1 Beauty of structure and positive space

Using the fundamental process, you must think of the building in a way that it becomes a beautiful pattern of light and dark, solid and empty. This is hard if you don’t know much about engineering — because it is an engineering problem. But it is unusually hard, too, because in our era, the process of thinking of interlocking positive and negative space together as a single thing is almost a forgotten art.
To solve the problem, you need to address the alternation of space and solid in the building; and you need to approach this matter almost as if it were a problem of decoration, of playing, making the solid mass of the building so beautiful in its own right that its centers, their volumes, are as massive as possible — and that these centers — arches, columns, beams, walls, vaults — become as pronounced as the centers in the space — the rooms and corridors and doorways.

The living quality of centers comes, above all, from the formation of Positive space — and this means, essentially, that the spatial elements, and the elements inside the elements, and the smaller interstices between the smaller elements — all these are positive in character — so well-shaped, that the space created by them forms an endless and coherent tapestry.

The qualities which arise in space when it is positive, and the qualities that arise in structure when it is well-behaved structurally, are very closely similar, almost congruent — […] we may find our way to good engineering structures most effectively, by relying on our ability to form positive space at many levels, in the members, and in the space.

Multiplicity of function — that is, structure which is well-behaved from an engineering point of view and also well-behaved from the point of view of other vital building functions — will rely on the formation of positive space, because it is this kind of space which has the capacity to have many different functional properties at the same time (see Book 1, pages 417-19).

(Book 2, pages 401-20) The holistic aspect of a well-behaved structural system can be tamed, and brought into coherence with functional and site-specific necessity by the use of a-periodic grid or tartans, as the basis for column and beam layout, once again relying on the formation of positive space in every element at every scale, without imposing a rigid framework on them.

#book/The Nature of Order/3 A Vision of a Living World/6 Positive space in engineering structure and geometry#

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