Processes: Form, Material, Force
SKIN + SKELETON
2D + 3D
SOLID + VOID
In the field of structural engineering, it is important to establish an essential differentiation between structural analysis and structural design. While the former involves the capacity to extract and apply mechanical principles to calculate, dimension, and optimize structural elements in a building, the latter requires, in addition, the capacity to integrate harmonically efficiency and aesthetics. This demands implicit attention regarding formal economy in terms of cost and energy, that is, a sound and balanced use of materials and resources. According to the definition stated by the Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, this economy is based on “the method of bringing dead and live loads down to the foundations … with the minimum use of materials”. Nevertheless, in the case of the structural designer, the economy of resources is consubstantial with the formalization of an elegant solution. This condition was effectively described by the Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste: “The resistant virtues of the structure that we make depend on their form; it is through their form that they are stable and not because of an awkward accumulation of materials. There is nothing more noble and elegant from an intellectual viewpoint than this; resistance through form”. Hence, the art of structures establishes a close relation to Nature as a reference in the search for efficient and beautiful forms. This is the base of the form-finding methods and design processes developed by structural engineers such as Frei Otto, Heinz Isler, Robert Maillart, Felix Candela, Eduardo Torroja, Eladio Dieste, Pier Luigi Nervi or Sergio Musmeci. Their experimental models and construction processes incorporate an implicit idea of continuity in terms of the material expression of forces in accordance with the triad form, material and forces.