Holistic approach

To achieve economic and practical architectural details, there has to be a basic appreciation of the performance of the overall structure itself and the loading conditions imposed on the member or component in question. The form of the structure will strongly influence the details employed.

For the architect, details often evolve through the logical stages of conceptual design, followed by further rationalisation into the detailed design, i.e. from the macro to the micro. The architect may approach the concept design with the key component details already in mind. However, the final solution will be influenced by structural issues, an understanding of the fabrication and construction process, and other functional constraints (see Colour Plate 14).

As one of the first examples of external support using masts and cables, the steelwork for the Renault Parts Distribution Centre (see Figure 1.2) was subject to considerable refinement at the design stage by computer analysis, and the components were finally rigorously tested to assess their load capacity. The 'mast and arm' details reached a high level of sophistication, creating a strong aesthetic and functional appeal for what could have been a bland enclosure.

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