Bárbara Formiga

Published Jul 14, 2020

From the French word assemblage, this paper concerns the assembly, composition and intersection of diverse or equal materials becoming one of the oldest operations of architectural constructions. The assembly originates from the male-female fitting principle as a constructive consolidation system, avoiding fixation with other materials. Wood assembly methods used until the end of the 7th century BCE in archaic Greek architecture became decorative elements in the architectural composition later in the transition to stone architecture, giving rise to tríglifos (triglyphs) and métopas (metopes), pseudomorphs because they lost their structural function.

The technical principles of wood assembly are present in the architecture of Scandinavian and Russian Orthodox churches, where the structure of wood supports the subsequent construction of massive brick walls. The assembly technique of fitting together without fasteners such as nails, rods and metal screws occurs in traditional Japanese architecture and is updated in contemporary architecture, such as Tadao Ando’s Japanese Pavilion in Seville or César Portela’s Azuma Bridge in Japan. Bamboo construction, similar to traditional wooden assembly, can be found throughout South-West Asia. This system of constructive composition contains a wide variety of intersections that increase the structural capacities of buildings.

Assembly as a technique of carpentry construction metonymically transposes to architecture with the interaction and intersection between constructed volumes. This occurs both at the level of the planning of buildings and at the level of compositions of volumetric elements, as seen in the columns of the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, in the geometric and volumetric Baroque intersections of Francesco Borromini’s San Carlino Sant'Ivo alla  Sapienza in Rome, or even in the facade compositions of Andrea Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore and Basilica in Vicenza. In contemporary architecture, the value of geometric assemblies (both planimetric and volumetric) in works of Peter Eisenman and Daniel Libeskind is recognized. In short, assembly as a principle and constructive linking system between material components goes from the scale of the technical-constructive detail to the various scales of architecture, including architectural composition.


Funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. However, European Commission and Turkish National Agency cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Project Coordinator

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Department of Architecture

Sögütözü Cad. No: 43 Sögütözü/Ankara


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