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Craft, Computations, and Constructions

Designs by Jonathan Dessi-Olive.

Masonry Tectonics


This research argues for a return to masonry tectonics in architectural education. It discusses the organization processes, and products of a funded seminar-workshop held in the Architecture Department of the University of Pennsylvania. First-hand knowledge of material and structural techniques, was made possible by faculty experts from the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Twenty graduate architecture students participated alongside masonry apprentices in three (3) design-build masonry workshops funded by the International Masonry Institute, with the goal of building thin-tile terracotta vaults and reinforced composite brick masonry cantilevers. Amongst the workshop’s lessons; thin-tile and brick masonry are characterized by both low- and high-tech performance properties; make possible large span, thin section vaults as well as structurally composite cantilevers; can be modeled using industry appropriate digital technologies: foster productive collaborations between designers and union masons; and help recenter architectural knowledge within a labor specific building art.

Link to full paper

PENNDESIGN Tile Vaulting Workshop


Philadelphia, PA

Workshop Co-organizer:
Franca Trubiano,  Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Pennyslvania School of Design

Other Projects:
all work by Jonathan Dessi-Olive unless otherwise noted.  © 2021 all rights reserved.