212.472 Structures and Form
This course is in all assigned curricula part of the STEOP.
This course is in at least 1 assigned curriculum part of the STEOP.

2020W, VU, 1.5h, 2.5EC


  • Semester hours: 1.5
  • Credits: 2.5
  • Type: VU Lecture and Exercise
  • Format: Presence

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to...

The planning decisions of choosing structure types, member dimensions and proportions particularly by a structural engineer have an enormous impact on the human living space through the appearance of the final structure. Particularly in the field of infrastructure and bridge engineering as well as other engineering–driven structures as wide-span roofs and towers this responsibility is widely unexplored and underestimated.

The main objective of this course is to help structural engineering students to develop their perceptive abilities and their creative and design skills in order to adequately face their responsibility.

The main objective can be divided into more specifically sub-objectives as follows:

-        Raising awareness of the wide impact of engineering work;

-        Encouraging students to take advantage of the creative potential within the work of engineering based on historic examples of structural art;

-        Understanding the dependencies of form and function;

-        Developing their creative capabilities and skills to achieve meaningful results out of practical constraints of engineering;

-        Training students evolving conceptual structural ideas which are in line with economical, functional and aesthetical criteria;

-        Training of aesthetic sensitivity and the awareness of selecting forms within the design process;

-        Development of perceptive abilities with the goal of adequately incorporating them into the structural design process;

-        Development of critical and qualitative sense of arguments in order to convincingly communicating their design approaches orally and in written form;

-        Providing tools to improve the appearance of designs making them more dynamic and expressive.

Subject of course

Seven lectures with the following topics:

1.      Introduction into Structural Art:

         Introduction – objective of course – The 3 principles of structural design – Creativity in structural design – Why aesthetics? – Grasping for new potential for engineering work – Engineering and visual design – The ingenious way of design – The process of loading and bearing – The pyramid of form expression

2.      History of Form and Structure:

         The relation of form and structure in historical terms – Greek structures – Roman structures – Gothic period – 19th century – Modern era – Postmodern era – High tech – Status quo

3.      Form Logic 1:

         Learning from natural processes – Bötticher: Core and art form – Material and form: stone, concrete, timber, steel – Functional units – Visualisation of force flow – Structural elements and form: columns, beams, arches, cables, vaults, membranes, etc.

4.      Form Logic 2: 

         Transformation of the aforesaid into the current structural engineering

5.      Form Dynamics 1:

         Introduction into perception theory – Geometrical-optical delusions – The visual expression – Perceptual forces and stresses – Force of gravity – Balance of forces – Proportions – Obliqueness and curves

6.      Form Dynamics 2:

         Application of form dynamics on structures – Finding structural benefits out of form dynamics – Possibilities of visual refinements based on structural considerations - Playing with tools of engineers: exemplified by overpass bridges

7.      Form Art:

         Discussing the discipline of structural art, which evaluates artistic expression under the practical constraints of engineering. Explained by many existing extraordinary examples.


In about 3 units students in small groups are asked for a conceptual design of a typical engineering task showing the structural behaviour of force flow in an artistic way. The project varies every year from a wide-span roof, a tower, an infrastructure project as bridges, tunnel portals including a preliminary structural analysis.

Teaching methods

The lectures are illustrated by famous built examples of e.g. Hennebique, Maillart, Finsterwalder, Leonhardt, Nervi, Torroja, Morandi, Menn, Schlaich, Pauser). The exercises are carried out under direct supervision of the lecturer.

Mode of examination


Additional information

Den Terminplan und die Erläuterungen für die Lehrveranstaltung finden Sie unter Unterlagen.



Course dates

Fri15:00 - 17:0009.10.2020 - 27.11.2020Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri15:00 - 16:3012.02.2021Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Übungskorrektur anhand von Ideenskizzen
Fri15:00 - 16:3019.02.2021HS 7 Schütte-Lihotzky BI 2. Übungskorrektur
Fri15:00 - 16:3026.02.2021HS 7 Schütte-Lihotzky BI 3. Übungskorrektur
Structures and Form - Single appointments
Fri09.10.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri16.10.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri23.10.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri30.10.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri13.11.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri20.11.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri27.11.202015:00 - 17:00Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Vorlesung
Fri12.02.202115:00 - 16:30Seminarraum 212-232 - mündl. Prüfung BI Übungskorrektur anhand von Ideenskizzen
Fri19.02.202115:00 - 16:30HS 7 Schütte-Lihotzky BI 2. Übungskorrektur
Fri26.02.202115:00 - 16:30HS 7 Schütte-Lihotzky BI 3. Übungskorrektur

Examination modalities

The assessment of the course will be made on basis of an oral project presentation. Thereby a poster and/or a small working model visualizing the specific engineering task have to be provided and to be discussed.

Course registration

Begin End Deregistration end
31.08.2020 18:00 02.10.2020 18:00 02.10.2020 18:00



No lecture notes are available.

Previous knowledge

Students must provide a fundamental knowledge of structural analysis and basic courses in steel and concrete structures. Only based on an appropriate structural knowledge, artistic decision skills can be trained.