CULTURE AND CONTINUITY
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“It is now time to consider what role structure plays in architecture, or what influence it has on architecture. First and foremost, structural technique makes building possible by providing stability. In doing so, it imposes a limitation on architecture - it gets in the way, so to speak. Columns and beams occur where they are not wanted, valuable space is lost. These structural limitations are often, perhaps even mostly, of an economic nature. New materials and advances in technique have made it possible to free architecture from structural fetters to an extraordinary degree, but this freedom has still to be paid for. What is structurally possible may not be financially possible, but both these limitations are being reduced all the time by technical progress. If we view the structure in this light, as utilitarian necessity, we can say that the best structural design is the one which is most economic and least obstructive. It is not easy to reconcile these two opposed aims, but much can be done by skilful design. However, we shall probably never reach the stage when we can entirely eliminate all visible structural supports, and in the meantime structural elements are very much in evidence, whether we like it or not. And that brings me to the second way in which they affect architecture - as subject matter for artistic creation. Columns, beams, arches etc., are elements in the architectural pattern just as are windows, walls, chimneys, stairs and the rest, and as such they must be submitted to architectural - or perhaps we should say here - aesthetic discipline. From this point of view they may not be a nuisance at all, they may be a welcome help to artistic articulation. By collaboration between the architect and the engineer it may be possible so to arrange and so to shape the structural members that they positively contribute to Delight.”

Ove Arup

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