3D UNIT VII: Structures

Project VIIC

 Building Bridges



--To gain further experience with a vocabulary of points, lines, and planes as applied to three dimensional form.

--To gain experience working with functional requirements and contextual factors.

--To understand the metaphorical, historical, and cross-cultural significance of bridges.

Project Overview Your challenge is to plan and execute a bridge that is both functional and poetic. Based on a vocabulary of points, lines, and planes, the bridge should be designed in response to specific functional requirements and a real-world setting.

Project References


--Bridge Basics: http://www.buildingtechnology.com/bcba/bridges/basics.htm

--Bridge Terminology: http://www.buildingtechnology.com/bcba/bridges/termsBrg.htm

--Truss Designs: http://bellnet.tamu.edu/res_grid/trussb/designs.htm

--Build a Bridge: http://www.edfac.usyd.edu.au/staff/fletcher/Files/Bridge_truss_project.html

--Hawkes, Nigel, Structures: The Way Things Are Built (New York: MacMillan Pub.), 1990.

--Lundquist, Laurie: http://www.asu.edu/cfa/art/events/deepcreek/Lundquist.html

--Billington, David, The Tower and the Bridge: The New Art of Structural Engineering, (Princeton: Princeton Univ Pr), 1985.

--Fences, Gates, and Bridges: A Practical Manual, George A. Martin, Ed., (Castle Freeman), 1992 (reprint from 1900).

--Kadare, Ismail, John Hodgson (Translator), The Three-Arched Bridge (fiction), 1998.

--Dupre, Judith, Frank O. Gehry (Introduction), Bridges, (Black Dog & Leventhal Pub) 1997.



arch, beam, catenary, compression, load, pier, span, tension, truss

for further vocabulary specific to bridge building, see "Bridge Terminology" above...





1. Before coming to class, review the thematic concept of Art and Technology as found on the website. Also read the discussion on Structures for Unit VII. Review the Project References above.


Research bridges in the library and/or on the Internet further. Keep in mind that bridge designs are a cross-cultural phenomenon and date back thousands of years. Remember also that your design is to be "poetic" as well as "functional" so think of ways to challenge the "straight" engineering approach.

Make some sketches for your own bridge design. Be sure to consider the context and function of your bridge.
Create a "maquette" or small model of your bridge.

Remember, bridges are not simply static objects--they are dynamic structures that provide transitions between often disparate points in the landscape.


Your maquette will be used to determine the potential success of your bridge as if it were actually built on site. Given sufficient time and resources, one of the maquettes produced in class will be translated, as a collaboration of all the members of the class, into a full scale working prototype.

Critique Ideas


When you have completed your maquette, divide into small groups and exchange artworks with another group from the class. Within your group, work together to respond to each maquette in turn. Consider the following

1. Describe the techniques for creating bridge designs your fellow artists used and explain how various problems were addressed (design, function, response to site, etc.).

2. Point out any personal symbols the artist used to indicate a particular meaning.

3. Discuss ideas the artwork seems to communicate. After some sharing of interpretations, attempt to state the "message" of the design in one sentence. (This artwork is about. . .)

4. Explain how the shapes, symbols, or other elements of the design support its message.

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