This paper says sometimes form is a result of historic process
I published an article in stone world magazine in 1996, where i introduced a concept I called "inside out design." Looking at it 15 years later, I still believe it is a good article even though I have no reason to believe any one ever read it. Never the less 25 years and one half dozen articles later I still attempt to provoke minds, for better or worse.
I have read that capitols on stone columns imitate tree limbs on original wood columns. To me this makes sense, particularly since I have seen small tree trunks used this way to support wooden boards for use as platforms to pour concrete roofs in colonial Mexico.
Historians would have you believe that if you don’t know the difference between Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic capitols, your education is incomplete. But to me I never cared, it seemed pointless, but I do like the tree branch concept, which probably casts a shadow on my education.
I believe, based on personal observation gleaned from 50 years in the stone business, that the technology within industry provides designers basic building blocks to work with. The possibilities and limitations of the medium you are working in change through time. These changes provide design professionals an ever-changing variety of possibilities. This all seems logical and apparent to most of us.
However, what is interesting are those limitations of past technologies, that become permanent design staples all around us. Learning to recognize these technological glitches to me provides a more meaningful appreciation of the design environment. It goes back to the tree limb thing, I think. For example, walking through an historic neighborhood with a craftsman who has knowledge of wood construction, or walking the streets of a city with a stoneworker interested in history, is much more fun than taking a tour and having someone tell you the architectural style and the name of the architect who designed it. This of course is not true if I am touring a foreign country and want to see some local history.
I am sure that every construction medium could chime in here -- it would be interesting to hear other thoughts. My experience is with stone which has traditionally been the provider of urban forms or designer building blocks.
The quirk miter. A staple of urban stone design
Problem: stone is fragile - miters don’t work - they chip
The historic difficulty of holding sharp corners before modern equipment is probably the reason for rustification. That is a term I use to describe softening the edges of each stone with a bevel or round. This seems to have become a staple of the stone imitation industry, terracotta. By employing various bevels, rounds and offsets designers have been able to create beautiful designs in building forms in both stone and terracotta. My stonecutter father used to say ‘it all comes out in the wash’. The chips that is. (“wash” being a term stonecutters use for bevel.)
|United States Customs House, downtown Portland|
|Lincoln Hall, Portland State University|
Because gang sawing stone slabs has always been a difficult and imprecise job, granite veneer slabs have often employed a structure called the head in architectural projects, that is corners, are dealt with by specifying a given fixed dimension at butt joints.
|CNC Stone Router|