Individual Project

Individual Project
Percent of Total Grade: 15%

1 title page, 4 pages of photos, 2 or 3 pages of diagrams, and 1 or 2 pages of text
Uploaded as a one PDF file to Canvas

For this project, you are going to explore how a building structure helps organize the plan, and how it can create dramatic architectural spaces.
Select two buildings that you find interesting. The roof of one should have a trabeated construction (post and beam, or frame), and the roof of the other should have a masonry load-bearing construction (arches, barrel vaults, groin vaults, and domes).
Each building should have primarily one large, dramatic interior space, like a church, an assembly hall, a grand staircase, a striking great room, etc. You should be looking for a grand space that is clearly shaped by its structure and constructional system.
Look for really significant and dramatic buildings, the kinds that would astonish you when you first walk into the main space. Feel free to use buildings you have seen in the lectures, or buildings you can find online.  You may also use buildings that you can go visit and photograph yourself, if you can get permission at the building to do so.  If you do this, you will still need to find plans and sections of the building online or in books.
We would like you to prepare photos showing the building inside and outside, and diagrams illustrating how the structure organizes the space. Using this material as evidence, we would then like you to write an essay describing how structure helps organize space, and how this affects your emotional response to the space.
Here are the individual elements of the hand-in, and how we will score them:

You should present two pages of photos for each building, four pages in all. These should show:
1.    Overall views of the exterior of the building.
2.    Overall views of the interior of the main space.
It is up to you how many photos you show; but keep in mind that the more photos, the less presence each one has on the page. The priority should be on interior photos.

A well selected photo will have the following characteristic:
•    An external photo shows the main massing of the design, showing the external expression of the main interior space if possible.
•    An interior photo expresses well the dramatic main space. We can understand how it must feel to be in the space.

We would like you to draw diagrams over the plan and sections for each building, showing how the structure help organize each building and shapes its main space. You may choose either to draw over a print of the plan and sections, and then scan it in to the computer, or draw electronically directly over the digital image.
Your should provide a separate diagram for each of the following:
1.    The basic structural geometry of each plan.  This should show any primary and secondary lines of symmetry, a grid showing the layout of structural columns, and in the load-bearing masonry example, the lines of intersecting groins in the ceiling vaulting.
2.    The basic geometry of each section, showing the shape of the ceiling in the main space, and how it sits on the main space below. This should include showing any structural elements, like trusses, large beams, etc. You might need to show a section cut in both directions (longitudinally, and cross-section, for example) to best explain how the space is shaped.
Good diagrams will have the following characteristics, as described in the previous project:
•    It is clear and easy to see.
•    It is simple enough to understand instantly.
•    It is believable.

We would like you to write an essay exploring how different types of structural systems shape space differently, and create different feelings inside. Please discuss the following, using the photos and diagrams as evidence to support your assertions:
1.    For each building, describe how its structural system works. That is, describe how loads are carried from the very top and center of the roof down to the ground. Think of how a weight of a person standing on the roof is systematically carried down and through each structural element.
2.    For each building explain how the structural system helps shape the spaces it contains. For example, “the dome structure creates a high, round space, both in section and in plan.” or, “the rows of columns subdivide the space into visually linked sub-spaces.”
3.    Explain how each space feels to you. In your sentences use vivid words like grandiose, intimate, embracing, spiritual, rational, cozy, uplifting, etc.
4.    Summarize which one you find more interesting, in terms of beauty, drama, rational clarity or emotional complexity, etc.
A good essay composition and structure will have the following characteristics:
•    It has a clear opening statement. For example, “In this essay, I have explored two different types of structural systems, showing how they shape the spaces and create strong feelings inside.  I have looked at a trabeated building, xxx, and a load-bering masonry building, yyy.”
•    Each building is separately described, explaining first how it works, and then how it feels.  For example, “The first building’s structural system works like…” and then, “It creates a feeling like…” Then the same for the next building.
•    It offers a summarizing statement. This sums up your main argument.  “In conclusion, both buildings show how a clear structural system helps organize a building and shape space. The one works by…, and the other by,…”. and then,  “I prefer the second because….”
•    It has correct grammar and spelling. As explained in the first project.
•    It avoids jargon. As explained in the first project.
Essay content (20% of the project grade)
Good essay content will have the following characteristics:
•    Arguments refer to specific and concrete evidence as seen in the photographs and diagrams.  An example would be, “Diagram 2 shows how the barrel vault carries the roof load through the action of an arch, and the barrel vault rests on an arcade consisting of arches and piers.” Or, “large trusses carry the weight of the roof to the large beams around the perimeter, and these are supported on columns carrying the weight to the ground”
•    The descriptions clearly help the reader understand how the system carries weight to the ground, and the feelings evoked in the spaces enclosed. Ask a friend who does not know the building to read your essay, and see if they clearly understand the building from your writing.

Overall organization and presentation
The hand-in should be designed as a coherent, visually attractive package.

Presentation structure (5% of project grade).
A good structure has the following characteristics:
•    It has a title page. It should include a title block with your name and major, the name and semester of the course, the date, and the title “Structure and Space”. It might also include graphic elements that give an indication of the content to follow, for example, a photo and/or diagram of the building you are discussing.
•    The sub-sections are clearly labeled. In this case, we have three sections, the photos, the diagrams and the essay.
•    The photos and diagrams are numbered and labeled, so they can be referred to in the essay.  An example would be, “3. The view looking down the nave.”

A good appearance has the following characteristics:
•    The pages are visually well composed.  As described in the first project.
•    The fonts reinforce the character of the presentation, without becoming the main focus of attention. As described in the first project.

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