Introducing Architectural Tectonics

Introducing Architectural Tectonics: Exploring the Intersection of Design and Construction centers on the study of architectural works from around the world, investigating each through the lens of the tectonic. Below, you will find the Preface from the book which explains my intent behind its creation.

For more information or to purchase the book, please click on one of the following links:

Routledge Book Page

Amazon Book Page

Routledge Featured Author Page

Preface | Building a Foundation

In the opening lines of The Tell-the-Tale Detail, the late architect and educator Marco Frascari wrote:

Elusive in a traditional dimensional definition, the architectural detail can be defined as the union of construction, the result of the logos of techné, with construing, the result of the techné of logos.[1]

In the Greek language, logos means discourse or the communication of thought through conversation while techné refers to the practice of making an object using previously gained knowledge.[2] Frascari’s logos of techné, therefore, can be translated as a conversation about making and constructing. Its counterpart, the techné of logos, reads as the making of conversation or a discussion leading to the understanding of meaning.

This quotation – as well as the rest of Frascari’s essay – serves as a catalyst for the study of the architectural detail, of the making of things, and of the theoretical premise of the tectonic. Frascari asserted that the joining of elements is not simply an act of construction, but a process that helps to define the space created through construction. This dialogue is essential for the development of a comprehensive architectural curriculum and has the potential to help fill some of the voids found in many current curricular models. For instance:

  • Despite the efforts of many to minimize the separation of design, construction, and theory in schools of architecture, the divide still exists. Moments of intersection are too infrequent to properly prepare young minds for the complexity of architectural practice. Given the multifaceted structure of higher education (regulated course loads, core requirements, accreditation guidelines, etc.), full integration is impossible in most situations, but opportunities do exist for meaningful conversation between these knowledge bases. 
  • Novice students, more often than not, struggle with architectural theory. In many cases, the formal grammar, discipline-specific terminology, and surplus of unknown references lead to confusion and reluctance to independently pursue advanced lines of thinking. Avoiding theory altogether during these early years can lead to equally dismal results. In order to prevent such outcomes, improved instructional tools need to be developed to assist in using theory as a productive part of a student’s development.
  • The study of precedents is crucial for the development of young architects. Exposure to a variety of ways of thinking about the built environment leads to a greater knowledge base from which to draw while working. These studies, however, need to be carefully calibrated as they often result in merely superficial engagement. Instead of alluring imagery, students must excavate critical lessons from these case studies; images alone explain very little of what a precedent has to offer. Instead, studies should focus on analyzing HOW the project works, responds, or engages.
  • Many architecture students, especially those in their first years of study, lack the understanding that each line he or she draws is a representation of something real. Drawing lines and assembling space are significantly different undertakings, but they are intricately linked. Studying the translation of architectural representations to the reality of the built environment leads to better development of the critical thinking skills necessary to practice architecture professionally.

This book is a direct response to these realizations. It endeavors to deliver to you an understanding of the integrative potential of architectural tectonics. Just as Frascari did in The Tell-the-Tale Detail, this text presents a conversation about the making of architecture that will hopefully resonate with you as you begin (or continue) your investigation of the built environment.

[1] Marco Frascari, “The Tell-the-Tale Detail,” in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965-1995, ed. Kate Nesbitt (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 500. Originally published in VIA 7: The Building of Architecture (1984): 23-37.

[2] Adrian Snodgrass, “On ‘Theorising Architectural Education’,” Architectural Theory Review 5, no. 2 (2000): 89.