Structure and Pattern
Henri Labrouste, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Main reading room, 1859-68.
Structure is not simply about performance, about the length of a span, the weight of a beam and the ease of construction. These are the pragmatic engineering qualities of a structure. The design of a structure should be, in the first instance, about atmosphere, space and beauty.
Just think of the fan vaults of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. The expression of the vertical structure has been reduced from columns and pilasters to narrow bands of fine stone fluting. These half round flutes are gathered together at their base and at the eave. Overhead they spread and are woven together like the canopy of a forest. The roof structure in the reading room of Labrouste’s Bibliothèque National in Paris combines the image of the roman bath and its two thousand year tradition of monumental civic space, with the gravity defying lightness of its innovative structure. The fine fluting of the column shafts hold the diminutive composite capitals at their head. These carry the arched and articulated iron trusses, which in turn hold the domes with their painted decorative bands. This flat and even application of ornament resonates with the open and diagrammatic spatial continuity of the reading room. Finally, picture Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs of northern European industrial facades. Glass, steel and brick are given an equivalence within a network of lines and textures. It is unclear whether glass or brick is the more fragile material within these assemblies, and the thin lines of steelwork are as much like a gridded drawing lending a character to the façade, as they are a structure holding it in place.
Industrial Facades 119, Bernd and Hilla Becher.
This semester we will design such a structure. We will begin by working on a part of the structure in great detail, a part that will explore the relationship between decorative and structural pattern, between the delicate detail and the overall atmosphere and spatial qualities of the structure.
The project will be located along the banks of the Limmat. It will be for one major space, along with a few, simple support spaces. The structure should have a festive spirit, and in order to encourage this quality we will ask that the structure be designed to have a ten year life span (the world is, of course, filled with very old temporary structures). This civic structure could be used in different ways throughout the year. It could be a place for festivals, for markets and for exhibitions; it could be a new market hall or a kunsthalle.
The studio will be led by Adam Caruso and Peter St John in collaboration with Daniel Bosshard and Meritxell Vaquer. The assistants will be Oliver Lütjens and Tibor Pataky. Adam or Peter will be in the studio at least one full day per week, with the other members of the team available for both the studio days.
Arbeitsort: HIQ CO 1/2
Exercise Type: O
Introduction: 17th February 2000, 10 am, HIQ C 1