RIBBON ARCHITECTURE

 

For thousands of years, buildings have been constructed in a specific way; comprising four walls, a roof, doors and windows. Somewhere along the line, we discovered the wherewithal to introduce additional floors levels if desired. Later still -long after we'd come up with the staircase- the invention of the lift made multiple storeys a possibility.

With a building's essential structure being predefined, the only real ways to introduce differentiation were through materials -first wood, later bricks and concrete- and aesthetics: the choice of finishes, colors and ornamentation applied to the building. The size of apertures could be varied too; windows and doors could take up more or less space, while porches, balconies and domes could be added.

Austrian architect Adolf Loos's Raumplan idea saw the introduction of differences in floor areas and floor and ceiling heights, with enclosing walls holding the floor and load-bearing walls containing windows, bringing the idea of different rooms with different functions. Later, Le Corbusier's Plan Libre, as its name suggests, marked the beginning of a flexible and free-form plan for each floor, with only a few supporting columns as fixtures. Suddenly, various layouts could be created around these limited number of columns. 

Ribbon architecture is the term I use to describe the way in which the walls, floors and roof come together within my buildings to form a single, self-supporting but interlinked structure. Such a construction ensures a continued sense of movement and momentum, as the spaces flow into one another. 

With Ribbon architecture, I'm alternating the 'zoning' possibilities that the Raumplan affords with the freedom of layout that the Plan Libre design offers. Thus an external wall might merge with the load-bearing wall of a house, as it rises upwards to curve into a roof, then move down into another load-bearing wall and, finally, curve round to form an internal floor of the building. Such architectural 'ribbons' can intertwine, but can also be accompanied with 'ribbons' of glass to allow maximum amount of light to enter the building.