Tectonic Architecture

“Tectonic” as an adjective or “tectonics” as a noun refers to the large-scale structure of Earth’s crust and lithosphere. Outside of geology, the word tectonic may refer to a building or construction. The concept arrived in geological sciences prior to “plate tectonics”, mainly with application to  mountain building. The word is derived from Greek tektonikos or tekton, a builder or carpenter. Tectonic has been co-opted to indicate a rapid or global shift in, for example, policy.

According to Google’s Ngram Viewer, in English the occurrence of “tectonic” peaked about 1986. (This could be an artifact of the indexing process. Ngram Viewer operates on the corpus of terms collected by Google’s algorithms and at the time of this writing the corpus is updated to only 2008. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting pattern.)

“Architect” is a compound word from Greek arkhitektōn (chief builder). The connection is clear: architect and tectonic refer to the same underlying concept, that of structure or construction.

Now there is a phrase “tectonic architecture” that describes tectonics in architecture. Here is how Robert Mauldin described the concept in his 1986 master’s thesis at MIT.

Tectonics in architecture is defined as “the science or art of construction, both in relation to use and artistic design.” It refers not just to the “activity of making the materially requisite construction that answers certain needs, but rather to the activity that raises this construction to an art form.”

Tectonics in architecture emphasizes the constructional craft implicit in architectural design. Kenneth Frampton’s book Studies in Tectonic Culture is sub-titled The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture. Thus the link between the constructed and natural environments.

In architecture and construction we often emulate both structure and materials as they are in the geological world.

Bridge over the Pee Dee River, NC.

Bridge over the Pee Dee River, NC. 1/250 sec at f/2.2. ISO 25, 4.15 mm, iPhone 6s Plus back camera

Long ago in a galaxy far away…

Well, you have to start somewhere, don’t you? This isn’t the beginning. It’s just a place in time, or maybe a coordinate in space-time, when the world around you seems gigantic. The hill is a mountain, the ground is a rolling ocean of green. We are ultra cool with a stick and overturned wagon. Shades. The family’s underwear flapping about in a southern winter’s wind. You don’t know that you are part of a continuum. Returning via Google street view, it’s a micro-verse, but the house (that you can’t see here) is there and recognizable and so is the hand-built garage. And the hill, and the grass. We are still there, and here, too.

A stick and a wagon and a house on the hill.

Facebook Images

I lack enough creativity to distribute my photographs in some intelligent way, so you can find a number of photo albums on my Facebook page. Here’s a current list of the main albums below. The links will transport you to the relevant album. Many of the images don’t have much of an explanation; that’s what this website is here to do.

  • Of Geological Interest – I move images that have some kind of geological impact, however remote, here.
  • Nature – This is a home for images outside of geological ones.
  • FungusAmongus – Yes, I like to make pictures of fungi. What else can I say?

There are many more there.

First Post

More or less. There were posts to an earlier version of the Geologist’s Pick back when it was partly designated to service a university-level class. (See the Colophon for a little history.) That was before Facebook, Twitter, and the tsunami of social media onto our shores.

This site – it’s blog and everything else – are a reflection of my interests in this world and the next. First and foremost is geology and all things related to geology. But it also features photography, films, and just about anything I think about. I’ll use categories for most posts, so you can filter in only those topics you want to see.

Thanks for visiting. Rock on.