Building Principles

Students: BAAS Year 2, 2019 Fall


‘There is simply no Architecture without Structure’ Jean Prouve

This course addresses the fundamental principles of structure. It presents building structures in masonry, timber, concrete, steel, glass and composite and examines the structural possibilities and limitations of these materials. It seeks a broad understanding of the reciprocal dependencies of structure, material and construction and their impact on architectural design.


This core course was taught in lecture series in 3 blocks, focusing on structural principles, structural systems, and material.

The students were asked to:

maintain a handwritten, individual, well-structured, comprehensive diary, that documents the lessons learned, the questions asked, and the experiments conducted through text, sketches, technical drawings, photos and collages.

create a physical, educational model, exhibiting structural principles. This model displays the simple, but fundamental behavior of linear elements under tension, compression and bending, and the relationship of load, system, element and supports. Each team picked from a pool of topics and use predefined materials, formats and annotations to build an interactive display.

choose a reference project and adapt its design to build a partial model at 1:20. The model showcases a spatial arrangement of primary and secondary structure and supports, including exterior (and interior) facades. Special focus is set on the specific use of materials, and how they influences the sizing, connection of members as well as the overall space and elevation.

Learning outcome

+ Learn about the behavior and terminology of tectonic systems, material properties, structural principles, in correspondence to a historic, technical and social context.+ Critical reflection of structural behaviour in relation to form and topology and spatial impact of architectural design.

+ Develop an intuitive understanding of structural behavior, the dependence of form and force, and its impact on structural design.

+ Attain the skill to communicate structural constructive systems efficiently through drawings and presentations.

+ Attain the ability to critically situate a specific work of architecture and elaborate on its broader intellectual pursue and social and historical context.