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Concepção e Experimentação Estrutural

Code: 50143C5     Acronym: CEE

Classification Keyword
OFICIAL Building Technology

Instance: 2019/2020 - 1S

Active? Yes
Web Page: http://structures.arq.up.pt
Responsible unit: Arquitectura (A)
Course/CS Responsible: Master Degree in Architecture

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
MIARQ 17 MIARQ 4 - 3 - 81

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Rui Humberto Costa de Fernandes Póvoas

Teaching - Hours

Theoretical and practical : 0,00
Type Teacher Classes Hour
Theoretical and practical Totals 1 0,00
Rui Humberto Costa de Fernandes Póvoas 1,50
Edgar Garcia da Silva Brito 1,50

Teaching language

Portuguese and english


The course unit aims to bring students closer to three types of structural principles – statics, materials and construction – that were on the conceptual genesis of reference structures of the past.
On statics, the objective is to develop an intuitive and holistic relationship between form and structure using graphical methods and physical models. Starting with the simplest structural behavior, arch (compression) and cable (tension), the students will be able to visually understand, qualify and question the behavior of all types of structures.
The students should explore the inner structural behavior of different materials –  e.g. stone works best in compression, steel can work in tension and compression – and understand the common field in which different materials can work together. Each material has an origin, a preferred way of behaving and memory that are deeply linked with the technological development and the local know-how.
Lastly, the student should understand how the production processes, assembly, transportation and constructive processes have influenced and were on the genesis of new solutions. The answer to restrictions, how to overcome difficulties and transgress the existing status quo was key to define new solutions, such as bridges and big span canopies.

Learning outcomes and competences

The students should be able to develop a synthetic thinking between form, structure, materials and construction during their own conceptual design process.
With these processes of learning, based on drawing, historic references and experimentation, the students should be able to develop a common language that can foster a more informed dialogue with engineers and other professionals of construction.
At the end of this course, the student should be able to design and build a structure, applying at least one of the structural principles and execute it on a built form.

Working method



1.2. Fundamentals: compression and tension
1.3. Graphical statics and synthesis between form and structure
1.4. Absence of evidence: flexion
1.5. Overlaying
1.6. Transgressions

2.1. Natural materials – stone and wood
2.2. Industrial revolution materials – metal alloys
2.3. Reinforced concrete as liquid stone
2.4. Prestressing and denying mass its own weight
2.5. Hybrid materials

3.1. Production
3.2. Design for assembly and disassembly
3.3. Transportation
3.4. Constructive Processes

Mandatory literature

DEPLAZES, Andrea ; Constructing Architecture: Materials, Processes, Structures, Birkhauser, 2009
GARGIANI, Roberto; The rhetoric of Pier Luigi Nervi: Forms in reinforced concrete and ferro-cement., EPFL Press, 2016
MOSTAFAVI, Mohsen ; Structure as Space: Engineering and Architecture in the Works of Jürg Conzett and His Partners, AA Publications, 2006
MULLER-BROCKMANN, Josef ; Sistemas de grelhas, Gustavo Gili, 2012
MUTTONI, Aurelio; The Art of Structures: Introduction to the Functioning of Structure in Architecture, EPFL Press, 2012
NERVI, Pier Luigi; Aesthetics and Technology in Buildings, Harvard University Press, 1966
SANDAKER, Bjorn; The Structural Basis of Architecture, Routledge, 2014
SEMPER, Gottfried ; Style in the technical and tectonic arts, or, practical aesthetics, Getty Research Institute, 2004
REICHEL, Alexander ; Support, materialise. Columns, walls, floors, Birkhauser, 2014

Complementary Bibliography

ADDIS, Bill; Building: 3000 Years of Design Engineering and Construction, Phaidon, 2007
ANGERER, Fred; Surface Structures in Building: Structure and Form, Reinhold Pub. Corp, 1961
BILL, Max; Robert Maillart, Erlenbach, 1949
CARLANA, Michel; Forms of Structures, Electa architectura, 2011
FLURY, Aita; Cooperation: The Engineer and the Architect, Birkhauser, 2012
KIND-BARKAUSAS, Friedbert; Concrete Construction Manual, Birkhauser, 2002
PICON, Antoine; Art de l'Ingenieur: Construction Entrepreneur Inventeur, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1997
POPOVIC, Olga; Conceptual Structural Design: Bridging the Gap between Architects and Engineers, Thomas Telford, 2003
TORROJA, Eduardo; Razón y ser de los tipos estructurales, Ediciones Doce Calles, 2010

Teaching methods and learning activities

Each weekly class is divided in three parts: theory, fast exercises (graphical statics and model making), and workgroup tutorial. Invited guests (architects, engineers and builders) will provide complementary knowledge.
The workgroup consists on designing and constructing a structural element in a material to be defined. Each team of five students should design, plan and build one concrete object, where it should question at least one of the three structural principles.
As in a design studio, each team member will be responsible for specific topics of the workgroup (managing, drawings, images and renders, on-site construction, photography, publications).
At the end of the semester each team must deliver three panels describing the project, the process and the construction, while producing a short and synthetic analysis on the built object.


Autocad, Illustrator, Indesign, Photoshop, Rhinoceros


Technological sciences > Engineering > Civil engineering > Structural engineering
Technological sciences > Architecture

Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation with final exam

Assessment Components

designation Weight (%)
Participação presencial 30,00
Trabalho prático ou de projeto 70,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

designation Time (hours)
Apresentação/discussão de um trabalho científico 6,00
Elaboração de projeto 36,00
Frequência das aulas 39,00
Total: 81,00

Eligibility for exams

75% attendance

Calculation formula of final grade

Global and continuous evaluation during the semester, taking into account:
1. Attendance and class participation
2. Research and reflection for the workgroup;
3. Work dynamics of workgroup;
4. Command of structural principles;
5. Quality of the built object;
6. Clarity and precision of final solution.

CF = (1,2 & 3)x0,50 + (4,5 & 6)x0,50


Go to course website for further workgroup information.
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