Built forms and underlying geometries in 20th century architecture: Muuratsalo House and Leicester Engineering Department Building

By starting from the notions of rhythm, rule, and the analogy between architecture and music, the research focuses on the analysis and the representation of architecture and, in particular, of façades by comparing two case studies: Muuratsalo House by Alvar Aalto (1952-1953) and the Leicester Engineering Department Building by James Stirling and James Gowan (1959-1963). The methodology is based on the comparison among some specific façade categories: texture, basic compositional signs (connection to the ground, windows, connection to the sky), and geometries. The operating methodology follows these phases: i) the analysis of project drawings and photographic documentation; ii) two-dimensional reconstruction in CAD of plans, fronts, and sections; iii) NURBS modeling. By analyzing Muuratsalo House’s façades through 2D representations and 3D models, the research highlights the proportional and compositional relationship between walls and openings as a leading principle. The study on the patio’s fronts shows how this association gets more complex because the textures, rhythm, and geometry of the materials become the main elements in the compositional grammar of the house. In the case of the Leicester Engineering Department, the model allows the understanding of the general volumetric articulation. The whole configuration is characterized by the juxtaposition of multiple volumes, which impacts the façades, whose openings direct rhythms, textures, and geometries.