There can be structure without architecture , as in any machine , but no architecture without structure. There can be aesthetics without architecture , as in any painting , but no architecture without aesthetics. But is there an influence of structure on aesthetics ? Should we be interested in the aesthetics of structure ? To answer this question , we may ignore the definitions of the " beautiful " given by aestheticians through centuries and simply note that aesthetic tenets have changed through the ages. A piece of architecture once considered a masterpiece is often demoted later and labelled second-rate , or it may go in the other direction , from oblivion to fame .
Aesthetic tenets are dynamic ; nothing is absolute about them. And yet , mankind has always tried to achieve aesthetic results , even in its most humble artifacts , because the satisfaction of aesthetic feelings is one of the basic needs of humanity. On this basis alone , we cannot ignore those aspects of structure that are influenced by and, in turn, influence the beauty of a building.
It is easy to prove that aesthetically satisfying buildings can be designed even if structural laws are totally or partially ignored. For example, the conversion of a wooden temple into a stone structure led the Greeks to the creation of one of the masterpieces of architecture , the Parthenon , though judged from a purely structural viewpoint the Parthenon is anything but " correct " . Because stone cannot span as great a distance as wood, the diameter of the columns had to be grossly increased to reduce the span of the new stone beams.
On the other hand, some engineers have preached that one can ignore aesthetics because, if a building is correctly designed structurally , beauty will shine from the correctness of the structure. The innumerable examples of " correct " structures which many consider ugly disprove this theory. Engineers like Nervi or Maillart have designed aesthetically wonderful structures because their innate feeling for beauty guided them beyond their structural genius. One example is Nervi's Palazzetto Dello Sport in Rome.
It may be surprising to realize , at the end of this rapid excursion trough the field of architectural structures , that such a highly technological field has contributed and will continue to contribute to our innate need for beauty. To those of us who cannot live without beauty , this is an encouraging thought. The separation of technology and art is both unnecessary and incorrect ; one is not an enemy of the other. Instead it is essential to understand that technology is often a necessary component of art and that art helps technology to serve man better. Nowhere is this more true than in architecture and structure, a marriage in which science and beauty combine to fulfill some of the most basic physical and spiritual needs of humanity.