Earth tremours are usually cyclic, so anything like rubber plugs will
certainly help. I've experienced a Richter 7.8 in PNG, and seen what
happens to structures in similar shakes. In timber structures, multi-bolted
plates are preferable to single bolts, also trussed structures work well.
In PNG joints in traditional buildings are constructed out of a complex
weave of bush vine; acts as a torsion joint - moves, but tightens as it
Much depends on the land form and geotechnics. Gravelly, sandy soils absorb
the shock waves well, but there may be landslides. Soldered copper pipes
more likely to burst that threaded compression joints. A 7.8 in Mexico City
will cause far more destruction because its all clay in a bowl of rock -
wobbles like a jelly. I guess the problem in SF would be shear. The whole
west side is slowly on its way to Hawaii ...
Is PNG Papua New Guinea...? Maybe I can fond some pic online. I relaly
like that idea, intertwined materials to create a cabling system.
SHeathe it the way scales sheathe a lizard's body or a bird's foot. SO,
rather than flat rigid bsum-board walls, have a system of membranes (to
hold in insulation) and overlapping planes... Problem is, I don't
knowwhether that's an interesting idea, or just a nutty idea =:-o
If it's actualyl an *interesting* idea, maybe I should try to model
something in 3D, now that my system is finally fully-working again ;)
That sounds logical. Also, much of SF Iincludingalmost all of downtown)
is, it turns out, built on soils that are guaranteed t undergo
A Google for "haus tambaran" (Sepik Province) will produce examples of
the type of building where vine is used as a torsion joint between a
heavy beam and a column. I didn't find any where you can see a joint
detail. These buildings are sometimes three storeys high and full of
carvings, so the structural details tend to get overlooked.
Thanks, there are a lot of references, looking through them now.
Structureal details do often tend to be either ovelooked, or deliberately
hidden. I know that part of the "Modernist" movement was to lay them
bare, but the results are IMO very seldom aesthetic. So it strikes me
that ti's an inherent dichotomy in architecture, i.e. the balance between
revealing the structural workings, and concealing them...
If done correctly, designing with a logical structure and developing fine
structural details produce some of the finest architecture. What is a Gothic
Cathedral but a giant structural diagram of forces, in stone, from roof peak
to grade. Greek and Roman temples and Roman baths are visible structures.
Domes are structures that visibly bear the weight. A bridge structure,
clearly delineating the forces that hold it up, is certainly more naturally
pleasing to the eye than FOG stuff. The list of beautiful structures is
endless. A great and logical structure is a joy to behold.
No doubt (good image sources, whether books or URLS, are always welcome
;) ) - OTOH, I've seen it where things like pipes and ductwork are left
exposed in a way that strikles me as being either affectatious, or
cheap/lazy (or worse, both). It's one thing to be able to trace lines of
force and so on, but I think there is more to revealing the structure,
than merely leaving pipes and valves naked, especailly when they just end
up collecting cobwebs and soot and so on. Wall surfaces/finishes were
invented for a reason, I think. Even if I lived in a loft and wanted to
see the gridwork, it seems to me that maintenence would be something of a
That being said, your points below are good ones:
It's true that that those examples represent a balance between structure,
and the concealment of structural workings. I suppose that "dichotiomy"
was not the right word for me to use, and "infrastructure" (pipes,
wiring, ductwork, etc) might also be more accurate than "structure" -
although I've seen those things *called* (in books) part of the
At the same time, tho', taking, for example, the Roman bathsyou
mentioned, I find myself doubting that, had the Romans had clear heat-
tolerant flooring available, they'd have used it specifically to allow
patrons to view the workings of the heating system...
Nor would I, but those items can often be incorporated within the structural
structure or other systems devised to move the air. Exposing the structure
in most minor buildings would just be messy. The engineer and the architect
should work together (or be the same person) from the beginning of a major
project to make it work. See Calatrava's and Nervi's work for structure and
architecture working together. To my understanding the MEP systems are not a
part of the structure.
Is that Santiago Calatrava...? I googled "Calatrava"+(arcchitect OR
archtiecture) and got a numer of returns on Santiago Calatrava. I'm
looking through his website now, actually
( http://www.calatrava.com/main.htm )
and so far, I'm finding the work quite beautiful, so Many Thanks for that
reference :D ! THat articulation is interesting. I'm not educated in
"archispeak", so I don't know what the correct terminology would be, but Im
reminded of dragonfly wings, diatome skeletons, and otehr articulated
organic/biological structrues. The Tenerife Opera House is IMO
particularly beautiful, along with the bridges in general. I'm still
looking through the site.
Anway, there, yes, structure as art and art as structure.
It is entirely possible (and even probable) that what I'd had in mind was
not the "Architect-Artist-Engineer" but rather the work of people who are
trying to be all of that but not quite cutting it, and resorting to
affectations as a result...?
Obviously, the work of Calatrava is nothing at all like those peole who
seem to think that just letting ductwork and piping and wiring hang out is
"exposing the structure". Calatrava isn't merely exposing pipes and beams.
There is simply no comparison.
Unfortunately, a lot fo people fall for words rather than looking
at/experiencing the work.
IMO, if something needs 2 pages of polysyllabic (polysyBABBLic!) jargon to
make sense, it isn't art, and IMO isn't good work.
Anyway, thanks again for the reference, I'm enjoying it quite a lot.
I think he also designed the Athens Olympic Stadium. I like his work as it
transcends architecture and structure.
I have only done a few jobs where the structure and architecture worked
together. The one I liked the best was in NH, a 25 meter x 6 lane pool with
5' deep gluelam beams, gluelam columns, exposed 1.25" diameter galvanized
steel wind bracing with big exposed turnbuckles, and custom galvanized steel
connections co-designed with the structural engineer. That complex also had
a fieldhouse with 10' deep steel trusses (painted bright red) spanning
132'. In that complex we did attempt to integrate the HVAC into the design.
Also used solar heating with oil backup. It was and is a gutsy complex, with
systems highlighted in a 1979 DOE conference in Norfolk VA.
Well, except that I typed them correctly in the search =:-o
It makes me wonder whether the overall/general American aesthetic is
generally be more backward-looking than the European. Is it useful to
sak whether living with History (for example, structures that have been
inhabited for literally hundreds of years) allows Europeans to feel more
comfortable with looking towards the future? Maybe the general
"gestalt" of America still includes a bit of insecurity as to where we
fit into history, in terms of structures? I don't know, I'm asking - not
even sure whetehr it's a *valid* question, it's just one that occurred to
me. For example, it was notable to me that Clatrava's most "mundane"
looking project was in Dallas...
I'd be interested in peole's thoughts about that. It's entirely possible
that I just don't know enough about American architecture, but ti does
seem to me that, when I think of futuristic/foreward-looking
architecture, I don't think first about American projects.
Related recommended reading references (alliteration not intentional!)
would also be great :)
You have an interesting theory. Our oldest surviving buildings, except in
the Southwest and Mexico date only to the 17th century, and most of those
were domestic. The house in my town from 1638 looks not that different than
present day structures (although the construction is quite different). Maybe
we need a few more centurys of cooking before we begin to accept radical
THis is what I'm wondering. Maybe there is a sort fo subconscious
emotional (and maybe intellectual?) security that is created by "knowing
your roots" so to speak. OK, you know ho whard it is for me to resist a
gardening metaphor ;) so here goes - maybe it's analagous to a tree,
where the branches can't spread wide until the roots have grown deep and
It's interesting in that one mgiht expect the opposite - IOW< that, given
the US is a country of immigrants, Americans would be the most foreward-
looking/"avant garde" of all peoples, but it sometimes seems that the
opposite is true.
Or maybe it's a matter of land - Americans still have the idea tht land
is limitless, so less importance is placed upon inspirational
architecture - OTOH, Europe can't really afford to turn over much more of
its agricultural land to housing, so, since the population is so highly
urbanized, maybe it's more important there to have the built environment
be beautiful and even inspiring...?
Which of course is not to say that *all* American architecture is
"traditional", it just seems that, when it comes to creating breathtaking
and inspirational, the US has fallen behind (or perhaps has fallen
Again, that's not based upon any study, it's just an impression I have
regarding both residential architecture and public architecture, and I'm
not even sure *how* to study it.
Keep following it, this concept looks interesting. I can even imagine a
sci-fi story that follows the idea of more ingenious structures (growing
them to plan?) as a society matures. But the most ingenious and interesting
major buildings now are in Asian and Near East City States. I foresee an
almost Hellenic feeling about the revision of mankind's cultures within
these small Petri dishes of concentrated urbanism. Have you ever read
"Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind"? From the late 80's I think, about a
theory that the brain naturally mutated as man became urbanized and had to
work with others, so that by around 1200 BC the present mental layout became
more dominant. Prior to that time the sides of the brain were more
connected, allowing "voices and orders from the gods" to circulate
unhindered between the left and right sides of the brain.
Kris, you are interested in all kinds of stuff. My cousin (only 84 yrs old)
and I regularly have 2 hour telephone conversations on this sort of
interesting but useless (to us) information. Keeps the old neurons hopping.
Other good books you might find interesting are "Germs, Guns, and Steel" and
"Collapse" by Jonathan Diamond, interesting theories of why we are where we
are as a civilization.
I'm not sure whether just looking into books re: architectural history
would cover it, either, esp. if it's a new trend. But it struck me while i
was looking through the website of Calatreva as a follow-up to a reference
made by someone on this newsgroup. And I started thinking baout other work
that I like or find interesting, and that got me wondering about how styles
(over the past couple decades) might or might not "cluster", and that idea
just occured to me, that it seems as tho' mature cultures seems to be less
"traditional" in many ways.
Now,there you have me ;) Only I need to partner with someone who can write
characters - I totally stink at "doing characters"!
Seriously, tho', aside from "The FOuntainhead", is there any literature
which has ARchitecture (and related sociocultural matters) as its central
I've seen images of some of it. My impression is that a lot of pele would
cite the recent influx of money, but it's got to be much more than that -
after all, why is it that, in some places, the influx of money leads to
tacky McMansions, but in other areas, leads to innovative and fascinating
architecture? What does the difference say about society?
((Would those questions even be of much interest, or am I wasting my brain-
space... ... ))
I'm going to have to mull that over a bit, let it percolate so to speak.
It's a fascinating idea.
Perhaps related - I've seen a little bit (models and sketches) by some
different futurists here and there (books, documentaries, etc.), so I have
to let your interesting idea mix in with that.
If nothing else, I certainly *like* it a heck of a lot better than the
whole "post apocalyptic brutality" theory of the future ;)
But I do have to say that, if any sort of "new Rennaisance" or as you put
it, a sort of "New Hellenism", I very highly doubt that it will come out of
North America, or at least, from teh US - it seems to me that the US's
"moment" or turning point has come and gone, and Americans are in a mindset
that' a weird combination of narcissism, and "digin in the heels", i.e. not
merely conservatism (keeping the status-quo) but reactionism (trying to
turn back the clock), the problem being that what a lot of people imagine
is "the way things were", is actually "what people wish the way things
A few weeks ago, ther ewas a discussion in this grou regarding
individuality and what I suppose one might be able to call a sort of
"kibbutzism" - both have positives, but as with anything, taking eitehr to
an extreme is a negative. It seems to me that what we have in the US today
is not individualism, not a belief/confidence in individuality, but rather,
a weird colloidal mix of narcissim and groupthink/tribalism.
I think part of what's ahppening is tat, as tribalism's negative side
expands (gangs, criminal organizations), people who are not
I read excerpts but I can't recall having read the whole thing.
That's one way of putting it - I like your description much better than
"scatterbrained loony" <LOL!!>
Sometimes it's pretty hard on the ego, tho' in that it's personally risky
to reach out and try to grasp new ideas, because it means one ends up in
serious disagreements with more and more people, esp. when those new
ideas/new information questions long-held beliefs and/or long-standing
power structures. It can be tiring, sometimes even exhausting, to put up
with so frequently being called, directy or via implication, guano-for-
brains, because of questioning that which many or sometimes even most
people believe. Which is why, as I age, I'm becomeing a *crotchety* old
Cool! As for useless, is it less useful than talking about Brittany's lack
of underwear or Paris' latest foolishness? Really, all of that is "bread
'n' circuses". Except today, it's Donuts 'n' PopTube (or for the snootier
Whcih sort-of ties back into a REactionary mindset - to look towards the
futture, epole have to look outwards - i.e. look away from the Home
Shopping Channel, and then open the blinds and look outside their own
cacoons. How often has it been said that AMericans are "cacooning"? Well,
unfortunately, innovative solutions to problems are not solved by everyone
pupating - after all, part of they psychology of cacooning is to *not look
at* problems. Which in turn is tied into the fact that complex human
problems aren't solved by a person, but by people. So individuals feel
overwhelmed, helpless, and therefre, withdraw, cacoon.
So maybe that's reflected in architecture?
Like, think of castles and associated villages - that refelcts not only the
uinsecurity of htt age, but also, the social structure and cultural
Thre is an interaction - architecture does influence peole, but culture
influences architecture, if only because one person can't create
architecture - it might be one person's vision, but the achievement of it
takes, not a person, but people, plural. If a People/Nation has a group
psychology that looks backwards, tehn a person whose vision looks forward
is not going to have what is necessary (funding, official aproval or
permission) to create a forward-looking architecture...
Well, that's pretty rouch, mostly off the top of my head becasue this idea
ony occurred to me recently. But maybe it's of some minor interest ;)
That they do, sometimes too much for my own good <L!>
Cool, thanks - here is the Amazon.com link, in case anyone else would like
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
((THe advantage of using my credit cards rather than cash or <bleh> checks:
it's paid off every month anyway, and I accumulate points that I can then
convert into all these nifty Amazon.com gift certificates ;) ))
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