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A DEEPER

STRUCTURAL
THEORY

Jrgen Mayer H,
Metropol Parasol,
Seville, 2010
Rendering of project
showing the columns
with mushroom-shaped
parasol and gridded
structure.

122

Nina Rappaport

123

Matthew Ritchie, Aranda/


Lasch and Daniel Bosia
(Arup AGU), The Dawn
Line, Phase 2, Arup
Gallery, London, 2009
below: Cellular modules
complete the sculptural
ensemble.

124
24
4

Reiser + Umemoto with


Ysrael A Seinuk, O-14
Tower, Dubai, 2010
right: Integrated systems
and structure in the
high-rise.

Naum Gabo, Sculpture for the


Bijenkorf department store,
Coolsingel, Rotterdam, 1954
right: Naum Gabo sculpture
emphasising interiority of form.

Mutsuro Sasaki and Arata


Isozaki, Train station competition
scheme, Florence, 2002
far right: Rendering showing
the organic quality of the
structural system.

A structural design paradigm


digm shift in
i architecture is enhancing
a holistic building tectonic
nic in which structure operates as a
generator of form. At once
nce intricate and fundamental, subtle
and dramatic, structure now demands
demand a deep and rigorous
rig u
theory
beyond
thatt of methods
heoo y be
e
m hods of standard
t ard
rd engineering
eengineer
ngin
practice.
p
c ic 1 Unlike
ke buildings
build n with skins
skin
n that
at are
ar mediatic
me
media c display
diiisplay
surfaces,
urfffaces,, a new
w structural
str
struc
uccctu a synthesis
ynthesis combines
coomb
bines bones
bone and
nd sskin
kin
similar
design
object.
im la ttoo an iintegrated
ntegra d industrial
i dustr al d
essign
n obj
ct. A structurally
ructu
u ally
led
from
Pugin,
e design
de g theory
the
h ory can
a complete
comp
pletee tthee ttrajectory
raje
j ctory
c
mP
Pu
g n,
decoration,
Ruskin,
with
w h thee interest
with
nterest in
in constructing
const ucting dec
coration, too R
u k n, w
wi
th
the
again
h interest
in rest in decorating
decor ingg construction,
const uctiion, and
and b
back
ack aga
gaain too a
holistic
Two
emerging
structural
h
holis
li ic
i iin
integration
tegration of structure.
tr cture Tw
o em
erging
ergi
i g st
stru
tu
uc ur d
design
esign
strategies
t at g es deep
d ep decoration
de o at on 2 aand
nd
d subtle
subtle
u e innovation
innovation
n provoke
proovoke a
complex,
structurally
om
mp
m
plexxx, stru
structurall
turallly
l based
bassed
s theory
the ry tthat
h rreturns
hat
e ns structural
etur
st uc ur design
design
too a cultural
technological
ultu
tural
ural
ural
r and
and tec
t c nol g cal holism.
holism
In
defi
In d
efinin
fining
i g a 221st-century
1 cen
ntu
n
t ry sstructural
ructturall theory,
t ry, the
theo
the engineers
eeng nee
work
can
taken
granted
neutral
wo
o ca
ork
an no longer
longer be take
akeeen
n fo
for gra
nted as a neu
r l sspeciality
pecci
c lity
in
architects
formal
n ttechnical
e hnical
i al prowess
p
prowes
owess that
that responds
responds tto
o an arch
tect s ffo
mal
inquiry
investigations,
creative
nq
qu ry oor ma
q
material
eria inv
estigations, but is a cre
ativ endeavour
nde vour
Engineers
thee m
mid-20th
century,
in
n iitss oown
wn
n righ
right.
h E
ht.
En
ngineers in th
d 20th ccentury
e turry, ssuch
entur
uch
h ass
Eduardo
Torroja,
understood
moree tthan
the
he Spaniard
h
Spaaniard
an ard Edu
Eduar
rdo Torr
oja, unde
rstoood
ood th
this
is as m
mo
han a
method
m
e hod ooff practice
practic and emphasised:
emphas sed The
he pro
he
process
cess oof vvisualizing
su
ual zing
or conceiving
structure
motivated
concei
eiving
iving
i a str
stru
ructu
u re is an art mo
ootivated
ivat d b
byy aan inner
nner
experience,
intuition.
never
mere
xp
p ien
pe
nce,
nc
e, by an in
ntui ion It is nev
n
e the
hee result
h
result ooff m
er
deductive
d
duc vee logical
logg cal reasoning.
re
reeasoning 3
This
creativity
more
T
hiiis defin
nition
itio of structural
tructura cre
t ty
ty is ever
ver m
r
evident
culture
technology
vi en in
n todays
today s ccultu
rre of
of tec
techno
hnolo where
h
where non-Cartesian,
nonnon C rteees a
non-hierarchical
and
non
n-hieer
erarchical
rchical an
an
nd asymmetrical
asyym
ymmetrical
metr c forms
orm
ms require
ms
require an
expanded
structural
spatial
performative,
xpan ed
d stru
structura
cturaal syntax,
syntax,
x both
both sp
pat and perfo
p
perform
r a ive,
e,,
for
or these
these increasingly
increasing
ncrea nggly integrated,
in
ntegrated,
nteg
ated, complex
compleex
ex projects
pr ject involving
invo v ng
collaborations
ollaborra
rations
ions between
betw
tw
ween engineers
w
ginee s and
an
nd architects.
r hitects. For
rchitects.
F
Fo example,
ex mple,
l
structural
truc ural typologies
typolog es can
c n be
b categorised
categor
cat gorr sed in
n a new
ew lexicon
lex
exxicon from
fo
continuous
exoskeletons
ont nuous floor-plate
oor-plate circulation,
c culati
exoskkeletons
eletons or
or long-span
l ng span
morphed
structures
asymmetrically
skewed
space-frames.
morp
hed stru
cture
t s in asymmetrica
asym
m
mme
rica
i ly sk
kewed
ewed spa
space
c fram
m s
Complex
topologies
non-linear,
forms
Com
plex top
logies oof non
-lin ar, bbiomimetic
iom
mimetic
met c fo
form
rm
ms aaree
expressed
work
engineer
Mutsuro
architect
xpr ssed in tthe
he w
ork of en
gineer Mutsu
M
uro
ro S
Sasaki
asak aand
d ar
rrchitect
Arataa Isozakis
scheme
Arat
Isozaki s Florence
Fl ren e train
tr in station
s ation competition
compe
co
ompetition
mpe ition ssch
cheme
mee
(2009).
Structural
2009).
) S
truc ural systems
syst ms derived
d i ed from
deriv
f om algorithms,
algo
l ithm
i hms, ffractals
acta s
or natural
natura structures
structures are
are then
th n combined
combined with intuition
intuition and
experience.
Such
xpe
p ience. S
ch design
desiggn shapes
shapes
p the future
futu e of complex
complex and
nonlinear
space.
nonl
near spa
cee.
Since
S
ince the work
work of DArcy
DA
D
A cy Thompson,
Thompson,4 tthee complexity
compl xity
of natura
natural structures
structures has
h s specifically
ally captured the interest
nte est of

engineers and, in a deeper understanding of the relationships


of elements to a whole in such instances as soap bubbles, coral,
bone, crystals, beehives or sponges, blurred the distinction
between the structure
itself. One usually thinks
re and the thing
th
of st
structure ass op
opening
expansive scientifi
n ng up space,
e butt an expa
entific
complexity
manifested
understanding
com
ty is man
i es ed iin
n an u
rstandin of filling
lling space
spa
with
structure
that
architect
h stru
ctur th
hat iss ooccupiable.
h
ccupiable In
n the 1920s,
1920
9 s, ar
hitect
Hermann
nature
Herman
m n Finsterlin
Fin er i discussed
discu sed the
th interiority
inter ority of organic
rrganic n
atur
as orga
organic
nic fform
o m lies
li s between
between crystalline
cr
crrys alline and
and the
th
h amorphous,
amorphous,
growing
Thee holism
grow
wing out of one
o e aanother.
on
nother. Th
ollism visi
visible
b tthrough
hrough
scientifi
analysis
and
structures
parallels
scien
ntificc ana
y is in b
biological
ological an
n n
nd
natural
natu
al struc
st
ruccctures para
lels
an iin
interest
architectural
nterest in arc
cchi c ural structure
s ucture and
d form
fform.
m In
In the 1950s
1950
95 s
Kathleen
Lonsdale,
crystallographer,
pattern
Kath
hleen Lo
da e a cryst
crystallog
allog
ll rapher, identifi
ident fied
d the
he patt
rn ooff
the so
solidity
the
atom
regularity
internal
structure
olid tyy ooff th
h at
he
tom
m as a reg
ular ttyy of
of the int
er all stru
cture
and developed
d e ooped X-rays
deve
X
X-r yss to photograph
photog
photograph the
th depth
dept of
of the
th
he crystals,
h
cry tals
noting
they
n iing
ng th
that
ha the
th have
havvve beauty
h
beauty in themselves
the
h m
mselves
mse
ves and
nd
d they
th y can be
b
obtained
infi
nitee variety
because
obtaaained
ned iin in
fini
fi
ariety bec
because the n
number
umb aand
nd kkinds
inds oof
crystals
unlimited.
c sstals
als iis unl
unlim
i ted
d .5
thee sa
same
Lancelot
proposed
At th
A
mee ttime,
me,, scie
m
scientist Lan
L
celot W
ccelo
Wh
White
i p
r p sed that
culture
c ure
ure was
was shifting
sh
shif
h ng from
frrom
o the
the
he simple
si
s mple towards
tow
ward the
the complex,
com
mplex,
m
p x,
plex
with
structure
h the result
resu t that
th
t t a modern
m d rn conception
mod
co
concep
ption
ptio
n of stru
uct e iis, ffor
o
some
atomism
s me
m purposes,
pu pose
p s replacing
ep acing
c ng the
the older
oolder conceptions
cconception ooff at
ttomism
and off ffo
form.
whole
form
r In
rm
I this
h s new
his
new relationship
relati
relatioonsh
h p of par
partss ttoo w
o e he
envisioned
natural
philosophy
coming
enviisioned
i ioned th
that
at a unifying
unifying
fying natu
ral p
hilosophy
hilo
h
sophy ooff tthee com
n
period
morphology,
doctrine
p iod
od may
may b
bee a mor
m
rphology,
rp
hology, a doc
rrine of fform
orm
m vviewed
wed aas
structure.
stru
tru
ucture .6 The
he relationship
he
reel tionship
onship of part
p
parts to whol
wholee wa
w
wass also
so exp
explicit
licit
in
Constructivist
n the
hee Construc
h
C nstru i i t ssculptures
culp ures of tthe
h 1960s
6 s by M
Max Bill, Naum
Gabo,
Richter
Erwin Ha
Hauer,
which
Gab
bo,
b
o, Ye
Yenceslav
ncesl Ric
R
chter
ch
er and
and Er
uer, in
n wh
h h voids
voids and
and
interchangeable
such
vvolumes
umes
u
mes are iint
n r hangeab
b e su
bl
ch that
that the
the interiority
interiorityy is
is fi
fil
fill
llled
ed
with
articulation
structural
ows
w
h a sp
spatial
atial aar
iculat
ulat on ooff str
uctural eelements
ements and
nd space
pace flow
flow
w
along
structure
sculpture,
doubling
surface.
alon
ngg a sstructur
n
ructurre of sculptu
l re, d
oub ing as su
rfac .7
Deep De
coration
Deep
Decoration
Renewed
Renewed inv
iinvestigations
estigations in
into
o the
th structu
structure
re of nat
natural
urall life
i
encourage
collaborations
typologies
encourage cross-disciplinary
cr ss-disciplina y co
llab rations leading
leading to typ
olog
l e
in
which
thee
nw
hich structure
structur is both
both subtle
ubt e and
and emphatic,
empha ic, aand
nd sseen
een in
n th
resulting
deep
decoration
holistic
spatial
structure.
The
resu ting dee
p de
oration ass a holis
olis ic sp
atia stru
c re. T
hee
integration
structural
provide
integration of
of stru
cturall elements
ellements that
that
h function
funct on and
an p
roviid a
decoration
Gestalt
psychology,
decoration thus
thus ccreates
eates a ccomplex
omp ex sspace.
pace In Gest
alt p
ychology
perception
understood
having
proximity,
perception is und
p
erstood aass ha
ing laws
aws of p
roximity gro
ggrouping
ping
and clos
closure,
demonstrating
thatt p
patterns
re, d
re
emonstratingg tha
pa
tern have
ve an innate
inn te appeal
appeal
because
relationship
between
things,
because of the
the visual
visuall continuity
continuityy and
d rela
ttion hip betw
een thin
hi g
where
whe e the
the knowledge
knowledge of the
th
hee pattern
h
pattern plays
pla s out
out continuously
continuously as
125
12
2

126

Guy Nordenson and


Michael Maltzan, Jet
Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, California, 2009
opposite: Interiority of the
structural system.

below: Project
development scheme
for structure showing
the gridded moment
frame.

bottom: Exterior
rendering.

Subtle innovation combined


with deep decoration creates a
new holism in such projects as
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
under construction in Pasadena,
California, by architect Michael
Maltzan with engineer Guy
Nordenson.

127
7

SPAN Architects
(Matias del Campo and
Sandra Manninger) and
Arkan Zeytinoglu with
Jeroen Coenders (Arup),
Austrian Pavilion,
Shanghai Expo 2010
below: Arup construction
sequence diagrams.

right: Axonometric
showing the
layering of structure
and space.

a satisfying visual array. Deep decoration therefore results from


integrating structure as part of a project where the parts to the
whole have a meaningful and necessary relationship.
One such example is The Dawn Line (2009), part of the
The Morning Line series by artist Matthew Ritchie. A
potentially inhabitable sculpture, it is both solid and void.
Mathew Ritchie, working with Daniel Bosia of the Advanced
Geometry Unit (AGU) at Arup London and architects
Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch who are fascinated with
crystals, here repeated algorithms of fractal geometries,
propagating self-similar structural, tetrahedron threedimensional cells. The bits, as they call them, can change in
scale and carry the weight of the aluminium alloy structural
assemblage. Here, it is the organisational principles one
seeking to integrate structure through the unity of surface
ornamentation, and the other seeking to maintain a structural
holism that create deep decoration.
A deep decoration structural syntax is also evident in the
current work of Reiser + Umemoto, such as their O-14 Tower
in Dubai (2010) designed with engineer Ysrael A Seinuk.
The 22-storey building has a structural skin that is holistic as
performative decoration. Over a thousand apertures, whose
size and orientation is determined by the sun angles and views,
puncture a 40-centimetre (15.7-inch) thick concrete shell
resulting in an expressive relationship to the structure.
The structural composition of Jrgen Mayer Hs Metropol
Parasol marketplace and cultural centre in Seville (2010),
designed with engineer Volker Schmid from Arup, played
a large part in the projects ultimate design. For the initial
competition scheme, the buildings skin contained an empty
volume. As Schmid developed the project, a gridded structured
volume in timber, cut like a topiary tree within the parasol,
enabled the asymmetrical shape. The volumes northsouth
rectangular grid was thus juxtaposed with the organic outline of
the parasol, resulting in both curves and linearity in a sculptural
design similar to cutting through a tree trunk to reveal the rings.
The deep decoration results in a holism of interiority as it relates
to the expressive form.
Subtle Innovation
Other methods of design have also informed structures in terms
of the integration of subtle innovations small structural
128

A continuous ramp leads


towards the recessed
entrance of the building,
creating a seamless
connection between
interior and exterior.

manoeuvres that impact the architectural design of a project in a


larger way. Peter Rices inventive glass curtain-walls with their
spider-like clips for projects such as the Pyramid at the Louvre
by IM Pei (1985), allow the glass to appear to be floating in
weightless suspense. The structural facade of Beinecke Rare
Book and Manuscript Library (1959) at Yale University, designed
by Gordon Bunschaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with
engineers Paul Weidlinger and Matthys Levy, is a far-reaching
experimental design. The grid of steel columns and beams acts as
a girder, or multistorey Vierendeel truss, which spans to the four
edges of the rectilinear building with the columns inset from the
corners, organising the building design as a cohesive object. An
invention of the engineers, rather than the buildings architect,
its weight is offset by a luminous stone and structural subtlety.
Subtle innovation combined with deep decoration creates
a new holism in such projects as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
under construction in Pasadena, California, by architect
Michael Maltzan with engineer Guy Nordenson. For the
design of the planned 8,918-square-metre (96,000-square-foot)
administration building, they were asked to make a flexible
and collaborative interior workspace in a highly seismic zone.
Nordenson, working with engineers Simpson Gumpertz &
Heger, conceived of a distributed core structure rather than a
traditional monolithic central core. This point of innovation
formed a dynamic, interconnected structure, reflecting and
fostering the institutions inventive spirit.
The lateral-resisting structure is organised along four
vertical diaphragms that extend north and south, dividing
each floor plate in three, and in three again, forming a
nine-square grid that scatters the building cores vertical
shafts to form a series of double-height collaboration spaces,
like a three-dimensional tick-tack-toe. The four frames are
a combination of moment frames and break frames and
visibly transverse the building, functioning to resist the
seismic forces. Diagonal braces stiffen the structure, and are
positioned to maintain the open circulation. The diagonals
are scattered in a confetti-like quality populating the four
planes and are visible in the elevation, informing the facade
and the patterning of the square apertures and also creating
the deep decoration. The facade is thus integrated with
the structure as a tessellation, reflecting both inwards and
outwards the complex structural interiority of the project.

Holistic and fluid buildings push the limits of space-making guided


by the geometries responsible for Gottfried Sempers knot, the Klein
bottle, and the Mbius strip, as well as non-linear space as defined by
Gilles Deleuze or Manuel De Landa. For example, non-linear forms
can result from a smooth Deleuzian space between the structure and
the space itself, singularising it as a radical modelling. Holism provides
a meaningful paradigm wherein interiority is a synthesis of structural
elements.
SPAN Architects design, with Arkan Zeytinoglu of Zeytinoglu
ZT GmbH, for the Austrian Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo
2010, was a collaboration with engineer Jeroen Coenders of Arup
Amsterdam that resulted in a holistic volume based on efficiency in
the nature of topological organisation. Four structural elements a
tripod framework, cantilevered truss, castellated beam and a main
box-girder spine in the middle allow for the opening of a continuous
volume that loops around a central courtyard. The topological
organisation mimics the efficiency of natural structures such as bones,
being expressive, fluid and connected. The building becomes at once
formal, performative, hybrid, decorative and structural.
In the synthesis of structure and form, structure as deep decoration
combined with subtle innovation has evolved from a new culture
of technology and design, shaping complex space and resulting in a
structurally led design theory. This new structural theory reveals a space
that parallels the understanding of the complexity of natural structures,
leading to an even more expansive potential for a new structural
paradigm and design aesthetic. 1
Notes
1. The basis for a good structural practice since Eiffel has been that of efficiency,
economy and beauty. While significant as a set of principles, this is not a theory of
structure but a method of practice.
2. Nina Rappaport, Deep Decoration, 306090, Princeton Architecture Press (New
York), Fall 2006, was the first publication to define this concept.
3. Eduardo Torroja, Philosophy of Structures, trans JJ Polivka and Milos Polivka,
University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1958, p 313.
4. The early 20th-century biologist and zoologist DArcy Thompson is a continued
reference by both historical and contemporary designers and engineers for his detailed
descriptions of animal structures in his 1919 book, On Growth and Form.
5. Kathleen Lonsdale, Crystal structure, in Gyorgy Kepes (ed), Structure in Art and
Science, George Braziller (New York), 1954, pp 3589.
6. Lancelot White, Atomism, structure, and form, in Kepes op cit, pp 202.
7. George Rickey, Constructivism, Origins and Evolution, George Braziller
(New York), 1967.
Text 2010 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Images: pp 122-3 Jrgen Mayer H Architects; p 124(l)
Matthew Ritchie, photo Stephen Brayne; p 124(r) Imre Solt; p 125(l) Nina Rappaport; p
125(r) Arata Isozaki & Associates; pp 126-7 Michael Maltzan Architects, Inc; pp 128-9
SPAN 2010, photo Alfred Roider

129

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