There is certain logic evident in the look of buildings, their materiality, and their structural rationale: how they are made; what they are made from; where they are built. This thesis will show how a modern architect can test the traditional and familiar constructional logic of primary and secondary structure through an alternative expression of materiality in buildings. By examining selected works of Herzog & de Meuron and Peter Zumthor, this thesis explores the constructional rationale and traditional role of primary and secondary structure, and the relationship between the two. It uncovers the possible reasoning and subsequent outcome when this relationship is challenged or reconsidered.
In a traditional sense certain relations and familiarities occur between primary and secondary structures of buildings and the composition of the materials used. Traditionally, this composition forms a typical structural relationship whereby the primary structure holds up the building and the secondary structure acts as a skin or envelope, and the materials used have corresponding inherent attributes of strength or weatherproofing. When the appearance of a building portrays a logic that is unclear or unfamiliar, especially between the primary and secondary structures, it poses the question of why? And why this is interesting? These questions pose further questions of what possibilities are at stake in developing an architectural proposition if these relationships need not be concurrent, or exist at all.
The idea that the building envelope has the opportunity to become more than what the name merely suggests is explored through a selection of case studies of Herzog & de Meuron and Peter Zumthor‘s buildings, of which the appearance seems to question the envelope through utilising familiar building materials in ways which challenge visual perception.
Herzog & De Meuron and Peter Zumthor have been selected to illustrate how their particular approaches to design, although different from one another, both highly consider the material selection and application in their designs. From this, it is investigated how the function of, the relationships between, and approach of how building materials can act with one another - or separately - can influence the development of envelope systems in their buildings and act as a guide in an overall idea of architectural design approach.
This thesis investigates the underlying motives between Herzog & De Meuron and how they challenge the notion of a materials’ familiarity in their approach to architecture, versus Zumthor’s validation of material used in his design, questioning the legitimacy of material use and relations when forming an architectural response.
This thesis shows that the reconsideration of the traditional roles of primary and secondary structures, or construction logic can be utilised as a catalyst with the validation of material choice for an architect to form a larger idea of architectural thought process and approach.