The Physical Model as Means of Projective Inquiry in Structural Studies: The Paradigm of Architectural Education

Kotnik, T. (Examiner)

Activity: Examination typesPre-examination of dissertation or acting as opponent to doctoral students


The present work inscribes to a broader discourse on the mode of reasoning in
structural studies. Do the inquiries on the theme of structure, building
structure in particular, employ a reflective or projective mode of reasoning?
Therefore, the study discusses the potential of the physical model as a means
for projective structural inquiries, arguing conversely for the design component
of structural studies.
A brief review of the most characteristic cases in architecture education brings
evidence of the prevailing reflective rationale. An alternative is sought, to
illustrate instances of a projective mode of reasoning. Balmond’s informal is
suggested as the theoretical framework for a praxis of synthetic rationale and
conceptual awareness.
The idiosyncratic, yet seminal, research of Le Ricolais is singled out to highlight
“design‐erly ways” in structural studies; the physical model is employed within
a “serial approach” as a material diagram to visualize conceptual patterns. The
imperative to further unfold this potential on a systematic basis leads to
architectural studies, bringing into play a trans‐disciplinary perspective. The
Austin pedagogy offers a paradigm by excellence to discuss conceptual
awareness by means of perceptual constructs in a projective praxis; the physical
model serves as a conscious methodological vehicle for interactive visual
thinking disclosing the “dialectics of physical modelling”, especially appropriate
for the design culture.
Building on these foundations, a couple of educational practices, exploring the
notions of the structural concept and the material diagram, are discussed to
suggest possible tracks in expanding a projective rationale in structural inquiries
by means of physical models.
Period11 Dec 2017
Examination held atSwiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Degree of RecognitionInternational