Design and Construction II

Arch 306
Winter 2008

Professor Pieter Sijpkes

Meeting on Friday January 18 at 1.30 in the studio
We will have a short meeting on Friday.
We will discuss the rules for the contest on Monday; (which will start at 10.00 AM sharp)
Make sure you have done some experiments with spaghetti cantilevers.
Here's a good link on 'spaghetti failure modes' for bridges (turn the sound down, it's a tad vulgar!)

(this link  also shows an interesting way to apply a variable load gently!.. have a look)
Another link to the Delft 'spaghetti studio' with many very detailed photographs:

         'Steel house', Holland                                                                                                            Galileo's cantilever                                                                                                               'Red House', Rotterdam
"The design of a building incorporating a significant cantilever component"

To start  this design studio we will first investigate the architectural, structural and historical nature of  the cantilever in general.
After that will identify a site and formulate the program of a building that will include in its fabric a significant cantilever element.
Finally we will design this building to quite a detailed  level, and enter  the final designs in the annual Steel Structures Education Foundation competition.  

The Challenge

Perhaps the most organic of all structural forms, examples of cantilevers surround us in a myriad of structural wonders as exemplified in the diversity of trees and plant life that inhabit our planet. The range of solutions that have been incorporated by nature to solve the requirements for plants to sustain life have provided inspiration for architectural solutions to as applied to a range of purposes throughout the millennia. Ranging from utilitarian to exquisite in their execution, the range of responses have all, nonetheless, had to come to terms with one simple problem: the reduction of a load path to a single pathway through the application of tension and balance to achieve a harmonious solution. The cantilever cannot hide its structural requirement; it must, instead, be celebrated and exploited, both architecturally and structurally.

Students are challenged to design a cantilever structure on a site of the designers’ choosing. While the purpose, span and scale of the cantilever are left to the discretion of the designer, it is important to focus on what it means for us to engage and experience structure as ‘cantilever.’ The structure must be primarily steel, but otherwise, the material palette is open.

Competition Statement
The intention of this design competition is primarily to provide students of architecture in Canada with a unique opportunity: to enter into a design process that brings together, of necessity, concept and reality. It is important for students of architecture to grasp the fact that structural design lies not just in the realm of the engineer, but can be a means for architects of arriving at a meaningful realization of architectural ideas. It is when theory meets physical necessity that architecture can become really interesting. To that end, this competition calls upon students to conceptualize, and realize in detail, a cantilever structure of simple program. The exploration will, of course, include issues related to program and site, but the emphasis in this competition is upon the architectural exploration through form and material, on the essential relationship between architecture and structure.

The reality of this competition comes in two forms: through the requirement for buildable details, primarily utilizing structural steel; and through the collaboration with the steel fabrication industry on those details. This collaboration is an important component of this competition, as a secondary objective is to expose students to both the opportunities and restraints inherent in realizing conceptual design.

The conceptual component of this competition will come through the recommendation that this competition be run through either a studio, or a lecture based course, most probably within a structures course. Under the guidance of faculty sponsors, students will conduct the design process as an academic exercise, within the guidelines set out in this brief. As an academic project, the design process will adhere to the standards set forth by the students’ school of architecture.

Time frame of the McGill competition studio

Week one:

General research into the nature of cantilevers. (free for all; in groups of two collect cantilever info and present to class the next week)
*Structural principles (how does a cantilever  support itself? History of the analysis of cantilevers and beams. History of elasticity.
*General Precedents (Where do we see cantilevers in nature, in engineering, in objects around us?)
*Architectural Precedents (Where do we see cantilevers in architecture and why were cantilevers used; were there other solutions available instad of the cantilever ?)

Everyone: take one or two cereal boxes ( ) and create a 'cantilever feature' to one of the  boxes.

Week two

Build a sphetti cantilever using one kilo of regular spaghetti. Winner takes all.!

A cantilever structure for Montreal.

General type of conditions  that would ask for a cantilever solution
Zooming in on one or more potential sites and situations
Program development

Week three

Preliminary proposals ("Genius phase")

Visit to a steel fabrication plant

Week four

Preliminary design sketches. Preliminary engineering concepts

Week five


Week six


Week seven preparation of final panel layouts

Week eight

Major Review

End of term: time to finetune the submissions