Rational Form Making

Optimization precedes superfluous forms. In search for freedom in aesthetics, the disciplines of architecture and structural design have always worked hand in hand in expanding new possibilities for form finding and space making. Rationality is the central tenant of the modernist’s approach to architecture, tracing back to the traditions of logic and order of the Classicism of Greece and Rome. There have been two major trajectories in architecture within the structural conceptual approach in the period since the beginning of the 20th century. The first is the gradual reduction of mass, as exemplified in the Maison Domino and the Miesian language. The other is the transition from clear Euclidian geometries in spatial structures – such as the Pantheon – to a return to naturalism and free forms.

This seminar highlights the collaboration between architects and structural designers in the pursuit of new possibilities of form making. The guiding doctrine in this collaborative relationship has been that of structural rationalism, as expounded upon by the work of Brunelleschi and Viollet-le-Duc. Loads are the fundamental requirements of constructing architecture. We will look at the works on the collaboration of architect Louis Kahn with engineer August Komendant, Renzo Piano with Peter Rice, Rem Koolhaas with Cecil Balmond, Toyo Ito and Kazuyo Sejima with Mutsuro Sasaki, and Junya Ishigami with Yasutaka Konichi, among others. Through research and model making, the goal is to discover new methods that can generate rational and poetic forms. This seminar introduces students to the possibilities of close integration between structural concept and architectural design to engender an integrated holistic approach to architecture.