The paper investigates this potential, by studying whether it is possible to circumscribe and define urban ambiances in relation to the concept of the built environment across scale when applying an ‘urban tectonic’ perspective.Methodologically, the potential of such an ‘urban tectonic’ framework is examined by applying it to a study of a tertiary building development; in this case a bank, a typology not usually designed explicitly to influence urban liveability, let alone provide urban ambiance.
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Thus, the question of improving the liveability of the urban environment that forms the scope of the present paper is intimately linked to the delicate notion of ambiance understood as a means for describing the atmosphere of a given space.
Hence, succeeding in increasing the ambiance of urban space within the context of climate change and urban densification entails the intimate linking of architecture and urban design sought by Mohsen Mostafavi: “…one could argue that the traditional divisions between architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and urban design are still necessary for the formation and accumulation of specific disciplinary knowledge.
This requires us, as architects and urban designers, to refine our descriptions of ambiance as an integral part of the technical construction principles applied in the built environment, hereby considering it a continuous space, as suggested in theories of landscape urbanism.
By recalling the etymological meaning of tectonics as a contextual joining of aesthetics and technology at the architectural scale, the paper states that this can be understood as a tectonic challenge which crosses the architectural and urban domains.
As a result, the potential is opened up to develop further the theory of landscape urbanism by juxtaposing it with tectonic architectural theory.
The paper investigates this potential through a combined conceptual and analytical case, studying whether it is possible to define and describe urban ambiances across scale, in relation to the concept of the built environment, when applying an “urban tectonic” perspective.
Specifically, the act of integrating structural elements intentionally for the experience of the end work and mastering the material properties and techniques applied in its realisation has been emphasised (Semper, 1989, 1851; Semper, 2004, 1861; Sekler, 1964; Frascari, 1984; Frampton, 1995).
It is our observation that tectonic theories in architecture thus link to the question of architectural atmospheres dealt with by Böhme, Pallasmaa, and Zumthor, and to the actual constructive joining of structural elements at the architectural scale.
Thus, there is also the possibly of positioning tectonics in relation to the aforementioned pressing technical challenge that governs the development of the built environment as a whole, across the architectural and urban scales.