Computer assisted History

The title of this course bears witness to the will of building a bridge over the gap that, too often, separates cultural and digital topics in architecture.

The bet is that, far from being restricted to the modeling of apparent shapes, a parametric software such as TopSolid7 has the potentiel to help us order the reasonings and thought processes proping up the design and the manufacturing of architectural components. Indeed, parametric software constitute new instruments of thought that should be connected to more traditionnel tools such as writings and drawings.

In order to establish this connection, a series of texts and historical objects will be examined as case studies for a transposition on a parametric software :

  • the entasis of columns, from Antiquity to Euler and Lagrange,
  • Andronikos of Kyrros’s Tower of the Winds in Athens,
  • the vitruvian instructions relative to the atriums,
  • Brunelleschi’s experiences on perspective,
  • Philibert de l’Orme’s trumps,
  • Desargues’s slanted vaults,
  • Jean Errard’s anti-sismic stereotomy,
  • the geometrical & mechanical instruments of Errard, Descartes, Perrault and Blondel,
  • Johannes Lambert’s  perspectival instrument,
  • the classical regular polyhedra and the new flexible polyhedra of Robert Connelly (1977).

The course will not put the emphasis on modelisation as such, but rather on the support that this new tool brings in the understanding of texts and objects from the history of architecture. Hence, the reading of the treatises and documents relative to the architectural objects commented in the course will be essential.

After having examined a series of example in class, groups of students will be invited to select their own case study for a transposition on TopSolid7. This transposition will then be commented in a ten pages report evidencing the understanding of the reasonings operated in the selected text or object.