How can we understand the role of structure in architecture? There are many points of intersection. Historically, the role of structure is well-understood and clearly revealed, tectonic expression either contrasting or assuming the construction and structural system which a building is made of. Architecture, dependant on structure for thousands of years, a relationship confused over the mid-twentieth century by a relentless string of successive movements, then after the dust of deconstructivism, then parametrics had settled, the contemporary. What is the role of structure today? Architecture has abdicated buildings, but it is still building that is at the core of architecture. Banham provides a good launching point for the discussion; the emphasis on shelter is not as important as that on environment, but still, even an environment needs an infrastructure. In the words of David Gissen, Antoine Picon, and Michael Young, architecture is not about building, it is about representation. It is the belaboured representation of ideas from which other parties produce yet other drawings and yet others produce a physical object from the lines on the page. What exactly is architecture representing then? Evidently, it represents a building, but also it represents, space, and the manipulation of that space that the building is organizing. More so, architecture is representing, tectonics, data, information, relationships, materials, flows, processes, experiences, time, and the senses. So perhaps the better-posed question may be, what is the relationship between structure and representation, as related to the production of all of these abstractions of the preceding?
It is easy, though remiss to say that structure is simply the process by which representation is translated into building. Tat moment between the drawings of the architect and the final building perhaps is one aspect, but this view is inherently problematic. The building, the final building is in actuality another representation, likewise abstract, a kind of drawing of the real, as much so as each other drawing or form of representation is also an iteration of the real. And so, structure... what is it and how does it fit into this multifarious representational project named architecture? It would seem that structure, or rather Structure, is the bringing to life of an idea into a form, it is the medium of architecture. It is the process by which idea becomes representation, or representation becomes other representations. Sturcture is the translation of all iterations of architecture; the medium of becoming. Te capacity of structure is thus limitless, its agency myriad, on one hand, it is the provision of materialized possibility on the other it is an inspiration for speculation into the possible.
Each time architecture is represented anew, it loses and gains aspects of itself. Structure is the medium through which architecture can discover itself in another form. From idea to drawing, to building, and back again.