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Tectonic Thinking after the Industrial Revolution. Robert Pirsig, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Kenneth Frampton, Studies in Tectonic Culture Lars Spuybroek, The Architecture of Continuity Richard Sennett, The Craftsman Ed Ford, The Details of Modern Architecture, Vol. 1

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tectonic thinking after the industrial revolution

Tectonic Thinkingafter theIndustrial Revolution

Robert Pirsig, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Kenneth Frampton, Studies in Tectonic Culture

Lars Spuybroek, The Architecture of Continuity

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman

Ed Ford, The Details of Modern Architecture, Vol. 1

Geoffrey Scott, The Architecture of Humanism

Expression (ik-SPRESH'uhn) n. Definition --n.

1. The act of expressing, conveying, or representing in words, art, music, or movement.

Express (ik-SPRES') tr.v. Definition --tr.v. -pressed, -pressing, -presses.

4. To make a representation of; depict.

5. To represent by a sign or symbol; symbolize.

[American Heritage Dictionary Online]

“... Eduard Sekler defined the tectonic as a certain expressivity arising from the statical resistanceof constructional formin such a way that the resultant form could notbe accounted for in terms of structure and construction alone.”
  • From Webster’s Online Dictionary
    • 1.a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty
    • 2.a particular theory or conception of beauty or art
  • Beauty
    • derived from the Greek Word for “sensory perception”
    • “skin deep”
    • “in the eye of the beholder”
    • classical beauty expresses order and clarity
  • Art <–> Nature
  • Art <–> Science
  • Art <–> Fine Arts
    • Art as expressing
      • Artist-centered, receivers attitude is irrelevant
    • Art as pleasing
      • Viewer-centered, receivers attitude is some form of sensory pleasure
    • Art as moving
      • In the lives of the receivers hearts and minds
    • Art as revealing
      • Discloses something about reality, enlightening

Pirsig, Robert M; Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance


Pirsig, Robert M; Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

zen 2 peace of mind
Zen 2: Peace of Mind
  • “Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind. Technology presumes there's just one right way to do things and there never is. And when you presume there's just one right way to do things, of course the instructions begin and end exclusively with the rotisserie. But if you have to choose among an infinite number of ways to put it together then the relation of the machine to you, and the relation of the machine and you to the rest of the world, has to be considered, because the selection from among many choices, the art of the work is just as dependent upon your own mind and spirit as it is upon the material of the machine. That's why you need the peace of mind.”
zen 3 harmony
Zen 3: Harmony
  • “Sometime look at a novice workman or a bad workman and compare his expression with that of a craftsman whose work you know is excellent and you'll see the difference. The craftsman isn't ever following a single line of instruction. He's making decisions as he goes along. For that reason he'll be absorbed and attentive to what he's doing even though he doesn't deliberately contrive this. His motions and the machine are in a kind of harmony. He isn't following any set of written instructions because the nature of the material at hand determines his thoughts and motions, which simultaneously change the nature of the material at hand. The material and his thoughts are changing together in a progression of changes until his mind's at rest at the same time the material's right.”
zen 4 transcendance
Zen 4: Transcendance
  • “All that talk about technology and art is part of a pattern that seems to have emerged from my own life. It represents transcendence from something I think a lot of others may be trying to transcend. Well, it isn't just art and technology. It's a kind of non-coalescence between reason and feeling. What's wrong with technology, is that it's not connected in any real way with matters of the spirit and of the heart. And so it does blind, ugly things quite by accident and gets hated for that. ….. the ugliness is being noticed more and more and people are asking if we must always suffer spiritually and esthetically in order to satisfy material needs.….. It can't be solved by rational means because the rationality itself is the source of the problem.”
zen 5 technology
Zen 5: Technology
  • “The ugliness the Sutherlands were fleeing is not inherent in technology. It only seemed that way to them because it's so hard to isolate what it is with technology that's so ugly. But technology is simply the making of things and the making of things can't by its own nature be ugly or there would be no possibility for beauty in the arts, which also include the making of things. Actually a root word of technology, technikos, originally meant "art." The ancient Greeks never separated art from manufacture in their minds, and so never developed separate words for them. Neither is the ugliness inherent in the materials of modern technology - a statement you sometimes hear. Mass-produced plastics and synthetics aren't in themselves bad. They've just acquired bad associations.”
zen 6 technology
Zen 6: Technology
  • “But, the real ugliness of modern technology isn't found in any material or shape or act or product. These are just the objects in which the low Quality appears to reside. It's our habit of assigning Quality to subjects or objects that gives this impression. The real ugliness is not the result of any objects of technology. Nor is it, if one follows Phaedrus' metaphysics, the result of any subjects of technology, the people who produce it or the people who use it. Quality, or its absence, doesn't reside in either the subject or the object. The real ugliness lies in the relationship between the people who produce the technology and the things they produce, which results in a similar relationship between the people who use the technology and the things they use.”
zen 7 fusion
Zen 7: Fusion
  • “It is this identity that is the basis of craftsmanship in all the technical arts. And it is this identity that modern, dualistically conceived technology lacks.
    • The creator of it feels no particular sense of identity with it.
    • The owner of it feels no particular sense of identity with it.
    • The user of it feels no particular sense of identity with it.
  • The way to solve the conflict between human values and technological needs is not to run away from technology. That's impossible. The way to resolve the conflict is to break down the barriers of dualistic thought that prevent a real understanding of what technology is--not an exploitation of nature, but a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both.”
historical tectonic attitudes
Historical Tectonic Attitudes
  • Vitruvius: Firmness, Commodity & Delight
  • Pugin: “…no features of a building which are not there for convenience, construction or propriety…all ornament should consist in the essential construction”
  • Ruskin’s Architectural Deceits: 1) suggestion of a mode of structure other than the true one, 2) painting of surfaces to represent some other material and 3) use of cast or machine made ornaments of any kind.
  • Nervi: “... marvelous possibilities cannot be fully developed if the three fundamental factors of any construction – the architectural concept, the structural analysis and the correct solution to the problems of execution.”
  • Konstantinidis: “Good architecture starts always with efficient construction.”
  • Pjer Feld: The use of a given material should never happen by choice or calculation but only through intuition and desire.
  • Billington: Efficiency, Economy & Elegance
a4229 studies in tectonic culture kenneth frampton
A4229 Studies in Tectonic Culture,Kenneth Frampton
  • “ The tectonic suggests itself today as a critical strategy largely because of the current tendency to commodify architectural form. It has to be conceded that this concern largely arises out of a reaction to Robert Venturi's concept of the "decorated shed." In this regard, it may be seen as a response to the fashion for reducing architecture to a spectacular expendable mise en scene. This amortizable scenographic approach has accompanied the general dissolution of references in the late modern world. With the possible exception of applied science, the precepts governing many discourses today have become rather both incommunicative and unstable.”
cecil balmond 2002
Cecil Balmond, 2002
  • “To my mind the answers lie deep in configuration. As we are made of patterns, both random and regular, both physical and emotional, probing the archetypes of pattern is important - in its recognition and resonance we may find an element of beauty. In the past , beauty was conditioned by aspects of purity, fixed symmetries and pared minimal structure being accepted as norms. …. Now that the world is being accepted as not simple, the complex and oblique and the intertwining of logic gain favor. Reason itself is finally being understood as nascent structure, non-linear and dependent on feedback procedures. Beauty may lie in the actual processes of engagement and be more abstract that the aesthetic of objecthood. Ultimately it may really be a constructive process.”
richard sennett 2008
Richard Sennett, 2008
  • The architect Renzo Piano explains his own working procedure thus: “You start by sketching, then you do a drawing, then you make a model, and then you go to reality-you go to the site-and then you go back to drawing. You build up a kind of circularity between drawing and making and then back again.” About repetition and practice Piano observes, “This is very typical of the craftsman's approach. You think and you do at the same time. You draw and you make. Drawing ... Is revisited. You do it, you redo it, and you redo it again.”
lars spuybroek 2008
Lars Spuybroek, 2008
  • Similarly for Spuybroek, the inherently empathetic nature of materiality is the basis for a politics of the object, enacted through the material logics of architecture, which are understood as continuous with those of the world. It is the "burning surfaces" of space, he concludes, that "make us catch fire. That is true continuity.
  • from the foreword by Detlef Mertens
  • "It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, Of all things physical and metaphysical, Of all things human and all things super-human, Of all true manifestations of the head, Of the heart, of the soul, That the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law.”
  • Louis Sullivan
  • “... Eduard Sekler defined the tectonic as a certain expressivity arising from the statical resistance of constructional form in such a way that the resultant form could not be accounted for in terms of structure and construction alone.”
  • “These notes are about the process of design; the process of inventing physical things which display a new physical order, organization, form, in response to function.”
  • “…every design problem begins with an effort to achieve fitness between two entities: the form in question and its context. The form is the solution to the problem; the context defines the problem.”
  • Christopher Alexander
  • “Efficiency depends on the trinity of material, shape and the process of making. The lighter that constructions have to be, the more critical the balance between these three.”
  • Adriaan Beukers
minimal architecture
Minimal Architecture
  • “Tomorrow’s architecture will again be minimal architecture, an architecture of the self-forming and self-optimization processes suggested by human beings. This must be seen as part of the new developing ecological system of the people who have densely and peacefully settled the surface of the earth. It ia an architecture that respects genuine traditions and the multiplicity of forms in animate and inanimate nature.”
  • Frei Otto

The structural membrane acts also as the weathershield

Cable Nets

A separate grid of structural cables supports a non–structural weathershield

Arches, Vaults & Shells:

Arch and vault constructions use little material and small mass when the form is generated by the inverted catenary, or for shells, the inverted net.

informal by cecil balmond
Informal by Cecil Balmond
  • …the informal steps in easily, a sudden twist or turn, a branching, and the unexpected happens - the edge of chance shows its face
  • Delight, surprise, ambiguity are typical responses; ideas clash in the informal and strange juxtapositions take place. Overlaps occur. Instead of regular, formally controlled measures, there are varying rhythms and wayward impulses.
  • Uniformity is broken and balance is interrupted. The demand for Order! in the regimental senses is ignored: the big picture is something else.
u penn blogosphere by metamechanic form and space are dead i am emulating nietzsche here
U.Penn Blogosphere by metamechanicForm and Space are dead. (I am emulating Nietzsche here)

Forms and Algorithms is a pre-requisite to Cecil Balmonds studio. …. why are architect students learning VB and C# in the realm of SmartGeometry, Generative Components, and Rhino scripting, why so rigourous? Well its the end of this Form and Space obsession of architecture. I am sure this isn't Balmonds intention, but thanks to the rebels against the cube, Form and Space are done.

Here is the quick history:1. Modern architecture oblished [sic] ornament and abstracted the basics forms for us (Adolf Loos, De Stijl)2. Space became free flowing (FLW, Mies)3. Then all the straight forward basic principles failed on many levels, urban planning, meaning, etc... 4. Po-mo, Italian Rationalism but within a context of the varnacular [ic], Michael Graves, Corb's brutalism and Ronchamp, Robert A.M. Stern historical crap, Archigrams fun overly technolica [sic]l conceptions, Archizooms presentation of full force modernity as an apocalyptic situation5. Semiotics, writing cities, etc...importing linguistics and social sciences (Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, etc...) so that architecture may form a language6. Deconstruction...importing a philosophy to deconstruct the language of architecture (Derrida, Deleuze)7. Situationism and Events...importing hedonistic temporal duration cinematic experience architecture crap (Debord, cinematic application of Bergson)8. Existenialism [sic], Power, and Dwellin...Heideger, Foucalt, etc...9. Blobs....10. Ribbons...11. High-Tech as style and justified by Sustainability12. Gehry Technoligies [sic] ....capable of making extremely complicated forms affordable and buildable via Catia platform based Digital Project13. Forms and Algorithms...I know you're saying how can you end it with a class you're taking. trust me its the end, and Forms and Algorithms is just another Brick in the Wall.

u penn blogosphere by metamechanic
U.Penn Blogosphere by metamechanic

see the cycle. clarity via scientific analysis rebelled against via artistic concepts, just to become scientific again... you're thinking, won't architects resort to rebelling again....what do you propose?

I have one answer for you...CAS's and Emergence....complex adaptive systems and emergence, a combo of phase transititions [sic] in physics, cellular automata, economics realization that their objects of study are agents of irrational behavior. in the world of architecture this means our forms and spaces evolve themselves via genetic rules and the enviroment [sic].

So why would Form and Space be dead?

well, emergence and CAS's exclude the designer from the design of forms and space. the designer designs the rules and lets it fly.Conclusion: the study of form and space in itself is dead, we've covered all the bases so let us move on to more important things...please!

Form and Space should be taught like English 101: i.e. this is a cube, cubes are useful for this, this is a blob, historically applicable as this...but no need in wasting hours of studio time justify Form and Space...

with that said I love my Forms and Algorithms class, i intend to use to exclude me from design decisions unless of course I want to make one, but I really don't feel like justifing [sic] form and space anymore, its so damn elementary.

a final thought
A Final Thought
  • “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.”
    • Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut, 1953–1994
zen 8
Zen 8
  • “When this transcendence occurs in such events as the first airplane flight across the ocean or the first footstep on the moon, a kind of public recognition of the transcendent nature of technology occurs. But this transcendence should also occur at the individual level, on a personal basis, in one's own life, in a less dramatic way.”
zen 9
Zen 9
  • “Such personal transcendence of conflicts with technology doesn't have to involve motorcycles, of course. It can be at a level as simple as sharpening a kitchen knife or sewing a dress or mending a broken chair.”
a w pugin
A.W. Pugin
  • 76 page book entitled “Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture”
  • Two great rules of design:
    • “there should be no features of a building which are not there for convenience, construction or propriety”
    • “...all ornament should consist in the essential construction of the building. In pure architecture, the smallest detail should have meaning or purpose.”
  • Rational Building = Monolithic Construction
john ruskin the seven lamps of architecture
John Ruskin: The Seven Lamps of Architecture
  • The Lamp of Truth:
    • Architectural Deceits
      • 1st: The suggestion of a mode of structure or support, other than the true one......
      • 2nd: The painting of surfaces to represent some other material than that of which they actually consist.....
      • 3rd: The use of cast or machine made ornaments of any kind.
pier luigi nervi 1961
Pier Luigi Nervi, 1961
  • “… the unlimited possibilities of design offered by scientific theories of construction, the executions made possible by new building materials and current techniques, and the architectural themes growing ever greater and more complex as dictated by our social and economic developments, open horizons of unprecedented possibilities of construction as compared to what humanity has achieved from prehistoric times to the present.
  • Nevertheless these marvelous possibilities cannot be fully developed if the three fundamental factors of any construction – the architectural concept, the structural analysis… and the correct solution to the problems of execution – do not proceed in close collaboration having as its aim the sole and unique goal of arriving at a proposed result combining functionality, solidity and beauty.”
aris konstantinidis architecture 1964
Aris Konstantinidis, Architecture, 1964
  • “Good architecture starts always with efficient construction. Without construction there is no architecture. Construction embodies material and its use according to its properties, that is to say, stone imposes a different method of construction from iron or concrete.”
sigurd lewerentz st peters
Sigurd Lewerentz: St. Peters
  • The column itself is not what it at first appears to be: split in two from top to bottom, its twin cross-trees – which are not symmetrical – carry at their extremities yet further beams which are also split into pairs. Upon these beams stand steel struts to support the metal ribs that support the brick vaults at both springing and ridgelines alternately. Then again, these ribs to the vaults are neither horizontal nor do they run parallel but expand and contract as they run from wall to wall. Lewerentz speaks of the vaults as a recall of the ancient symbol of the heavens, but here his treatment of them is strangely moving and insinuates into the mind a closer analogy to the rhythm of breathing – the rise and fall, the interlocking of expansion and contraction.
pjer feld 1983
Pjer Feld, 1983
  • “The use of a given material should never happen by choice or calculation, but only through intuition and desire.”
  • “The calculated column expresses nothing more than a particular number . . . In a world that is determined by calculation, material loses all capacity for the expression of constructive thought.”
  • “For the young architect each material is a measurement of strength. To apply the material to its ultimate capacity is natural for youth. The expression of this inherent force complements a natural vitality. The material's sensation carries its conviction and the energy of youth attains a structural perfection.”