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Con-Structure Matters

Title Con-Structure Matters
Supervisor(s) Laurens Luyten (supervisor) + Ignaas Back (co-supervisor)
Campus Ghent
Language EN
Studio or individual? Studio, max. of 6 students


Description of the project:

This studio is closely connected to the studio “Adapt, on Continuity in Building” by sharing studio topics and tutoring.


In this studio “Con-Structure Matters”, students engage in a focused exploration of architectural form generation through a deep understanding of material properties. By investigating the constructive and structural characteristics of building materials, students lay the foundation for developing their unique approach to architectural design.


Linking Matter and Architecture

Matter is an important aspect of our experience of architectural design. Even more, the constructive and structural properties of building materials are intrinsically part of the creation process and the final quality of the architectural form. For example, stacked bricks can form a load-bearing wall with acoustic, thermal, and aesthetic qualities. In addition, the structural compression properties of a brick and the principle of stacking incite the creation of arches and shells as architectural elements.

Similarly, wood consists of fibres, which lead to direction-dependent (anisotropic) properties of strength, deformation, shrinking, and swelling. This determines how to construct wooden architecture and its detailing.

This link between material properties and the form-finding and construction of architectural design, can be traced in many building materials, such as rammed earth, steel, bio-based materials, concrete, adobe, and bamboo.

In this studio, students investigate building materials, and develop a personal link between material properties and their generation of architectural design. This link is investigated in a test-case design project in which students have the autonomy to select its programme and context, and are encouraged to add personal themes (e.g., regenerative design, climate change, multicultural society, reuse, and social sustainability).

Studio context

This studio instigates students to develop and broadly explore their personal approach to designing.

For students to thrive in this studio, they must possess a solid understanding of material properties, structural behaviour, and general building technology. This foundational understanding is crucial for conducting meaningful material investigations and pushing the boundaries of architectural design.


Tutoring in semester 1: five meetings with lectures, introduction, and start-up of the dissertation project.

Tutoring in semester 2: up to weekly tutoring (according to needs) and three reviews.


Expected output:

A manuscript presenting (1) the developed link between material properties and design generation, together with (2) plans and details of the test-case design project.


References/Further reading:

Addis, B., 2007. Building: 3000 Years of Design Engineering and Construction. London: Phaidon Press.

Arup, O., 1970. The Key Speech.

Balmond, C., 2002. Informal. Munich: Prestel.

Charleson, A., 2005. Structure as Architecture: A Source Book for Architects and Structural Engineers. Oxford, MA: Architectural Press.

Ching, F.D., Onouye, B.S., and Zuberbuhler, D., 2009. Building Structures Illustrated: Patterns, Systems, and Design. Hoboken: Wiley.

Conzett, J., 2006. Structure as Space: Engineering and Architecture in the Works of Jnrg Conzett. London: AA Publications.

Deplazes, A., ed., 2005. Constructing Architecture: Materials, Processes, Structures. Basel: Birkhäuser.

Engel, H. and Rapson, R., 1967. Tragsysteme, Structure Systems. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.

Gordon, J.E., 1978. Structures, or, Why things don’t fall down. London: Penguin Books.

Hunt, T., 2003. Tony Hunt’s Structures Notebook. 2nd ed. Oxford: Architectural Press.

Iorio, A. and Co, F.D., 2011. Jurg Conzett, Gianfranco Bronzini Patrick Gartmann: forme di strutture/ Forms of Structures. Bilingual edition. Milano: Mondadori Electa.

Luyten, L., 2022. Structure as (primary) generator of architectural design: a study of a master dissertation studio. Architecture, Structures and Construction, 2, 129–143.

Macaulay, D., 1981. Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction. Boston: Sandpiper.

Macdonald, A.J., 2001. Structure and Architecture. 2 edition. Oxford: Routledge.

Meister, U., Rist-Stadelmann, C., and Spaan, M., eds., 2019. Crafting the Façade: Stone, Brick, Wood. Zürich: Park Books.

Muttoni, A., 2011. The Art of Structures. Lausanne: EPFL Press.

Rice, P., 1996. An Engineer Imagines. 2nd ed. London: Ellipsis.

Sandaker, B.N., 2008. On span and space: exploring structures in architecture. Abingdon: Routledge.

Sandaker, B.N., Eggen, A.P., and Cruvellier, M.R., 2011. The structural basis of architecture. 2nd ed. Oxon: Taylor & Francis.

Schodek, D.L. and Bechthold, M., 2014. Structures. 7th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Strauven, I. and Ney, L., 2005. Ney & Partners Freedom of form finding. Antwerpen: Vlaams Architectuurinstituut.

Zalewski, W. and Allen, E., 1998. Shaping structures: statics. Wiley.


Reference for the image:

Shiwa Castle, Morioka (JPN), Copyright Koike Takashi.