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THE STUDY OF ARCHITECTURAL COMPOSITION PROPERTIES

(a practical course of volumetric – spatial modeling)

The suggested practical course is intended for teaching students of Architecture

at the elementary stage of training as well as for training graduate students and

practising architects.

Mission and goals: Practical teaching students to the laws of form building,

formation of stable notions of mutual influence of form qualities and content, spatial

thinking development.

Methodology: The training takes place in the process of practical modeling in the

form of graphic black and white pictures and volumetric – spatial models of white

paper. Exception of the light is a methodological principle, because color modeling is

an independent task in training architects. The syllabus is divided into two sections:

section 1 is concerned with a few qualitative characteristics exposition tasks (6 tasks),

section 2 considers complex modeling (4 tasks). A sequence of tasks is determined

according to the principle "from the simple to the complicated" and "from the general

to the particular".

INTRODUCTION

A course in "The Volumetric Spatial Composition" is an integral part of

training architects in Russia. It looks at the study of objective qualities and


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appropriateness of the form building of architectural volume and space. At the base

of the course lies the development of volumetric – spatial thinking stages, the

harmony and proportionality sense formation. This method was proposed and

adopted in the 1920-ies of the XX century in the architectural school of Russia and

Germany. The problems were paid attention to by V. Kandinsky, N. Ladovsky, V.

Krinsky, I. Lamtzov, V. Tatin, K. Melnikov, Y. Chernikov, M. Turkus, V. Gropius,

A. Albers, P. Klee and others. Nowadays A. Korotkovsky, S. Malakhov, A. Stepanov

consider the issues.

In our time the formed theory of composition has the sections dealing with

individual objective characteristics of architectural forms. In accordance with this the

Syllabus considers the themes: "The Properties of Architectural Forms", "The Means

of Architectural Composition". Their content consists in the following.

"The Properties of Architectural Forms" section describes the physical qualities

of architectural forms, paying attention to size, mass, position in space, texture, light

and shade, color and other form qualities. On this base new geometric archi-types are

produced: flat ones (a circle, square, rectangle) and spatial (a ball, cube,

parallelepiped, prism) which are the basis of all architectural structures.

"The Means of Architectural Composition" section - are the methods of

architectural forms artistic qualities exposition by means of combining individual

forms archi-types or the breakdown of one form for its complication and

modification. The following methods as the means of harmonization are used:

rhythm, proportion, scale, symmetry, tectonics, identity.


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"The Composition Types" section formulates the principles of structural

organization of a volumetric – spatial form. The structural organization can be

represented as a plane, volume or space. In accordance with this there are three basic

types of composition: frontal, spatial and volumetric.

The use in the process of modeling of volumetric – spatial forms of the set of

tools described above allows to get composition decisions, bearing some informative

load. In this case one can speak of qualitatively different, rich in content

characteristics of architectural forms. In this case we are speaking about the

properties of architectural composition, for the mastering of which this practical

course is designed. The general course design structure is represented by the scheme.
Physical properties

VOLUMETRIC-SPATIAL MODELLING

Properties of
Form Architectural Types of
architectural
properties composition means
Rhythm composition
compositionDynamics
Frontal
composition
Form Proportion Infinity
Content characteristics
Structural organisation
Artistic qualities

Mass Scale Closeness


Volumetric
composition
Texture
Symmetry Regulating
Color
Tectonics Spatial Bionic
Volume composition character

Dispositi Identity other


on

other
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THE TRAINING TASKS ON THE THEME:

"THE STUDY OF ARCHITECTURAL COMPOSITION PROPERTIES"

In the process of teaching the course "Study of Architectural Composition

Properties" the practical modeling of architectural forms as a pair of opposite features

is suggested. It allows to apply a principle of opposition as a method of teaching, as a

form of setting up a training task. This approach makes a creative dialogue between a

teacher and a student easier. A collection of tasks is directed to the modeling of

"contents" and "impression of the contents" and is divided into two parts. The first

part is concerned with the exposition of individual qualitative characteristics (6

tasks), the second one considers complex modeling (4 tasks). The students do all the

tasks without exception.

The 1st part: exercises are fulfilled in two stages. First comes graphic

modeling. The author suggests his decision as a linear composition in two 10× 10 cm

squares, in black Indian ink. The use of lines, strokes and points is allowed. The

following themes – pairs are proposed: bionic character - technical character, chaotic

state – regulating state, infiniteness – finiteness, mass character – individuality,

openness - closeness, dynamic character – static character. See examples in Fig.1-12


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Fig.1. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Bionic character – Technical

character"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 005”

Fig. 2. An example of model implementation for the "Bionic character – Technical

character" exercise

Fig.3. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Chaotic state – Regulating state"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 003”

Fig. 4. An example of model implementation for the "Chaotic state – Regulating

state" exercise
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Fig.5. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Infiniteness – Finiteness"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 004”

Fig. 6. An example of model implementation for the "Infiniteness – Finiteness"

exercise

Fig.7. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Mass character – Individuality"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 001”

Fig. 8. An example of model implementation for the "Mass character – Individuality"

exercise
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Fig.9. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Openness – Closeness"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 006”

Fig. 10. An example of model implementation for the "Openness – Closeness"

exercise

Fig.11. An example of the graphic stage exercise on "Dynamic character – Static

Character"

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 002”

Fig. 12. An example of model implementation for the "Dynamic character – Static

Character" exercise
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The 2nd part: complex modeling is realized in dynamic compositions where

qualitative changes in form or space in time are reflected. There must be a

"beginning" and an "end" in each composition for all four tasks. There exists a

"scenario" – the development program pithiness, stages of changes. The following

themes are proposed: "The Growth", "The Regulating", "The Structure", "The

Movement Space".

The "Growth" theme task.

Choose 3-4 elements by volume, make up the simplest volume – spatial

composition and model its development in 4 phases. The methods for growth features

exposition are: an increase in the quantity of elements, plastic changes and increase in

physical dimensions of all details, increase in quantity and quality of elements

composition ties between themselves, primary and secondary differentiation. The

composition made up for every phase is to possess integrity, unity and artistic

performance.

The task is carried out in two stages: a preliminary graphic interpretation,

necessary for the formulation of the main idea, scenario and the formation of

composition methods (See Fig.13 and 14). After that the model made of white paper

is performed.
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Fig. 13. An example of the graphic stage "Growth" exercise

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 007”

Fig. 14. An example of model implementation for the "Growth" exercise

The "Structure" theme task

To model the volumetric – spatial composition on the base of accepted 1-2

"initial elements" (typical details). These details can be repeated, grouped, they can

shift their position in space without changing their form. They can make up

continuity or intermittence in the form building. It is necessary to get a certain

"cliché", a law of repetition. The composition received is to give an idea of infinite

development on the base of the initial elements repetition and their combinations.

The work is carried out in two stages: a graphic search of the idea, the

determination of the structural development law and the model implementation.

See file “Compozition KarsGASA 009,010”

Fig. 15. An example of model implementation for the "Structure" exercise

The "Regulating" theme task


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To choose 5-6 simple elements and arrange them on the plane in chaos. By the

use of composition methods it is necessary to put the elements in order and bring in

the meaning in 3-4 stages without changing the elements form and quantity. It is

necessary to achieve the volumetric – spatial composition integrity at the expense of

structure – forming elements isolation.

The work is carried out in 2 stages: a graphic research of the idea, regulating

principles exposition and the model implementation.

Fig. 16. An example of the graphic stage "Regulating" exercise

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 008”

Fig. 17. An example of model implementation for the “Regulating” exercise

The “Movement Space” task

A volumetric – spatial composition is formed up in the cube with designated

30× 30× 30 cm ribs (cube – frame), which outline the space “border”, where

purposeful successive movement is to be arranged. It is necessary to designate all the

stages and reveal the line of movement by the composition means.


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The beginning (“entrance”) should be considered as a connection of the inner

and outer space. The way (movement trajectory inside the cube) is modeled

according to the scenario, in which the movement character (active, passive), the

degree of junctions space saturation (a lot of reference points, signs, etc) are

designed. Therefore, the way is formed by the linear parts (“ramps”, “staircases”,

“bridges”, “lianas”), junctions (“squares”, “crossroads”, “layers”) the signs

(orientation points and “indicators” for the movement, totems, decorations). The end

of the way (“exit”) is looked upon as a break-through into open space. Shape,

quantity, dimensions of the elements, their trajectory of movement, space plasticity,

the elements composition ties are to represent an idea of the movement character. The

movement in this case is a ritual or ceremony.

The work is performed in 2 stages: the working model implementation for the

choice of an idea, movement scenario formation, determination of the composition

methods and the clean model making.

See file “Compozition KrasGASA 011,012,013”

Fig. 18. An example of model implementation for the "Movement Space"

exercise