Structure, Infrastructure, and Ornament

With the rise of digital design and fabrication, ornament is back. Its return has been accompanied with recurring interrogations regarding the need to redefine tectonics, and more generally to revisit critically the link between architecture and structure. Once thought essential, this link appears weaker today. Paradoxically, while the fundamental role that modernism had attributed to structure is being challenged, the relation between architecture and infrastructure has intensified. Many contemporary projects play on the blurring of the frontier between architecture and infrastructure.

Structure, infrastructure and ornament: the seminar will examine the past and present interactions between these three components of architecture and the built environment. On the one hand, despite their apparent opposition, ornament and structure share a number of common characteristics. On the other hand, structure and infrastructure are more different than what one often assumes. The play between these three notions enables to raise some fundamental issues regarding the way architecture is to be understood.

The seminar will give an importance place to reading and discussion. In addition to regular attendance and participation to the collective reflection, the students enrolled will give a presentation on a topic related to the themes covered in the seminar. The presentation will serve as a starting point to develop a final paper.