Finding a third archetypal technical system in architectural phenomenology

Sandra Costa Santos

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Within the scope of phenomenology and in order to understand architecture, the role of the technical system is as important as those of the purpose of the building or its form. Mass construction and skeletal construction relate to the architectural theory concepts stereotomy and tectonics respectively, which are suitable for describing the fundamental structural and constructive form of architecture. These two systems became established as man built his first shelters and, so far, represented opposite sides of the building industry’s possibilities. The development of new construction techniques and the relationship between research and technology have a great impact on architecture, although new processing methods and materials may not necessarily cause genuine tectonic changes. The technical dimension of architecture is analysed in this work describing how technical elements are built from materials, and then organised in systems. First, the paper examines the division of technical systems in two categories (massive systems and skeletal systems); then it studies timber’s modern production technologies and subsequently the paper critically analyses how these influence the architectural form. The paper concludes that a third archetypal technical system can be perceived with the assembly of surface elements, joining both the multifunctional aspect of the massive systems and the flexibility of the skeletal systems, this third category being fundamental in phenomenological terms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventArchitecture and Phenomenology Second International Conference - Kyoto
Duration: 1 Jan 2009 → …


ConferenceArchitecture and Phenomenology Second International Conference
Period1/01/09 → …


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