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1 AESTHETIC THEORIES OF THE EXPRESSION OF STRUCTURAL FUNCTION IN ARCHITECTURAL FORMS LALHRIATPUII ZOTE 060118 B.ARCH, 8 TH SEM SPA, JNAFAU.

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1 1 AESTHETIC THEORIES OF THE EXPRESSION OF STRUCTURAL FUNCTION IN ARCHITECTURAL FORMS LALHRIATPUII ZOTE 060118 B.ARCH, 8 TH SEM SPA, JNAFAU

2 2 AESTHETIC THEORIES OF THE EXPRESSION OF STRUCTURAL FUNCTION IN ARCHITECTURAL FORMS Structural function is an important factor influencing the aesthetics of architectural form, to the degree that it expresses strength, structural integrity, and/or the load- transfer mechanism operating in the structure. There are several theories relating to this structural function, which are: SCHOPENHAUER’S THEORY OF STATICS:  One of the oldest and the most important theories dealing with the aesthetics of architectural form and related directly to the expression of structural function is SCHOPENHAUER’S THEORY OF STATICS.  This theory is important due to its lasting influence- alive even today-on architectural criticism. It is based on the axiom that the sole and constantly recurring theme of architecture is the expression of loads and support.  Form must express the struggle of forces to achieve equilibrium; every architectural member must carry its load; and the relation of the member to its whole must be such that if one member were removed, we would be left with impression that the entire architectural work would crumble. Schopenhauer believed that the architectural ideally expressing the opposition of the land and the support forces is the column-cum-architrave form. Those connected the theory of empathy to the aesthetic approach to architecture also considered this form to express the opposition or equilibrium of forces.

3 3 THEORY OF EMPATHY: VISCHER, one of the most prominent students of aesthetics, also believed that the column is a form that expresses better than any other form the struggle between force and weight. According to the theory of empathy, this is the case not because the column is the support that reacts in order to carry the weight of the overlying beam, but rather because the column’s shape reminds us of our bodies in a standing position, carrying weight, while the horizontal architrave reminds us of ourselves lying down. MIHELIS, Architecture as Art :  More recently, MIHELIS, in his work Architecture as Art. Expressed opinions similar to Schopenhauer’s. In his analysis of architectural form, Mihelis maintains that it consists of active, passive, and decorative elements.  The first two constitute the system of construction: active elements the bearing elements) prop up the work and support the weights, whereas passive elements (the roof, the cornice, and the covering, for the example) protect the structure from the external conditions.  Decorative elements provide unity and harmony to the structure as a whole to which they, in turn, conform.  Concerning the active elements that constitute the bearing structure, Mihelis maintains that some, like the column are carrying the elements and, some, like the beam, are carried elements.

4 4 CHRISTIAN NORBERG SCHULZ, Intensions in Architecture:  Christian Norberg Schulz, in his work Intensions in Architecture, divides forms into two categories reminiscent of Mihelis’s distinctions: the mass system and the skeleton system.  These two categories derive from the two corresponding systems of construction. The difference is that the bearing structure of the structural system is composed of articulated members, whereas that of the mass system is not.  Norberg Schulz does not examine whether this difference in the articulation of the elements is due to a difference in the mode of structural function of the bearing structures of the two systems of construction.  In other words, he does not address the problem of whether articulated members are characterized by a distant structural function expressed through form.  He considers structural function to be a less important factor than rationalism. For this reason, he maintains that all regular-shaped structures composed of repeated elements fall under the two categories of form, the mass system and the skeleton system.  The regular geometrical shape and the identical repeated elements facilitate construction, as well as static’s calculation. He calls structures without these properties “amorphous.” Norberg Schulz finds that the forms of skeleton systems offer ample opportunities for the articulation, as well as repetitive and hierarchy properties, and characterizes them as “architectural,” in contrast to the forms of mass system which he terms “sculptural.”

5 5 SEYMOUR HOWARD”S, Structure: An Architect’s Approach : A similar term, “sculptural structure,” appears in SEYMOUR HOWARD”S book Structure: An Architect’s Approach. His classification of forms is based on an entirely different principle. He does not examine the geometry of forms, that is, whether they are integral or articulated, nor does he analyze the way in which forms function statically. Instead, he concentrates on the design of structures from the point of view of the effectiveness of their structural function. He focuses on the intensity of the structural function of a certain form, which he defines an extend to which, at any cross section of that form, the stress caused by loading approaches the maximum allowable stress for the material in question. According to Seymour Howard’s classification, four categories of structure is distinguished : 1.In forms of “minimal structure,” the form of the structure is such that the material is used in the most effective way possible. Seymour Howard observes correctly that the greatest possible savings in building materials do not necessarily coincide with the greatest possible savings in resources or expenses. 2. The lack of sufficiency trained technical personnel or even limited theoretical knowledge of structural engineering are factors that often preclude the realization of a form of minimal structure. For this reason, the structures of most buildings do not approach the limits of the strength of the materials used. The loading of such a structure does not approach critical loading. Seymour Howard calls that and “adequate structure” because it is adequate for its purpose, given that it does not fall down.

6 6 3. Forms of “sculptural” or “formal” structure are those whose members waste the material that performs a structural function. In these forms, materials are used inefficiently for aesthetic reasons only; these forms reflect the aesthetic intentions of the architect. According to Seymour Howard, many old as well as contemporary architectural works exhibit a sculptural structure. He believes that the apparent contradiction between from and structural logic has brought pronouncement of anathema, first by contemporary academic purists and lately by the structural and functional purists of the modern movement. 4. Seymour Howard used the concept of structural function to categorize forms of structure. However, he does not use this criticism from the point of view of the mode of structural function: rather, he concentrates on the intensity of structural function. At the same time, he use logic, sincerity, and the aesthetic result as additional criteria. Forms of minimal or adequate structure express structural function honestly. PLASTIC MORPHOLOGY:  The term “plastic morphology” is used to characterize a building bearing structure, each member of which functions statically in a different way.  In contrast, the term “monolithic morphology” is used for a bearing structure that cannot be analysed into distinct members- that is, one whose carrying and carried elements are composed or many small pieces connected by some kind of compact material.

7 7  The classical Greek temple is proposed- as a typical example of a plastic morphology, in which the equilibrium of forces (the weight and the support) is expressed representational.  A beam carries loads perpendicular to its exits and transfers them to its two ends, while a post is loaded along its axis and transfers loads from one end to other. In the case of classical Greek temple, of course, the marble beam rest on the columns without being coupled to them structurally. Thus, we conclude we have vertical carrying elements and horizontal elements that are carried. FRAME AND SKELETON STRUCTURES: Contemporary frame and skeleton structures are quite different. In these, the post and the beams are structurally coupled in a manner crucial to statically function.  In frame structures, both vertical and horizontal elements transfer bending moments by virtue of their fully fixed joints. Vertical and horizontal elements are distinguishable only geometrically; structurally they are not, because they act as a integral system . In skeleton, were post and beams are articulated, beams may also act as column stiffening connecting members. Beams and post are coupled, and in the case of horizontal loading “an earth quake, for example” the posts transfer loads to their beams. Thus, the skeleton system and even more so in frame system, we may distinguish horizontal from vertical element without necessarily being able to distinguish carried from carrying elements.

8 8 frame structure skeleton structure MONOLITHIC AND ARTICULATED STRUCTURE:  Monolithic structures are those whose members are interconnected at fully fixed joints, whereas articulated structures are those whose members are joined with hinges. The later each component element conforms to a specific structural function performs. In this context, a frame is a monolithic structure, whereas a beam supported by two posts is not.

9 9  In defining a monolithic structure as executing one uniformity of structural function, it is irrelevant whether various materials with different strength properties are present in one and same structure. We may call such a structure monolithic even though its structural function is based on the combination of different properties of the materials of which it is made. Reinforced concrete structures are typical in this respect - a reinforced concrete beam is monolithic even though the steel rods take up all tensile stress and only part of the concrete is under compression. EXAMPLES: articulated structure monolithic structure

10 10  The term “monolithic structure” is not reserved for structures that do not express structural function through form. Monolithicity itself may be a property of way in which a certain bearing system functions structurally. Indeed, this property may even be expressed by the shape of the system in question.  In conclusion, the term “monolithic structure” is not reserved for structures that do not express structural function through form. Monolithicity itself may be a property of way in which a certain bearing system functions structurally. Indeed, this property may even be expressed by the shape of the system in question.  Monolithicity is expressed even more vividly when the cross sections of the horizontal and vertical elements follow the variations in the magnitudes of the bending moments. Similarly, the reinforcements at the junctions of beams and posts in reinforced concrete, timber, or steel structures contribute to the expression of Monolithicity.  There are many her forms that express Monolithicity through shape. In mushroom plates, for example, we achieve this effect by increasing the thickness around the posts. Reinforcements here are not placed in order to obtain a fixed joint, that is, structural coupling between horizontal and vertical elements that the loads can be transferred; rather, the reinforcements are arranged; rather, the reinforcements are arranged to prevent the punching shear of the plate.

11 11 AMORPHOUS STRUCTURE IN ARCHITECTURE: According to Norberg Schulz, amorphous structures are not composed of repeated elements that would simplify construction, and do not have regular geometrical shapes that would allow precise analytical statically calculations. There exist, of course, bearing systems possessing forms governed by geometrical laws that may or may not be subdivided into similar parts, but whose structural behaviour cannot be studied analytically. Consequently, static’s calculations have to be replaced by experimental modelling techniques. Soumaya Museum by LAR + Fernando Romero presenting an amorphous structure  According to Christopher Alexander’s definition, an amorphous body is indifferent to all external conditions and resided in an absolutely homogeneous environment, where no forces exist that could affect it.  Many notable examples of contemporary architecture would have to be described as amorphous under Norberg Schulz’s definition of the term – form not obeying geometric laws and/or not composed of many similar elements or parts.

12 12 IMPORTANT POINTS:  The satisfaction of functional needs as well as construction considerations are surely secondary design factors compared to the architect’s intent to build a plastic structure.  Forms are not subject to the regularity of a geometrical shape, which would facilitate construction and would permit standardization; the efficient use of materials is of little or no concern; rationality and economy of construction are neglected. The architect’s intentions to build a plastic structure constitute a design ‘force” qualitatively different from structural design factors.  To evaluate such works, we ought to apply aesthetic criteria alone, which, by definition, cannot be objective.  ‘Formal’ is yet another term that has been used derogatorily in recent times. Seymour Howard has described the buildings of Mies van der Rohe as such, on the grounds that vertical steel H section elements in his facades, thereby concealing the actual bearing elements. Mies van der Rohe’s architecture is certainly not sculptural, but it could be inappropriate to characterize it as formal solely because some elements of the façade are only decorative.  At this point we should introduce the term “free form,” as used by Curt Siegel for works that cannot be categorized on the basis of objective criteria. This term seems to be more value-free than those we have already introduced.It is perhaps unnecessary to add that categorising forms based on the subjective aesthetic judgment is not conclusive and may even be arbitrary.

13 13  We should not be pedantic about distinguishing between forms of minimal structure and forms of adequate structures. As Seymour Howard observes, only technical works with formidable structural integrity requirements, such as suspension bridges or stadium roofs, satisfy the definition to the later.  Engineers like Buckminster Fuller have searched for forms of maximal structurally efficiency and minimal weight. Some contemporary artists working in the same direction have been let to such structures as the tensegrity mast.  A similar situation arises with a regard to a theoretical study of architectural form. We accept a certain theory provided that we share the theoretical perspective and biases behind it. If we approach the same theory from a different perspective, we will be led to different conclusions. It is characteristic of architectural criticism today that the various theories proposed often don’t compliment but rather contradict one another. This richness of different views is certainly of great theoretical interest though not without at least two disadvantages for architects. First of all, particular works or even the entire work of a certain architect may be highly regarded from one perspective and severely criticized from one another. In only a few years time, the “Less is more” dictum was replaced by the “Less is a bore” aphorism. Mies van der Rohe’s work, once admired, is now considered by some to be boring and poor. Secondly, diverse theories evaluate and rank architectural forms on the basis of aesthetic criteria, which may lead to restrictions and to directives that may prove very quickly to be misleading.

14 14  Norberg Schulz appears to agree with the older views of Schopenhauer and Vischer when he distinguishes forms into “mass forms” and ‘skeleton forms”, preferring the latter over the former. He is not concerned with the question of weather skeleton forms articulated in members express structural function. He finds that, beside the practical advantages that the skeleton forms offer, they also provide ample opportunities for articulation, repetition, hierarchy. For this reason these forms are more ‘architectural’ than the more “sculptural mass forms,” which are not articulated.  According to Norberg Schulz, many sculptural structures often satisfy structural constraints while serving functional requirements. Indeed, an envelope cover with a sculptural form, such as a shell or a membrane, is more suitable for certain projects, including multi-purpose and large occupancy areas and performance space.  Norberg Schulz’s preference for articulated forms, as expressed in intentions in architecture, seems prima facie to be correct and rational. It is certainly true that in the course of the history of architecture, there has been a movement away from less articulated forms and towards more articulated ones. A tendency exists for forms to become more complex as the number of their component elements increases. Simultaneously, the articulation of the forms has become expressed increasingly more intensely, as the autonomy of the constituent members is increasingly emphasised. This evolution of forms occurred, for example, as Romanesque architecture gave way to gothic style.

15 15  The composition of the great masters developed differently from the forms of architectural styles. In particular, they evolved from more complex to apparently less complex forms, in so far as the number and autonomy of their members is concerned. This probably occurred because the great masters were not interested in displaying their outstanding skills in the handling of their medium. This explanation, however, does not lead to the conclusion that, works of art in general, articulated forms are better or more architectural than non- articulated ones. As we have seen, a range of materials and construction techniques are now available to the architect: some are more appropriate for the design of uniform works, or works with elements behaving in uniform manner, while others are suited for the construction of the forms analysed into independent, autonomous elements. Structure of reinforced concrete, which is poured and solidified in-situ, belongs to the former category. The latter category includes industrialized building system based on modular construction. Initially, these systems imitated conventional construction. Today they have developed their own morphology, which expresses the basic construction unit. This principle applied both at the building complex level and in parts of pre-fabricated buildings, including space frames that cover large spaces.  In a historical approach to the study of architectural form, it is inappropriate to prefer a priori more articulated over less articulated forms. In some cases, structural considerations dictate a monolithic construction with fully fixed joints between elements, while in other instances, a different set of rational structural considerations demand an articulated structure with hinges between elements.


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