Communications Project

Document Type:Master's Thesis
Name:Steven Janssens Wunder
Title:Between Earth and Sky
Degree:Master of Architecture
Committee Chair: Heiner Schnoedt
Committee Members:Frank Weiner
Jane Britt Greenwood
Keywords:tectonics, house
Date of defense:June 28, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work immediately worldwide.


Architecture lies in the relationship between material and structure, in particular the poetic of constructed form. By poetic, I am referring to, as Kenneth Frampton put it, "the original Greek sense of poesis as an act of making and revealing." Through the dialogue of constructive elements, materials, the making of form and the resolution of structural forces, beauty and meaning arise. ‘Tectonics’ is defined as ‘pertaining to building or construction in general’ especially in reference to architecture. Gottfried Semper went further to use tectonic to define the qualities of making inherent in the constructed act. He broke down types of construction into that of using elements for a framework, such as wood frame construction, and that of using compressive mass to build an enclosure, such as block or stone work. The qualities of these he called ‘tectonics’ and ‘stereotomics,’ respectively. Frampton discusses the ontological consequences of these differences: "framework tends towards the aerial and dematerialization of mass, whereas the mass form is telluric, embedding itself deeper in the earth. One tends toward the light and the other toward dark. These gravitational opposites . . . may be said to symbolise the two cosmological opposites to which they aspire; the sky and the earth." Human existence finds itself at the juncture between these opposites. Semper regarded the joint as "the primordial tectonic element" around which all building defines itself. Then in a sense architecture embodies the fundamental way man perceives his existence.

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