Architectural Structure & Enclosure Design

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20.202 Architectural Structure & Enclosure Design


Sam Conrad Joyce

Course Description

The Architectural Structure & Enclosure Design course introduces the interplay between design and physics. Looking at how buildings can be designed to be imbued with a sense for the forces and mechanics which dominate their forms in the real world.

The course seeks to fuse intuition and computation into a continuum of physical calculation which informs safe and environmentally efficient designs whilst supporting creativity. It does this by exploring the iterative process of model making, speculative testing and experimentation both physical and digital.

This is realized though the repeated action-based learning by doing with students working to build performance orientated structural models, firstly this is done live in workshops with a proposed ‘toy’ physical scenarios and linking to real work at various scales to explain the context and architectural relevance, then asking students to undertake structural inquires though fast prototyping. Their final designs in these sessions are then collectively tested, enabling students’ exposure to a range of solutions to reflect on both the ideal performance requirements of the system and the relative success of each of the design to them.

The second phase then is taken slower more considered group design phase with students asked to create more refined solutions given more complex briefs and work over a longer period of a week using digital tools and more precise physical modelling. These final designs compete against each other in a more highly specified friendly competition. With aesthetics, construction elegance and performance traded off.

Ultimately a final project is undertaken combing the structures courses learning. Students are required to design, protype, simulate, and test a 1:1 full-scale structure that has to literally and figuratively stand up to the real world. One that is tested as a real structure would be to bring the students full circle that structures are real and tangible and ultimately impact the built environment.

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