AS3 – Building Principles

Title: AS3 – Building Principles
Type: Teaching Publication
Year: 2021
Course: Building Technology, MA Core
Editor: Sherene Ng, Eike Schling
Published in: Architectural Structures Series
Lecture Content: Rainer Barthel, Donn Holohan, Olivier Ottevaere


This publication exhibits the work created by undergraduate students in their 2nd year during the core course „Building Technology 1“ at the Department of Architecture, HKU, spring 2021.

The course covers the fundamentals of structural principles and materials for architects looking into external and internal forces, loads and resistance of materials, and their creative use in section-active, vector-active and form-active structures. The course aims to create an intuitive understanding of the functionality of linear structures, the ability to simplify them into structural diagrams, analytically and graphically understand their forces and stress and use this information to design new creative architectural applications. It is based on previous courses and contents from Rainer Barthel from the Technical University of Munich, as well as Donn Holohan and Olivier Ottevaere from the University of Hong Kong.

Students were asked to submit their hand-written notes after every lecture, creating an archive of individual sketches and notations, which is used in this publication as the documentation of knowledge. Furthermore, students encountered three short homeworks during the semester: ”Structural Diagram”, “Destructive Experiment” and “Structural Analysis”, in which they reiterated in their own time the technical skills learned in class.

This particular semester was built around two assignments: “Structural Principles” and “Material construction”.

For “Structural Principles”, students were asked to build an interactive board and create a short video explaining the specific behaviour of structures. These fundamental principles like buckling, stress and strain, bracing or trussed beams, had to be researched, understood, replicated and investigated. The interactive board shows a measurable experiment that can be replicated by anyone using this exhibit.

The second assignment “Material construction” was looking at the art of combining material and structure to create space. For this purpose, 31 reference projects were investigated and precise construction details were collected. Students first sketched their reference projects at 1:100 and 1:20 and finally picked a specific partition that incorporated structure and facade to build a 1:20 model of approximately 40x60cm size. The models are true in materiality, joints and space. This task not only familiarized students with the layers of construction, structure and façade but enabled them to compare similar structural spans and their impact on space and light in various materials.

Despite the short time and the highly technical tasks, students managed to create architecturally and structurally sophisticated work investigating and designing complex structural displays and building models. In this publication, we will first introduce the lecture series, and homework and then show the 31 structural principles and 31 building models created.

About eikeschling

Dr.-Ing. | Architect BYAK Assistant Professor in Architectural Structures The University of Hong Kong

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: