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This book highlights aesthetics as pertaining to the structural component in architectural design. This less explored aspect of architecture is discussed and explains the enduring qualities of ten specific buildings from architectural history to present day due to their structural aesthetics. Based on comprehensive research, a critical analysis is presented of the constraints and other influences on architectural and structural design, such as culture, patronage, geometry, available resources and technologies.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
In this chapter, the aim is to give substance to the premise that the ‘structural aesthetic’ is valid as a measure of architecture of worth, an aspect that is largely overlooked in the wider context. To this end a virtual matrix of criteria, backed by the philosophical research of recognised commentators, becomes a filter to guide the selection of the most deserving ten ‘masters’ and their landmark buildings. As contributing factors, cognitive associations and cultural preference as explored  by neuroscience are fundamental to architectural appreciation. The influences of manual methods to the empowering technical advances are seen as integral in the wider perspective. These parameters coupled with the reliance on Nature of master builders from the past  and contemporary architects as an inspiration for their architectural forms at all periods of architectural history are compelling in the design equation that has assumed many formulations, from two-dimensional geometry of earlier times to three-dimensional parametricism of recent works.
Derek Thomas

Chapter 2. Elemental Determinants

Abstract
In order to provide substantial argument in the evaluation of the ‘structural aesthetic’, this chapter explores the most significant determining elements. The true measure of aesthetic experience requires convincing formulation and is explored in the research of recognised commentators on aesthetic appreciation. Apart from cognitive and subjectivity aspects that underly the appreciation of architecture as an art form, the role of more pragmatic factors is evaluated, such as symbolism, the contextual framework, or the setting, together with the attributes of symmetrical and asymmetrical form in which architecture is conceived. History has shown that the role of the patron is paramount in the formulation of the architect’s brief., thereby challenging ethical standards. Equal importance is given to the imperatives of religious and secular practices around the globe that to a greater or lesser extent have a bearing on the shape and scale on aspirations that have guided the architects’ briefs. As with all enterprises, architecture is influenced by the availability of the materials, methods and resources available economically at the time, thereby becoming important constraints. Nature as mentor or model for form for architectural work is given recognition and expression through evolved forms of geometry including ‘fractal’ geometry that embodies thematic transformation. By way of the application of natural forms in design, the development of digitally-aided parametric design has pioneered a new approach in contemporary architecture and is recognised as the successor to post-modern and modern architecture. The future of paradigm shifts that are unavoidable include the use of artificial intelligence, of Smart materials, the rise of social media and the interruptive influence of the avant-garde into the established cultural milieu. Collectively these imply new trajectories that are bound to be expressed in architectural design in the future.
Derek Thomas

Chapter 3. The Masters and Their Structures

Abstract
In this Chapter a synthesis of the elemental determinants described in Chap. 2 is applied as a background to the ten chosen architectural works, whether through stylistic or philosophical genesis, and forms the discourse in this chapter. A review of the predominance of the ‘structural aesthetic’ in vernacular architecture confirms that historically the adoption of the equivalent elemental determinants that inform architecture of today existed albeit intuitively. Against the background of architectural monuments of the Greeks and Romans, the work of Filippo Brunelleschi is a fitting opening to the review, based on his stand-alone achievements as a precursor to the Renaissance. Since the Renaissance adopted Classical architecture for inspiration, architecture tended not to expose, but rather to clad the structure. In the fullness of time Antoni Gaudi (La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona) is identified as a major figure in returning architecture to its roots by adopting natural forms for his signature style in aesthetics. The figure of Le Corbusier (Ronchamp Chapel) looms large in architecture, and by virtue of his adoption of organic forms, left raw and unfinished, his gesture to the aesthetic of the structure is recognised. The review follows three towering figures during the middle of the twentieth century: Pier Luigi Nervi (Turin Exhibition Halls) who succeeded in promoting concrete in structural forms that could satisfy all the elemental determinants with impressive aesthetic outcomes; Oscar Niemeyer (National Congress Building, Brasilia) employed gravity-defying shell dome constructions that became the hallmark of his work in both Brazil and abroad; and Jörn Utzon’s whimsical aesthetic that used spherical geometry in Nature for the Sydney Opera House in the most effective way to contain the greatest volume with the least surface area. Moving away from concrete, Frei Otto (Munich Olympic Stadium, 1972) forever changed attitudes to tensile structures that were unmatched in simplicity and elegance and the essence of good architecture. To bring the review up to present day, the avant-garde work of Zaha Hadid (Heydar Cultural Centre) opens a vista on the future, through the use of the most advanced digital design aids, where a steel spaceframe is used with fluidity, with a result bordering on the surreal in architecture.
Derek Thomas

Chapter 4. Comparative Structural Methods

Abstract
Over a span of over 550 years, widely diverging operational methods employed by three architects in particular are brought into sharper focus; those of Filippo Brunelleschi, Antoni Gaudi and Pier Luigi Nervi. In this chapter, it is noted that they share common elemental factors that influenced their work and determined their design philosophies and structural principles, however, their methods of execution differed: Brunelleschi (Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence) embarked on a gravity defying modus to construct the dome over the transept of the cathedral without scaffolding; Gaudi (La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona) employed models involving ropes and sacks of lead shot to achieve his Nature-inspired soaring vaults and spires; and Nervi (Turin Exhibition Hall C) believed that precasting, the use of ferro-cement, and methods of roof construction with ‘travelling’ formwork, was an important step in construction that could deliver a finished state and define the aesthetic of a structure.
Derek Thomas

Backmatter

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