Special Subject: Structural Design — Collaborations in Concrete: Designing and Engineering Post-colonial Architecture in the Global South

Permission of Instructor
Enrollment Limited

Design in the built environment necessarily entails collaboration across disciplines, especially when there are aspirations for innovation in geometry, materials, and construction technologies to support and contribute to an architectural vision.  Indeed, many of the most significant achievements in buildings have been empowered by important and synthetic contributions from architects and structural engineers working together closely. In 4.s48, we will critically examine key characters in collaborations of these types, investigating their relationships, communication styles, tools, design processes, and legacies.  

We will focus specifically on ambitious reinforced concrete architecture of the 1950s-1970s from the Global South.  These projects include diverse formal development and structural innovation, from thin concrete shells to complex space frames to soaring spans. Our goal is to extract examples and principles of productive collaborations from this context and consider how they might be applied going forward. In this seminar, we will discuss the global dynamics and local factors that shaped the work of several structural designers in the Global South. These designers include engineers like Indians Mahendra Raj and Binoy Chatterjee, and architects like South African Julian Elliott and Pierre Goudiaby Atepa of Senegal. We hope to highlight significant contributions largely omitted from conventional western scholarship. 

The class will meet once weekly for a three-hour period, which will include lectures, discussions on readings, and progress updates from students on individual projects. Graduate and advanced undergraduate students from Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and related disciplines are welcome.