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TECTONICS minor project by: Mathias Lind Klogborg [mlkl06] 7,semester, 24.

november 2008

semester is a part of the overall semester theme “tectonic design”.november 2008 Minor project: tectonic design (re-examination) Mathias Lind Klogborg . This repport is a part of the re-examination on Architecture and Design Contents Jørn Utzon Tectonics The Kuwait National Assembly . 01 01 03 04 05 07 08 08 09 10 . s. The project is an individual project.The Bazaar . with focus on the works of Jørn Utzon.Brief sum up Working with the tectonic system The final model s.semester.Additive system . who has shown great skills in working intuitively with the principles in tectonic design through his architecture.The parliament hall . s. s. s.mlkl06 Preface The minor project of the 7. 24. The second part of the project is about creating a tectonic system and use it to structure a model. s. In order to get an idea of the overall principles in tectonic design. s. different theories of the subject is presentet in the beinning of this repport. s.00 Titel page Aalborg University Architecture & Design 7.The canopy . s. The project takes its point in an analysis of the Kuwait National Assembly by Jørn Utzon. s.

Jørn Utzon spend a lot of his childhood watching his father building ships. where his father. where tectonics is the fundamental structure. who argues that tectonic is a kind of synergy effect from structure (inspired by gothic architecture – and described as “kerneform”) and representational ornaments (taken from the Greek – and described as “kunstform”). and stereotom- . Karl Bötticher was a 19’th century architectural theorist. Aage Utzon went to be a ship designer. Gottfried Semper argued that architecture consists of both tectonics and stereotomics. so you should always be able to separate the construction from the covering. and studied the way structure.Jørn Utzon Jørn Utzon was born in Copenhagen (1918) but he and his family moved to Aalborg. Bötticher is of the opinion that the ornament should underline and reveal the essence of the construction. which has introduced us to them in order to find our own understanding of tectonics. so in order to give some idea of the subject I will in this section refer to theorists who has tried to define tectonics. A principle which can be referred to as tectonics. but at the same time he also thinks that the ornament is a separate element from the structure. He designed the well known Utzon “Spidsgattere” and his father’s way of designing ships had very much influence on Jørn Utzon’s approach to architecture. material and design worked together in order to create the optimal shape. The theorists I am referring to were mentioned in the lectures of Phd student Ida wraber. In the end I will try to relate these theories to my own understanding of tectonics. He was also fascinated by nature and started to evolve a sense of poetic understanding of things in nature which he in his work as architect has used to create many of his architectural visions. 01 Tectonics Tectonics can be rather difficult to explain and understand.

related to the overall vision of the building. that architecture instead can be more or less tectonic. London. Framptons ideas of tectonics relates to my own understanding of the theory which very much is about clearness in the structure of a building and an elaboration of joints. As spectator to be able to see and feel the architect’s vision of a building. Also another important element is the joints which also communicate and articulate the construction.02 ics is the heavier constructions. Besides that I also believe that the “unifying concept” as Bötticher mentions or overall architectural vision is an important part of tectonics. As far as I see it. Clear structure. According to Frampton tectonics is something which comes out of a clear structure. Of cause that is somewhat a very wide description. Example of the basic structure in beams and columns. place/context etc. This term describes an “incoherency” between the loads and the support. Semper belives that the “essence of architecture lies in those knots and joints of a construction”. by Jørn Utzon. a building with a clear structure does not necessarily have to be tectonic because of that. but that can perhaps relate to the question if architecture can just be tectonic or not? Maybe it is not that black on white but more blurry. Bagsværd Church. The clear structure becomes the unifying concept. So in some ways Frampton’s view on tectonics very much relates to Semper’s. Sekler also introduced the term atectonic. By Foster+partners. and the visual expression of the building. Swiss Re Head Quarters. Parthenon. Especially. Sekler’s ideas have a close relationship with the ideas of Bötticher. ancient temple in Athens. is what gives architecture its honesty. How exactly the tectonics is expressed and the relationship between stereotomics and tectonics is highly dependent on factor such as climate. Kenneth Frampton is another 20th century architectural theorist. And that refers very much to Utzons work with the National Assembly in Kuwait. in order to “read” how the building is put together. Eduard Sekler who is a 20’th century theorist describes tectonic as the “visual play between construction an structure”. So as far as I see it. but that the clear structure in combination with the unifying concept gives the tectonic. “which also shows the logic of the structure”. .

Jørn Utzon’s vision of the Kuwait National assembly in a hand sketch. Besides the general building concept. from which a bazaar street emanates with small side streets. shows the principles in the additive system. and the winner of this completion was Jørn Utzon. . in order to create a structure in the building that is easy to assembly. which the rooms and interior courts were organized. Utzon works with a number of principles and systems. and suggested that a separate competition should determine how these buildings should look. at night 03 Plan drawing of the Kuwait National Assembly Utzon plan sketch. gives a poetic approach to creating architectural spaces. forming a network of paths around.Utzon is working very deliberate with “additive architecture” in organizing the lay out of the building. which during the oil boom. The four architects all suggested a site near the old palace. but most of all.The Kuwait National Assembly In 1968 the Kuwaitian government had invited four architectural offices to conceive a master plan for the city. Kuwait National Assembly. had been ruined. that spaces can be subtracted and added without altering the main structure of the scheme. which basically means. The general building concept of the Kuwait Assembly consists of a large covered plaza. as the place for government buildings.

lower the costs. Inside the half cylinder is a rectangular column that helps to support the roof. which I think is a shame according to ex. which stands as a formal passage to the building. The horizontal lines in the columns indicate that they are assembled by pre cast elements and not in situ made. to create a more honest expression according to the way they are assembled. So I believe. Utzon use to carry out his visions. A cylinder cut in half. facing the Arabic Gulf. with a curved “cut” in the top. Frampton theory. and make the building process simpler. . you will see some of the principles in the structure. But the cylinder shaped columns doesn’t support the roof structure alone. The idea of the canopy was to let the plaza be a more formal passage between building and landscape according to traditional Arabic architecture. The columns consist of half a cylinder with a curved cut in the top. which is done deliberately by Utzon. Illustration of the principle in the design of the columns. Looking at the structure you will see the footprints of this vision in the large almost organic columns that carry a huge curved concrete roof which gives associations to the Bedouin dessert tents. Although the structure seems very organic it consists of basic geometric volumes which roughly spoken has been “stacked” on top of each other. because logic of the structure might disappear a bit. they would probably have to be shaped differently and in larger dimensions. in way to advance pre fabricated elements. If the roof structure should have been supported by the cylinder columns alone. A principle that was very important to Utzon.04 The canopy Taking a look at the great canopy. Illustration of the great canopy. Utzon has chosen this solution in order to carry out his idea of the columns in the best way. which covers the large plaza.

it seems heavy. bottom right) between roof and building clearly shows how the structure is made. The detail clearly shows the structural principle. The curved surfaces indicate. it doesn’t seem logic or clear compared to the round arch which. because how do they “hang up there?” Looking at a traditionally round arch structure as in the Pont Du Gard Via Duct (illustration to the right) you can tell how the single stones in the arch “move” the forces. So although Utzons vision of the great canopy has been carry out in a beautiful way. as well as my own. because of the way they are used in the structure. because it seems logically. Compared to Alvaro Siza’a expo Pavillion (see ill. The arches seem logical. The cross section of the hanging roof structure is closed and therefore. a bit of a shame. and not light as a canvas. That i think differs from Utzons real vision and that seem to me like Utzon really wanted the roof to be a “light” concrete shell. But visually it seems wrong. I think Siza is more honest. Facts will tell that the roof is a combination of pre cast elements and an in situ cast solution. illustrates the clearness in the structure.05 Looking further at the roof structure I also find some problems according to tectonic principles. makes it less honest or less tectonic. Framptons theory of tectonic design. Portuguese pavillion. Looking at the roof structure at The Kuwait Assembly. The joint between the roof and the columns also makes the roof seem very heavy. And the visual joint (see Ill. I think. there are some things that may differ according to ex. because the cross section is closed in the end. hanging as a canvas in a Bedouin dessert tent which also makes the fact that the top of the roof is totally flat. Great concrete roof hanging as a light canvas. . Alvaro Siza. So according to Frampton the elaboration of the joint between roof and building makes it tectonic. just as the columns. that they are made by single pre cast elements. Pont Du Gard. compared to his vision of the roof and the actual solution. The roman Via duct. bottom right) with the great hanging concrete roof. and supports the vision.

The roof consists. in form of half a cylinder where a piece has been cut out and reversed. right). and seems very heavy. the cross section is also closed. Looking from the outside. to create a more differentiated look. . Here the columns are shaped just as the cylinder part of the columns in the canopy. but they are not supported by rectangular columns. again of simple geometric elements. The columns support beams which from where a roof is spanned. The “folded” beams gives a differentiated look Illustration of the principle in the design of the beams in the bazaar.06 The bazaar Compared to the great canopy. right). but it has no influence on the space inside. because it has a clearness and honesty in the structure. and it has been done in a way. you will see why Utzon has come up with this solution. the structure of the bazaar seems much more obvious and clear. The light gives a poetic tuch to the building. just as the roof at the canopy. The bazaar street at night. Especially when light falls on the structure. (see ill. Here the cylinder shaped columns support the roof entirely and it is very easy to see how the structure works. and that makes the bazaar much more tectonic. that creates a beautiful space (see ill. There is still a problem with the roof.

and relates the building to its context. which has been turned into a modular system. In order to prevent this Utzon has come up with a solution for most of the façade. made of simple geometric elements.) This “skin” is like other parts of the structure. That results in a very flexible system to create the plan. “Skin” of the building. but it also has its effect in the composition in the façade. Utzon works with a single “element” that can be modified by his wish. . A problem can be that the modularity in the scheme is creating a monotone expression in the façade. as mentioned earlier. Utzon has worked with the principles in “additive architecture”. which makes it possible to add a number of different functions. shows the principle in the additive system. The result gives a variation in most of the façade. (see ill. has becom a modular system. acording to traditional Arabic architecture.Additive system From the bazaar. which makes it easy to add or subtract elements. With inspiration in traditional Arabic architecture he has created an arcade that stands like a “skin” in front of the main body of the building. The whole scheme of the building is modular. which gives a authentic expresion to the building facade. 07 Plan drawing.

In that way Utzon use the structure actively in order to create a large open hall that can house the function that he wanted. But the additive system has made it possible to add another function. Utzon works with a number of administrative functions. gives a fabulous atmosphere in the room. then conceptually and for last carrying it out in a building is something that makes Utzon and his work unique. Utzon use the shape of the roof structure to create an indirect light. and all of them are placed in the main volume of the building which is about two storeyed high. (above) The overall building composition: The great canopy by the water. . without disturbing the rest of the modular additive system or his architectural vision. then the overall view of the building is positive. that I don’t find entirely tectonic. The big difference between the great canopy and the parliament hall is that the parliament hall is all indoor and that causes some other issues.The structure also makes space for an amfi shaped “scene” with seats for spectators and parliament members. And because of the principle in the structure there are no supporting columns in the center of the room that could stand in the way for a good view to the speaker. the main body of the building with the bazaar street crossing thru. first as a vision.08 The parliament hall In the modular plan. in terms of construction and structure. and the parliament hall rising from the additive system. That results in an open space with an almost divining light. Although there are some issues regarding the columns and the roof structure in the great canopy and the parliament hall. is the reason why I en general find this building tectonic. It stands as a contrast to the great canopy and the bazaar street. In order to give light to the great open space inside. The parliament hall. the parliament hall. The parliament hall basically consists of the same structural elements as the great canopy. The same principle Utzon used to be able to determine the shells of the Sidney Opera House mathematically. He uses the space between the columns to put in windows and get the light from the outside to reflect on the white ceiling. Especially the principle in working with simple geometries in order to create something more than just beams and columns. His approach to working with structure. and the way he has carry the vision out. with the indirect light. I find very pleasant. which cross through the main body of the building. Brief sum up Utzons vision of the Kuwait National Assembly.

There for the sides was given some angle. and as in the beams and columns in the Kuwait National Assembly are assembled by precast concrete elements. The obvious problem was that the strait sides did only develop in one plane. the upper part was cut away. but in order to get light into the structure. In order to relate my system to something in real life. Basically the module could consists of only four triangulere plates. Because the module is double symmetric it can be added in different ways. Afterwards I twisted the grid and added trusses so I ended up with a truss structure. is made of pre fabricated elements. my overall approach is to create some kind of building module which can be added multiple times and in the end make a span that can create space for ex. Thus. The key element in Utzons work. The Shells of The Sidney Opera. in order to create something “more”. as far as I see it. is the way he converts single geometric elements into something more. creating different irregular surfaces. so it would not be possible to get a curved or irregular surface. 09 . The angel was defined by the triangle in the middle. a pavilion. which made it possible to attach the modules to each other at their sides. my own works in creating a tectonic building system takes its point in a simple geometric approach. I first tried to work with a single beam element. and added with the center triangle so that the final module came to look like in the illustrations below. Then I tried to cut out the five elements in cardboard to see how they could connect to each other in a system. which has been put together basically like Lego (another Utzon favorite) just as the tiles on the shells. in order to establish some kind of grid for my structure.Working with the tectonic system The tectonic system should have its startingpoint in the principles Utzon works with in the National Assembly.

The idea is that the elements start almost in the plane and then grows up to create a grid shell like form. Just as Utzon has designed the beautiful columns in the Bazaar.10 The final model To discover the possibilities in the element. The overall question regarding the model is whether it is actually tectonic? According to Utzons way of designing the Kuwait National Assembly. the elaboration of the joints may not appear that obvious. whether the final product in this project. but the triangular shapes creates patterns that is easy to “read” and makes the overall principle of the structure rather clear. The triangular shapes creates a very poetic pattern which is reflected both inside and outside. can be directly referred to as being architecture or for that instance tectonic? . If that is the case one can discus. I made a physical model where I tried to take advantage of the ways the element could be assembled also with the goal to create space with the elements. which has no context. It consists of single elements that together create a shape that is more than the elements themselves. I believe that the principle in the model is pretty clear. in which it is placed and the socio-cultural frame of the observer. An interesting thing regarding to this minor project model is the theory of Semper who thinks that the conceiving of a work of architecture is always dependent of the context. If we look at the model according to Frampton.

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