How Architecture and Engineering Complement Each Other

Lucia R

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Architecture can't exist without engineering, as much as some would like to think otherwise- thanks to engineering, our buildings stand strong and many seemly impossible things become possible. But, can architects do an engineer's job? Can engineers do an architect's job?

In theory, both are possible- take Santiago Calatrava, as an example: he's an engineer, but he does magnificent works of architecture all around the world. But not every architect or engineer can do both at the same time, as he's an exception to the rule: usually most architects can't properly calculate their own buildings, and most engineers lack proper design knowledge. That's why architects and engineers must work together, as one, to achieve wonderful things. An architect can, theoretically, design disregarding all calculations' limits: what if we make this building float? What if we put a pool on the roof, with a glass bottom? Then, engineers have the task of making it work in real life- either by making the project more down to earth or by creating a whole new constructive solution to make the architect's dream come true. Thanks to architects, engineers can make big breakthroughs in their field; thanks to engineers, architects can shape the world around them in ways some might have thought impossible.

The relationship between architecture and engineering is symbiotic: both parties benefit from each other.

This relationship has been around for hundreds of years. Gothic cathedrals are a good example of the symbiotic relationship between the two, as they turn structural elements like arcs, buttresses and piers into architectural elements- arcs are turned into arcades, which in turn make up the inside of the cathedral, and so on; at the same time, the engineering behind the architectural elements of a gothic cathedral made possible the concept the architects were trying to achieve : a structure that tries to touch the skies, big, sturdy, but light at the same time- trying to achieve that vision, not only architecture changed forever, but engineering got a lot more complex, showing us how tied they're to each other. With time, gothic cathedrals got lighter and lighter, as the engineering behind them got more sophisticated.

As time went by, more and more progress was made in both fields; architects got more creative with their shapes, and every time engineering had to rise up to the occasion. Things like skyscrapers and buildings with curtain walls appeared, thus completely changing our cities' skylines- this was only possible thanks to both disciplines working together. Thanks to the relationship between architecture and engineering we get buildings that seem to defy the laws of physics, buildings with openings that look like they won't hold up , buildings with impossible shapes, and buildings with such elegant silhouettes they almost look organic.

The more engineering advances, the more creative architecture can get; the more imaginative architecture gets, the more engineering progresses. The two are so intertwined, they make a full circle, where one can't truly exist without the other.

What are your opinions about this relationship? Leave your thoughts.

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