Visual Approach for Structural Education
Concurrent Forces
Colinear Forces

Unit Gizmos
Resolution of Forces
Simple Truss
Bridge Tower

Section Properties

Truss Analysis

Beam Analysis



Better understanding of structures leads to  better architecture

A major portion of an architect’s education is structures. Such study of structures includes engineering concepts presented in mathematical terms and architectural design presented in non-mathematical terms. Visual representation of structural concepts is the an excellent approach to understand engineering and design. An interactive learning technique can be developed to meet 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. 

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 component. 

The proposed visual approach is a systematic procedure consisting of four sequential steps to develop a rational structural analysis process. These steps are: 
(a) abstraction of structural system and diagramming, 
(b) qualitative visual thinking and analysis, 
(c) quantitative numerical analysis, and 
(d) detailing of solved component. 

The visual approach considers the role for a more interactive and more proactive use of computer graphics as supporting medium for structural understanding especially at the two phases of visualize and analyze. This role embraces supporting visual modules, gizmos. These gismos are self-paced interactive learning units, within which the student can interact with an abstracted structural component using different parameters both visually and numerically.

The visual approach encourages the use of visual tools such as pictures and graphics to attract attention, arouse interest, assist concept development and reinforce instruction. Visual tools can serve interpretation of abstracted information, representation of verbal information, organization of functions, and decoration for textual information.

 The research sketches a class outline for the fundamental knowledge of structural analysis that students of architecture need to ensure that their expressions architecture are both rational and efficient. The class outline goes in sequence from the introduction to basic concepts which are considered as prerequisites before the analysis of structural components and concludes with evaluation through exams and quizzes.  At the same time, the research delineates the relationship between the traditional class and on-line supporting materials at three levels of knowledge development: information giving, concepts augmentation and knowledge evaluation. The research surveys assessment methods and suggests an assessment model for the instruction system from three major angles: learning, task completion and performance. 

Finally, the research concludes by drawing the merits of the visual approach with the on-line interactive supporting system and the future of applying it to other disciplines of architectural education.