Interior space is the resultant of a structural system that provides an armature for the envelope and finishes that surround and define the edges of space, including the floor below our feet, the ceiling over our head, and the walls rising around us. 

Interior space requires span, the distance from one side of the space to the other. A structural system must be designed to safely achieve the spanning distance to support itself as well as any other loads that may act on the building it supports. The selection of a structural systemis a process of assessing the pros and cons of all the possible options, which are rooted in the materials available, their properties, and the size and shape each material is fabricated into so it can serve as a functional structural element. 

Structure, though, is not only a functional component of a building. Structure can play a significant role in the transformation of mere construction into architecture. Structure must resolve the forces acting on the building but can also manifest these forces to the senses, expressing for example weight or weightlessness. Structure is an opportunity in the synthetic process of architectural design to endow space and materials with a tectonic logic.

Readings and videos about the relationship of architecture and structure:

3 Seminal Steel Houses!

Yes, Steel for all! For Homes. Why not? Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health House in Los Angeles was the first all steel home ever built, beating Le Corbusier by a year or 2. Charles Eames built his steel home in Pacific Palisades using off the shelf components proving a house didn’t need to be custom. And Albert Frey, whose career started by working on Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye – and whose own Aluminaire House of 1930 sat in Old Westbury for decades before moving out west – showed, in his own House ii in Palm Springs, what minimal use of material can achieve in concert with nature. Notice the simple rusted steel picking up the desert colors, and the corrugation echoing the mountain crags. Architecture for All!

Richard Neutral Lovell Health House, LA 1928
Charles + Ray Eames own Home 1945-49, Pacific Palisades
Albert Frey’s House II, Palm Springs 1964. What a Little Lightness gets you. Perfect for Steel