Structural Art vs. Architecture
This must be my first term at Tufts that I am in love with all my classes…one of which is a class “The Art of Building” by Prof. Eric Hines at the Civil Engineering Department. Anyway the focus of class is on what is known as ‘structural art’.
Structural Art is a modern engineering tradition, arising in late eighteenth and nineteeth century, whose ideals are based on the three e’s: efficiency, economy and elegance.
Accordingly to the D. Billington (princeton eng. prof and author of the book ‘tower and the bridge’….
structural art differs from architecture in the respect that it primarily deals with objects that are of relatively large scale and of single use and see forms as the means of controlling the forces of natures to be resisted. While architects give form to objects that are relatively small scale and of complex use and see design as a means of controlling space used by people.
In Billington’s book he describes scenarios illustrating when structural engineers and architects venture into the other’s realm, they don’t tend to do so well. Collaborations between the two seldom yield good results. But sometimes, and more recently, they work out extremely well when the structural engineer and architect can put aside their egos, and use their expertise to enrich’s each others control of form.
I am not so much interested in the distinction between the two because the basic ideals behind structural art and architecture are one and the same: economy, efficiency and elegance. Id like to think good architecture (be it of large/small scale and single/complex use) IS structural art….although examples of this are few.
Here is an example I came across last year which comes to mind. A house built by the architecture firm Ensamble Studio–(principal architect Antón García- Abril). So it it small scale yet its form is determined by both a consideration of form that deals with the forces of nature as well as an efficient shaping of space.
Click below for a more detailed description + youtube video of building: