In Year 1 we discussed how the design process is initially a response to a
problem and a set of existing conditions.
The architect begins the process with a conceptual response. These
responses will be more enriched and varied if the architect has an extensive
design vocabulary. An architect can expand his/ her design vocabulary by
studying the elements of architecture and the formal ordering and
In Year 2 we will introduce you to the primary elements of form, spatial
relationships and organizations, circulation and the ordering principles and
their role within the design process and the creation of form and space. By
understanding these formal and spatial qualities in existing architecture we
can apply them to our own designs.
Architecture which we consider to be good will illustrate the elements and
principles organized together to create a unified whole where all systems
within the building are clear as seen next in the Salzman House by Richard
It is important to look at examples of famous pieces of architecture
(precedent) to explain these concepts, architecture from different
countries and time periods where we see similarities in concept or
ordering principles although often very different styles.
While you are studying these concepts, try to think of other examples of
buildings which you know, famous or other wise which fit these situations.
Think and anlayse places you have already been in new ways
Most buildings consist of a series of spaces which have relationships to
each other and to the circulation system. There are 4 main spatial
relationships and 5 main spatial organisations. Each spatial organisation has
its own distinctive characteristics. We will look at examples of each and in
each case you should consider
• the types and functions of the spaces
• the effectiveness of the spatial organisation as a response to the program
• how the spaces are arranged in relationship to each other
• how the spaces are arranged in relationship to the building as a whole
• how the spaces are arranged in relationship to the site
• the hierarchy of the spaces
• where the building is entered
• the relationship between the spaces and the circulation
In Year 1 we learned that clients will normally give the architect a list of
spatial requirements – the building program. As architects, we will have to
decide how to organise these spaces in order to solve the problems of
both the program and the other contextual factors, which affect the
There are 4 main ways that spaces can have relationships to the spaces
next to them
• adjacent spaces
• interlocking spaces
• space within a space
• spaces linked by a common space
1. Adjacent Spaces
This situation occurs when spaces have a relationship through being next to
each other. The physical and visual relationship between the spaces will depend
on the extent of the separation, created by the plane dividing them.
The relationship may only be through a door, seen in the Vanna Venturi house
Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1963, Robert Venturi
The plane may be freestanding and allow the flow of space around it, seen in
the Tugendhat house -
Tugendhat House, Brno, Czechoslovakia,1928-1930, Mies Van der Rohe
The plane may be implied only by a colonnade or be marked by a change
in level or surface material, seen in the Vipuuri Library.
Vipuuri Library , Finland, Alvaar Aalto
2. Interlocking spaces
This occurs when two individual spaces are interlocked, creating an area of
space common to them both, yet still retaining their own identity
3. Space within a Space
This occurs when a small space is enclosed within a larger one. The small
space can be open or completely enclosed with the larger, seen in the
bathroom area in the Farnsworth House, marked in pink below.
Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois, USA, 1945-1951,Mies Van Der Rohe
4. Spaces linked by a common space
This occurs when two spaces are linked by another independent space. The
relationship between the two major spaces depends on the nature of the third
and intermediate space, seen in Unity Temple
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Chicago, USA,1905-1908 , Frank Lloyd Wright
However it is very rare that a building will only comprise of two spaces and
therefore much larger spatial organisations are used.
There are 5 main types of spatial organisations and before we begin the
process of design it its important that we understand the features and
potentials of these organisations.
1. Centralised organisation
2. Linear organisation
3. Radial organisation
4. Clustered organisation
5. Grid organisation
1. Centralised Organisation
A centralised organisation is when there is a major central space, which is
surrounded by a series of secondary spaces. The major space tends to be the
largest. This is illustrated below in the Larkin Building with its central atrium.
Larkin Building, Buffalo, New York, USA, 1902-1906, Frank Lloyd Wright
The secondary spaces can be similar in terms of form, size or function, seen in
the Erdman Hall dorms.
Erdman Hall Dormitories, Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, USA, 1960-
1965, Louis Kahn
The secondary spaces can be different in terms of form, size or function.
The entrance is often through one of the secondary forms, illustrated by
the National Assembly building
National Assembly Building, Dacca, Bangladesh, 1962-1975,Louis Kahn
A centralised organisation can be used to mark a specific place.
The centralised space may be an outside space, seen in the central atrium at
the Neue Staatsgallerie.
Neue Staatsgallerie, Stuttgart, Germany, 1977-1984, James Stirling
A centralised organisation can be used to terminate the end of an axis, seen
Tempietto, Rome, Italy, 1508, Donato Bramante
2. Linear Organisation
A linear organisation consists of a linear series of spaces, seen below.
Richards Medical Research Lab, University of Pennsylvania, 1957-1965,
A linear organisation can be a series of adjacent spaces, as in the Eames
Eames House, Santa Monica, California, 1945-1949, Charles and Ray Eames
A linear organisation can be a series of spaces linked by another space, seen
Pavillon Suisse, Cite Universitaire, Paris, France, 1930-1931, Le Corbusier
A linear organisation can be a series of identical spaces OR
A linear organisation can be a series of varied spaces, seen below
House in Old Westbury, New York, 1969-1971, Richard Meier
Important spaces can occur at any point on the linear sequence. They can
normally be identified by their size or shape. This is seen in the auditorium at
the Helsinki University of Technology
Helsinki University of Technology, Otaniemi, Finland, 1955-1964, Alvar
Linear organisations do not have to be in a straight line but can also be curved,
segmented or be vertical, seen in the buildings below.
Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany, 1989-1996, Daniel Libeskind
Britz Siedlung, Berlin, Germany, 1918, Bruno Taut
Curved and segmented linear organisations can enclose an area of exterior
space, as in the Baker House Dormitory.
Baker House Dormitory, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Alvar Aalto
3. Radial Organisations
A radial organisation occurs when a number of linear organisations extend
from a central space in a radial manner.
The linear radii can be identical in length and form to create a regular form,
UNESCO, Paris, France
The linear radii of a radial organisation can vary in responds to contextual
and functional factors
The radial organisation can be varied to create a pinwheel organisation when
the radii are extended from the sides of a square or rectangular space
Wingspread, Wind Point, Wisconsin, USA, 1937, Frank Lloyd Wright
4. Clustered Organisation
A clustered organisation occurs when a group of spaces are organised by
Nordic Embassies, Berlin, Germany, 1995-199, Berger and Parkkinen
A clustered organisation can be a group of identical spaces
Centraal Beheer Office Building, Apeldoorm, Holland, 1968-1972, Herman
A clustered organisation can be a group of dissimilar spaces
Schnabel house, Brentwood, California, USA, 1990, Frank Gehry
A clustered organisation can be a group of space clustered around an
A clustered organisation can be a series of spaces clustered along a
circulation path or around a circulation element
Falling Water, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, USA, 1936-37, Frank Lloyd
A clustered organisation can be a series of spaces clustered around a volume
Villa Mairea, Noormarkku,Finland, 1938-1941, Alvar Aalto
5. Grid Organisation
A grid organisation occurs when the spaces are organised within a structural
grid or three-dimensional frame.
Crown Hall, IIT, Chicago, USA, 1950-1956, Mies Van der Rohe
A grid organisation can be a series of modular repetitive spaces within a structural
A grid organisation can be a series of spaces within a structural frame, which are
unrelated to the frame.
Millowners Association Building, Ahmedabad, India, 1954, Le Corbusier
A grid organisation can be based on an irregular grid.
A grid organisation can be transformed by removing part of the grid,
perhaps to respond to the site conditions or to define an entrance, as seen
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1967-72, Louis Kahn
A grid organisation can be transformed by rotating part of the grid.
Taliesen West, Scottsdale, Arizona,USA,1938, Frank Lloyd Wright
A grid organisation can be transformed though interruption to define a major space
Assembly Building, Chandigarh, India, 1951-1963, Le Corbusier
A grid organisation can be transformed through the dislocation and rotation of
part of the grid.
Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, 1986-1992, Charles Correa
As a good designer, you should be aware of the concept of circulation within
architecture and its role in our perception of the spatial qualities of a building. In
looking at the examples you should consider the approach, the entrance, the
form of the circulation path and the path / space relationships.
The circulation system of a building is the way in which we move through the
building. The circulation system includes corridors, stairways, ramps,
escalators, elevators – a fireman’s pole is also a form of circulation.
In looking at a building organisation the two elements of a circulation system,
which are most important are the approach and the configuration of the path.
There are three main types of building approach –
1. Frontal approach
A frontal approach takes one directly to the front of the building on a straight
Winslow House, River Forest, Chicago, USA,1893-1894, Frank Lloyd Wright
Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, USA, 1963,Robert Venturi
Villa Stein,Garches, France,1926-1928, Le Corbusier
2. Oblique Approach
An oblique approach takes one to the entrance of a building on an indirect
path. We are more aware of the three dimensional form of the building when
approaching in this manner.
Johnson Wax Building, Racine, Wisconsin, USA,1943-1945, Frank Lloyd
3. Spiral approach
A spiral approach takes one on a path around the building before entering
allowing the most understanding of the architectural form.
Falling Water, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, USA, 1936-1937, Frank Lloyd Wright
Villa Savoye, Poissy, France,1928-1931 Le Corbusier
Chapel Notre Dame du Haut, Le Corbusier
Configuration of the Path
The path through a building can be determined by the spatial organization or
spatial organization can be determined by the path. There are 6 main forms
path configuration –
1. Linear configuration
1. Radial configuration
1. Spiral configuration
1. Grid configuration
1. Network configuration
1. Composite configuration
A linear path is a path in the form of a line. The line can be straight, curved,
broken into sections or from a complete loop.
2. Radial Configuration
A radial path configuration has a series of linear paths radiating from a central
3. Spiral Configuration
A spiral configuration has a path, which starts at a central point and the spirals
out from it, getting further away
4. Grid Configuration
A grid Configuration consists of series of paths, perpendicular to each other,
which cross at regular intervals creating a grid.
5. Network Configuration
A network configuration consists of a series of paths, which meet at specific
6. Composite Configuration
A composite Configuration is the most common configuration, where a building
has a combination of the first 5 organisations. A hierarchy can be created
between the paths in more complex buildings by scale, form etc .