frampton observed that De Baudot wanted to exploit a method that could combine light construction with bonded brickwork, as he pointed out, "the result was a somewhat oriental, diagonally ordered system of vaults rising from thin brick walls and piers enclosing narrow channels of interior spaces" [21] . This would bring Viollet Le Duc's idea of cast iron vaulting to a new innovative method of brick vaulting. However Hennebique system began to be widely used and was further developed by architects such as Auguste Perret.

Auguste Perret's architectural career was bound around the principle of reinforced concrete and Karla Britton, in her book Auguste Perret noted that Perret claimed "reinforced concrete frame construction is the ultimate structural material" [22] . Perret's went to the Ecole des Beaux arts school where he argued between practical and theory in architectural education. However as Frampton highlighted, he chose the practical as he left abruptly before submitting a final project. He started to design and build one of the first apartment blocks from reinforced concrete construction. Nonetheless, Perret was concerned for a building to be structurally honest and with this, used a visible framework as can be seen in his Garage Marboeuf. His work was noted for establishing concrete as an acceptable architectural material in the 20th century. It was noted by Britton that Perret and Frank Lloyd Wright attempted fair faced reinforced concrete at virtually the same time and both had similar results.

5.0 20th Century Modern Tectonic Architects

"Construction is the means; architecture is the result" [23] 

Frank Lloyd Wright left school in 1887 without finishing his degree, and moved soon afterwards to Chicago where he found work with Adler and Sullivan. Wright was impressed with Sullivan's ornamental design. Louis Sullivan was influenced by the idea 'from and function'. However his statement was "form ever follows function"' [24] . Sullivan took Wright under his wing and acted as a mentor to him in his early career. Frampton stated; "Wright's early domestic architecture, executed in wood, is invariably conceived and machined according to a repetitive modular order and framed" [25] . Sullivan also introduced Wright to Celtic iconography and Celtic textiles. Following on from this induction, Wright became heavily influenced by textiles. He visited the Columbian exhibition of 1893, 'the Ho-o-den', and began turning his attentions to Japanese architecture. He visited Japan in 1917 and worked there until 1922. While working in Japan, Frampton noted that Wright studied tea houses, religious Japanese architecture, and the Horyu-ji shrine. Upon his return in 1922, Wright brought back many ideas, such as heated floors and modular part construction. However it was woven façade and concrete that mostly inspired him as he stated "Aesthetically, concrete has neither song nor any story" [26] . In 1921 Wright finally looked at the idea of wire-reinforced concrete blocks that were pre-cast with a pattern on the outer face. He would later call this the textile block. He first used this system in the Aliace Millard house in Passadena California. Terry Patterson in his book Frank Lloyd Wright noted that he would make a double coursed wall, one internally and one externally for the cooling and heating of the house. After the accomplishment of both system and house, Wright refers to himself as a "weaver" [27] stating his textile blocks were a woven skin/façade. Wright follows this up with a statement in his book Frank Lloyd Wright Writings and Buildings "I finally had found simple mechanical means to produce a complete building that looks the way the machine made it, as much at least as any fabric need look…Standardisation as the soul of the machine, here for the first time may be seen in the hand of the architecture" [28] .

Semper, in 'The Four Elements of Architecture', spoke about the textile and its comparison to the art of enclosures or the woven façade. This can be seen from the wattle construction, or Japanese vernacular houses, but now can also be seen in the development and the influence in Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. There was also the development in the joint or crafting of construction. This came from the pre 1800's work and the great iron works of the 19th century which was advanced by architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Carlo Scarpa.

Mies van der Rohe saw details and joints as one of the foremost important elements in his architecture, as his famously states, "God is in the details". Mies started his career by using brick on such projects as his Brick Country house Project going to great lengths in this endeavor. Philip Johnson in his book 'Mies van der Rohe' noted this as he states; "he calculated all dimensions in brick lengths and occasionally went so far as to separate the under-fired long bricks from the over-fired short ones, using the long in one direction and the short in the other" [29] . Mies gradually started to use other materials, such as steel, marble and large sheets of glass. The qualities of different materials became a leading idea in how Mies designed his buildings, from a stereotomic mass to a skeleton tectonic frame. When one looks carefully at the detail in Mies's buildings, he had a great understanding and respect for the qualities of materials. As while he was looking for stone for the Barcelona Pavilion, he knew that one could not move marble from a quarry in winter because it is wet inside and freezing conditions could cause it to break. With this in mind, he had to find a dry material and eventually found onyx blocks of a certain size and proportion, and from this he designed the pavilion to be twice the height as it was originally considered and developed the plan from there. Frampton acknowledged that from 1926 to 1933, Mies had "three main considerations; firstly, in the underlying aesthetic intention, secondly, in the essence of materials to hand, and thirdly, in the institutional status of the work" [30] . A change in Mies work can be seen when he shifted the column from circular to I or H. He began to express the joint in the column and beams more often. This transformation brought him back to a shift to more traditional tectonics. This expression can be clearly seen in the Farnsworth House and the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin. Frampton states, "Within these parameters, the art of building for Mies meant the embodiment of the spirit in the banality of the real; the spiritualization of technique through tectonic form" [31] .

6.0 21st century Tectonic Environmental Architecture

"Materials are not trendy; they are a necessity for the realization of creativity" [32] 

Materials loom largely as one of the most discussed ideas of contemporary architecture. Victoria Ballard Bell, in her book Materials for Design explains that "Materials should inspire designers to think of materials as a palette from which to imagine an idea or concept that can be realised with the use of materials" [33] . This idea can be seen in such building as the Laminata Glass house in Leerdam, The Netherlands, the horse stable (Ghost 9) in Nova Scotia Canada or Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. However how are these materials chosen?

Bell outlines that material selection is one of the utmost important decisions an architect must undertake. She notes more often than not, materials are not addressed till the end of the design process or even during the creation of a construction document for a building design as if there are sometimes mere afterthoughts in various projects. Lisa Wastiels has the view that every material selection should aim to fulfil a simple need, to identify the best material for a particular application. However in order to identify the best materials, it is important to first understand the criteria used to select those materials in the first instance. Wastiels research broke material selection consideration into four identified categories, context, manufacturing process, material aspect and experience (see figure). However from interviews in Wastiels research, some interesting information appeared. It was highlighted that building codes, regulations and standards are major factors in the choosing of materials today. Further to this Richard Weston in his book Materials, Form, and Architecture states, "in addition to their traditional interest in the structural/constructional and aesthetic qualities of materials, designers must now also consider their embodied energy (in production, transportation, and on site), potential for recycling, and renewability as a resource" [34] . Bell remarks that materials are now being chosen for their green credentials to be sustainable and sensitive to our environment. This idea has been used by many tectonic architects such as Glenn Murcutt and Renzo Piano.

Australian architect Murcutt is world renowned for his energy efficient architecture; although he does not work outside the country, using his motto "touch the earth lightly" [35] . Murcutt is an advocate of using locally sourced manufactured materials such as glass, timber and steel where he developed an appreciation for simple vernacular architecture which pays attention to the environment. Murcutt takes into account the origins of the material, the energy consumed to process them and reusing them to avoid the loss of energy. The Marika-Alderton House in Yirrkala Community is a prime example of Murcutt's energy efficient ideas where he adapts his materials to the hot tropical climate where a skeleton skin like building emphasises ventilation. Nevertheless he also uses agricultural tin sheets to cover the building in an innovative way.

Murcutt uses Simper's principle idea of elevating the primary building off the ground, using lightweight steel structure (see figure). Murcutt has set up a master class for teaching students how to use his environmental principles successfully. He used the constructivist teaching methodologies which advocate education through practice rather than a theory based project in order to give students a better understanding of these principles. Parallel to this, Renzo Piano has similar beliefs; however working on a larger high-tech scale.

Renzo Piano is one of the foremost tectonic architects of the 21st century. He has collaborated with many architects such as Sir Richard Rogers on the infamous Pompidou Centre, and Peter Rice the Irish engineer on a number of innovative projects until his death in 1992. Peter Buchanan in his book Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Complete Works, Vol. 5 expresses how Piano has incorporated green design in to all his recent work. One of his most recent projects is the academy of sciences in San Francisco which earned the highest sustainability rating awarded by the U.S. green building council. This was achieved through the use of many innovated ideas such as reusing recycled materials, and using only locally sourced materials within a 500 miles radius.

In 2004 Piano established a program for students to develop and promote architecture. The program implements Piano's basic principle 'learning by doing' as he states "The design maker shouldn't relinquish contact with the workshop where the properties of materials are best explored, and where aesthetic judgements are best made full size and not just by eye but by the feel of the hard too" [36] . In doing this Piano has enabled others to fully understand their projects by building 1:1 models of their proposed designs and so grasp the materials relationship with the project. It also allows for innovation in high-tech construction techniques such as the crafting of construction as seen in a number of his projects, in particular in his J M Tjibaou Cultural Centre or the Kimbell art museum extension (see figure). However with new high-tech construction techniques comes new high-tech material.

Victoria Ballard Bell highlighted how "it is also most impossible to keep pace with the latest and newest types of materials being introduced to the construction field" [37] . Architects such as Shigeru Ban an award winning architect, whom demonstrated innovation with paper and in particular recycled cardboard paper tubes, which he utilised in rebuilding homes for disaster victims. However with all this modern innovation in materials and architecture, it is still important to remember the words of John Ruskin "a building cannot be considered in its prime until four or five centuries have passed over it' [38] .

7.0 Model Based Research

"Each material has its own message and, to the creative artists, its own song." [39] 

7.1 Object of Research

The following are the research objectives of this study:

To gain an in-depth knowledge of tectonic buildings throughout the world.

Establish the effect on the building and its environment; if the original materials were changed or modified

Examine the effects of material change to the building's design.

Identify any problems within this research.

7.2 Choosing the buildings

The following research examines modern tectonic or atectonic architects, from around the world, to give a broad view of their architectural styles. Buildings designed by various architects will be examined, in particular those that have given a greater appreciation and understanding towards tectonic architecture. Cases have been selected from both ends of the spectrum, highlighted the good and the bad within such architecture. The buildings were then broken down into their associated brackets, (see appendix 11.1) in order to provide a greater understanding of what their relationship is to tectonic architecture.

Three different buildings would be examined when carrying out this research. They ranged in scale in order to provide a greater understanding of how the variation of materials can affect a space in differing scales. If it had been possible, the study would have explored a variation of building functions; however it was deemed that function was not a significant factor. A criteria has been set, that the buildings require to have a framed structure; these structures can be either lightweight or heavyweight, as the change in materials will possibly give larger variations in structural type. The buildings would have a minimum amount of materials, as to allow for a greater appreciation of change. They also have to fit into the tectonic style of architecture and varying styles of tectonics' as set out in the criteria, however it is thought that the style of the 'master builder' (see definition) is not possible in most countries so it was excluded on that bases. One stereotomic building will be included in order to offer an impartial view and illustrating if such a building design could be adapted to a tectonic style using a change of materials.

Three buildings were chosen which best suited the criteria of this model based research. These buildings are the Deal Pier Café by Niall McLaughlin, the Farnsworth by Mise van de Rohe and Tadao Ando's 4 x 4 House see appendix 11.2 more for information.

From these three buildings, one building was chosen to complete a detailed study. After numerous discussions with lecturers, it was decided to use Mies van de Rohe's, Farnsworth House as it provided the greatest example of both tectonic and modern domestic architecture. It was perceived that the best possible results could be gleaned from this building.

7.3 Criteria for Changes

After studying the objectives and selecting the relevant buildings; the following criteria has been set out to ensure that impartial results are achieved;


Change of materials

Changing of connections / joint method's

Changing of the structural principles, however only when materials requirements cannot meet the existing structural principles.

Exposing the structure

Heights may vary as required so as to achieve the correct proportion and scale of the materials.

Alteration to glazing design


Change in the buildings function

Inserting walls

Adding rooms or floors

7.4 Factors not considered

The following factors were not considered, as to allow such changes to the materials used or it would result in an obsolete study (Fait accompli)

The physical context, the cultural context or the context of use were not taken into account.

The technical aspects such as building regulations, and building codes were not taken into account due to the differing ages and technical requirements of building and location.

The architects reasoning was not factored in, as it would prevent the materials being changed

7.6 Results of Research

The building designs did change once the materials were altered. With each adjustment, Mies's concept was lost. For example changing the thickness of the columns and removing the plinth were necessary modifications to the design for varying materials. However it has shown that structure and the constructional craft of the building are of utmost importance therefore it is not possible to change the materials used without affecting the physical structure.

The design of the building evolved with each and every change as can be seen when the idea of using two heavy structural elements were used to hold the roof structure (page ??). This change altered the perception and articulation of the space. The original design had minimal structural elements with a large free open plan. This concept was lost with the addition of two large columns, which transformed the space and additionally blocked views which affected the open plan design.

Mies idea of the construction joint was very important in the building design. However as evident with timber there can be many types of joints. These construction joints can change the building and its design (see pages ??). The crafting of construction and change in materials resulted in varying aesthetics to each building as it's altered from the original design.

There was a loss of Mies's aesthetic aspirations in each change made, however the steel and brick were closest to his idea. The study emphasised that each material used must in all instances account for structure. Each time the materials were changed the structural principle of the building were altered. This was not accounted for at the start of this study.

This study has shown that changing the materials will change the buildings design and will hamper the design in many ways. With the change of material it has shown that the crafting of construction and structural principles are as important as materials in all cases. With this knowledge structure and jointing connections in materials could be part of my technical thesis.

8.0 Conclusion

Throughout this study it is clear that materials do play a key role in the design of tectonic architecture, from the mere hut structure, with its locally sourced materials to the recently designed Mexico Public Library designed by Alberto Kalach, with its light weight exposed structural steel frame. However it has also shown that structures and the crafting of construction play, just as an important role in the design of these buildings as pointed out in the model based study. The buildings within this research have shown there is a need for promotion of honesty with a clarity of construction and structural expression as can be seen in the Farnsworth house, while this clearness was lost once the materials were changed in the model based study.

The study has shown the innovation in both materials and construction techniques, can be traced right back true time, however it has also been illustrated that these advancements were key to the concept of that project. Weather it was the jointing or weaving methods of the Caribbean hut, to the countless hours spent on the crafting of construction on the J M Tjibaou Cultural Centre without these innovations, both of these projects would not be what they are today. However it has shown that it is important to use technology to our advantage; in this it cannot alone help in our design but we can use it in manufacturing and creation of bespoke elements. These elements or joints can prove vital of the successful of any design or space.

With each innovation in material or construction technique one key concept stood out. Each time there was a cutting edge idea of that period, there was collaboration between the construction team that being the architect, engineers, scientists (in more recent years) and the craftsman. In most cases these innovations were as a direct result or response to a new design issue or system, while others were results of improving existing components or construction techniques. In each situation the architect was the principle designer coordinating each team member as needed. The architect was at the forefront of these cutting edge technologies pushing the boundaries beyond anything seen before. However due to large scale manufacturing and standardisation of components it is leading to loss of some identity in individual buildings and architecture. In more recent times however this loss is being transformed by such architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and Renzo Piano with their 'learning by doing' methods which remove the idea of using standard components and again brings the idea of innovative materials and construction techniques back to the forefront.

It has been noted that the apprenticeship of practical hands on experience has been lost from architectural schools. However this idea is starting to be transferred back to schools, with the rise of design/build programs such as The Rural Studio, Studio 804 and the initiative program at the University of Washington, has demonstrated student's decision making skills and the understanding that what they design is critical to a projects success. This gives students some critical time for practical experience and lets them get involved with the innovation of construction techniques and gives them some valuable time with materials. As Carlo Scarpa carved over the entry doors of the University luav of Venice, school of architecture while he was president 'Verum ipsum factum' ('we only know what we make').

Through this process the most essential thing I have learnt is that architects are not just designers. He/she is an artist of making these designs come to reality with large amounts of exploration between the processes. There are many building designs which can be dissolved from this process however I have proposed to design an architectural laboratory for my second semester design thesis.

"Design/building students learn immediately that their choice of materials can be powerful and didactic tool to this end." [40] 

9.0 Brief

"The realization that architecture is the making of things, it requires the balance of science and craft, head and hand, experiment and memory" [41] .

In the professional workplace and within university based programs; there are platforms which accommodate 'learning by doing'. However as Lisa Wastiels research has shown this is not the case with architectural materials. Students need to develop awareness and a capacity to understand their ambitions in architecture today; much like the master builder of the past. Studies by the National Training Laboratories of Bethel, Maine have explored how student retention rates varied after a 24 hour period, depending on the teaching methodology applied. Figure ??? illustrates how learning by doing ('practice by doing') ??% and teaching others are ??% the preferred teaching methodologies in order to improve learning and retention.

Therefore it is proposed that the Architectural lab will include these outcomes and all the sensual findings within this thesis. It will give students and professionals a space to gain practical experience within a collective and inspirational environment. This could promote investigation/research into materials, construction techniques and styles of architecture. While trying to encourage experimentation with cutting edge technology throughout one's education and into one's professional careers, whilst also endorsing working as part of a collective team.

The lab would facilitate engineers and artists as well as the architectural student and professional. It will not be a school but rather a place for training and research. It will allow individuals to assemble and discover the importance of implementation and precision, and examine the relationship between drawings and the realised buildings. This would improve education around materials, construction and the manipulation of 1:1 scale buildings or elements whilst also incorporating the appropriate testing facilities.

The architecture laboratory and the construction trade school should be interlinked. Such a link would encourage innovation from both parties to work on either materials or the new construction methods, allowing for shared best practices and synergy. There will also be a crossing of education and skills from one to the other leading to an expansion of knowledge.

9.1 Case Studies for brief

The following buildings and programs were used as case studies to inform this brief. Les Grands Ateliers de l'Osle d'Abeau, France, Ghost Architectural Laboratory, Nova Scotia, Canada, Studio 804, Kansas, USA and Rural studio, Auburn USA. Please see appendix 11.3 for further information.

9.2 Aspirations

The building shall be designed in the tectonic style of architecture, incorporating the innovative use of materials and structure. Its design shall allow for spaces in which people will be inspired to use new innovative materials and construction techniques in varying styles of architecture. These spaces need to illustrate how the most cutting edge technology can be utilised in a sensitive manner and also apply the principals of tectonic architecture, where people in the construction disciplines can collaborate and work as a team.

There is a need to welcome people outside the construction industry to gain and expand their knowledge, a space whereby the local community can get involved with architecture. Overall the space must promote architectural education with an emphasis on different teaching practices such as Constructivist teaching methodologies

9.3 Design Principles


Materials should be key to projects and can be used as a driver/concept in architecture design. Their selection should be taken at an early stage to allow for a full understanding of their integration to the building, with reasoning for their selection.

Honest Construction

There is a need for honesty with tectonic architecture. This should be evident with clarity in the construction and the expression of structural elements. Where there is a meeting of materials or construction joints this should be exposed and not hidden.


There should be an allowance for innovation within certain parts of each building design. This innovation can be in the form of materials, structure, environmental design, or craft of construction and so on. Cutting edge technologies should be embraced and not feared. If there is no innovation within architecture then designs will be repetitive.

Learning by doing

Today, architecture is complex and there is a need for students and professionals to realise their design beyond the drawing format. There is a need for knowledge around what design outcomes can produce. With this, elements of the design need to be explored in different processes other than drawings to allow architects and students reach beyond their current boundaries.

Collaborative teamwork

Architecture today has advanced across a wide range and fields, however with this expansion, clients expectations have developed. With this growth there is a further need for architects to work with highly trained individuals within their field. The architect needs to be the principle leader of the team and with this collaboration; their designs can be brought to another level of development.

9.4 Design Approach:

Existing trade schools or architectural laboratories are currently established as separate entities, and all research is completed behind closed doors, which leads to a separation in skills. Allowing for a multifunctional flexible open plan space will encourage better integration of disciplines.

The design needs to accommodate access for the general public throughout the building in order to encourage discovery and increase exposure to daily operations. With this it will promote a change in public perception towards architecture, and allows for an insight into the internal workings. However there still remains a need for safety within these spaces and also to ensure distractions are kept to a minimum.

9.5 Design Intentions:

The specific context and contents will inform the design, form and structure of the building however as Kenneth Frampton stated "essentially our task is to free the practice of building from the control of the aesthetic speculators and restore it to what it should be: building" [42] . This approach will be taken in relation to my design, which will use materials for their honesty whether that is in a structural form or the façade treatment. This will remove the idea that materials are there to address only the aesthetic requirements in architecture.

Due to the ever changing technology the lab will have to be a smart lab. The thinking behind this is that the building design would have to be adaptable with new technologies. For instance allowance for the updating of technologies within the building and the ability to install new large machinery without interrupting the on-going works within the building.

There are intentions to allow the architectural laboratory to expand over time. With this expansion there is a proposal to let students, whom wish to take part in a summer school, build part of the laboratory. This is a similar idea to that of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, whom run the Ghost lab in Nova Scotia Canada

9.6 Client

There are a number of proposed clients for this project; The RIAI (The Royal Institute of the architects of Ireland), NSAI (National Standards Association of Ireland) and BRE (The Building Research Establishment). The client selected will be similar to that of Les Grands Ateliers, whereby it will be an inter college establishment containing ten architectural / architectural technology colleges of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Refer to site analysis figure 2) in conjunction with the Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FAS or Training & Employment Authority). Students from different bodies could book the facilities when needed, however there would be the option for professional and other uses much like that of Les Grands Ateliers to also book the facilities.

9.7 User / occupiers

The following are different types of users of the proposed design. There are 5 primary users, which will occupy the building at various times of the year; and their needs will have to be taken into account. However the numbers below are taken at an average time of the year and day.

Type Number: Notes:

Full time employee 22

Full time researchers 12 Note research are also test of materials

Part time employee 10

Part time user's 80 Exhibition or trade fairs of 500+

Tourists/Public 15 Visiting cafe and lab

Local Community 50 Visiting cafe and lab

Estimated users 189 Exhibition or trade fairs of 600 +

9.8 Program:

The laboratory must provide various functions, including theory spaces, studio, workshops and laboratory studies. Movement and the arrangement between these main functions, should be planned as one complete scheme as to feel part of one large whole, to allow for the collaboration between these occupants.

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