Today, while I was walking on campus, I began to think about how architecture values art and engineering.   This thought particularly came to me upon reflecting on the SOM 2012 Prize Winner Mr.Kryvozub’s submission to the competition, which was a masterful, artistic submission that did address some technical design aspects.  Architecture, interestingly, as a discipline that resides at the intersection between art and engineering, does not favor each equally.  Typically, it seems, architecture is more reliant upon art in forms of presentation and engineering in terms of execution.  This typically results in the academy placing greater emphasis on artistic ability and the profession placing more emphasis on technical proficiency.   It is at the idea stage of architecture where art must be employed to communicate the project.  The idea must be communicated visually to a varied audience, with the technical problems reserved for later renditions to contractors or the client’s boards.   Not until the idea has been sold to the client or the public do the technical problems need solving; one does not need to know the type of foundation a building must employ or the exact size of the structural elements at the conceptual phase.  Furthermore, given the focus of architecture on space and surface, structure often is hidden behind a visual layer, making this even less important to “figure out” during the conceptual phase of the design process, as it has little visual impact on the spatial experience.

It is apparent when viewing Mr. Kryvozub’s portfolio that art has the ability to seduce and communicate simultaneously, giving rise to emotions and sensations in the viewer.  Technical proficiency can do no such thing, but it can convey logic, order, and a comprehensive thinking that lead towards the actually production of the project.  My projects typically aim to simultaneously convey both technical and creative aspects, asking of the viewer to partake in both the visual image and its notation of construction.  This choice is driven by my own interest in how the construction logic and assembly creates the architectural project.  Given that structure is the primary driver of form, I believe its communication is essential in understanding the building as an entity that not only is experience, but also as an asset that outlives the performance of its surfaces.

Architectural practices have acknowledged this emphasis of “art” or revealing of “technical proficiency” differently.  Some practices, such as Renzo Piano Building Workshop emphasizes the concept and technical proficiency simultaneously, in diagrams that primarily use sectional views that show columns, roofs, and environmental factors.   Other practices, such as SHoP, convey technical proficiency and construction concepts as part of promoting their design concepts, aiming to illustrate their proficiency while also mobilizing the imagination of contractors and developers alike, showing how economy and aesthetics intersect.  This often communicated through flow or web diagrams illustrating relationships between the parts or in 3D revit Diller Scofio + Renfro, a more researched based practice, emphasizes the visual experience and atmosphere, with the technical information communicated elsewhere from the conceptual drawings.

It is understandable therefore, that either an emphasis on art or technical proficiency communicates different messages to those who view and purchase architectural services.  Each student or architect thus frames their abilities through their representation methods. 

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