The Visual Approach Concept


A major portion of an architect's education is structures. The study of structures includes engineering concepts presented in mathematical terms and architectural design presented in non-mathematical terms. We believe that the visual representation of structural concepts is the best approach to understand engineering and design. An interactive learning technique can be developed to meet most of the needs of architectural students, who are best suited for such visual approach. This approach targets the architectural students at the early stages of learning structures.

At the same time, in order to acquire understanding, both quantitative and qualitative thinking is needed in about equal measure. The role of the visual approach in structural analysis is to help students develop this understanding in both ways by providing them with the necessary structural concepts, as well as the parameters that affect them. Some concepts need to be verbal; others need to be visual. Teaching structures often tends towards one of these two polarities. Hence some students become verbally literate and others become visually literate. Here we are trying to combine both forms of literacy sufficiently well to allow students to rise to their fullest potential.

This research proposes a visual approach of structural analysis for architects that has great potentials for improving and developing students' structural knowledge. It should meet this through two ways: (a) by presenting the tools for developing intuitive understanding of structural concepts through visual analysis of sketches, pictures, and diagrams; (b) by providing a supporting learning environment that enables students to modify, and examine interactively the many parameters that affect a structural concept or component.

The visual approach implies four phases of knowledge development:
1. Abstract: structural system recognition and diagramming,
2. Visualize: visual thinking and qualitative,
3. Analyze: numerical and quantitative analysis, and
4. Detail: taking the solved component to reality.