The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 86 (2008) > Issues > Issue 20 > Structural design and avant garde architecture
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Structural design and avant garde architecture

The Institution of Structural Engineer's new Glass and Facade study group arranged for this essay and lecture. I took the liberty of introducing a number of considerations on the field of Free Form designs. This topic is quite interesting for most audience members. The USA and Europe are world leaders when it comes to many of the trends in architecture, both financially and artistically. The solo crusade of Frank O. Gehry, which has now been joined by designers in Europe, has led to a new way of designing buildings accompanied by a revolutionary new vocabulary: Free Form architecture. Free Form design has been widely published all over the world in the last decade. Experimental prototype designs have been erected. The Venice Architecture Biennale of 2004 was filled with Free Form designs.

Does Free Form architecture have the potential to become a new architectural language, an architectural style even, or are we seeing nothing more than a series of out-of-scale, one-off object designs? How deep will the influence of Free Form design be? Will the challenges inherent in formal experimentation with Free Form design eclipse the 20th century's achievements in Functionalist design? Will Free Form design finally vanquish 80-year-old Functionalist design, which survived the sieges of Post-Modernism and De-Constructivism? What will be the extent of digital design in the lives of the younger generations and how will these young designers express themselves in Free Form buildings? What contribution could the study group produce?

Professor M. Eekhout, BArch, MArch, PhD
Delft University of Technology

Author(s): Eekhout, M

Keywords: design;free-form;architecture;modern;buildings;CAD