Bridging the gap – Göte­borg zu Besuch

Bridging the gap – Göte­borg zu Besuch

22.11.2023

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Archi­tektur-Studie­rende der Chal­mers Univer­sity of Tech­no­logy Gothen­burg geben Einblick in ihren Besuch im Gruben­mann Museum

Combi­ning studies with real-world expe­ri­ences can be a fanta­stic and enri­ching journey, as it was for us from the Archi­tec­ture and Engi­nee­ring Program at Chal­mers Univer­sity of Tech­no­logy in Gothen­burg, Sweden, during our visit to Teufen.

Our first thought when step­ping into the museum was: «This building’s primary purpose was not to be a museum.» This actually fit the theme of our study trip perfectly, to reuse buil­dings in which their original purpose disap­pears, instead of demo­li­shing them. Up on the second floor, the house itself, with its exposed struc­tural system, was the first example we got to study. We learned about primary and secon­dary load-bearing and the inno­va­tive fastenings of the time used to transfer loads.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice

One striking aspect of the Gruben­mann family’s legacy is their approach to lear­ning cons­truc­tion tech­no­logy. In contrast to us as archi­tec­ture students today, who prima­rily learn through theo­re­tical educa­tion, they acquired their know­ledge through prac­tical expe­ri­ence. This hands-on approach allowed them to develop an inti­mate under­stan­ding of cons­truc­tion tech­ni­ques and mate­rials, empha­si­zing the importance of lear­ning through doing.

The approach of lear­ning was an itera­tive process that spanned gene­ra­tions. Know­ledge was passed down from one family member to the next, resul­ting in a conti­nuous refi­ne­ment of cons­truc­tion tech­ni­ques. Museums like Gruben­mann are essen­tial as they provide a window into this histo­rical itera­tive lear­ning process. Some of the Grubenmann’s cons­truc­tions no longer exist, making it impos­sible to study them in reality. The scale models in the museum become inva­luable tools for us as visi­tors, offe­ring a glimpse into the past that would other­wise be lost.

The models

One model that stayed in our minds was a church roof, where a bow-shaped wooden beam is used to support the roof’s weight without the need for pillars inside the church. The long sides of the church don’t require addi­tional support because the short walls and the arch effec­tively can carry the load. Such a clever solu­tion to combine a bridge cons­truc­tion into a church roof.

While the scale models of Grubenmann’s cons­truc­tions provide inva­luable insights, it is essen­tial to view them with a critical eye. Model buil­ders may not have repli­cated the real buil­dings and bridges with abso­lute precision, as they are, after all, repre­sen­ta­tions. However, despite poten­tial inac­cu­ra­cies, these models serve as fanta­stic educa­tional tools. As students, we could ask ques­tions to better compre­hend the prin­ci­ples of cons­truc­tion. As well as they enable our teachers to explain the cons­truc­tion of struc­tures in a pedago­gical way, bridging the gap between theo­re­tical know­ledge and prac­tical understanding.

Embra­cing failure as a path to knowledge

Another note­worthy aspect that the Gruben­mann family’s journey reminded us about is the willing­ness to embrace failure as an inherent part of the lear­ning process. With limited know­ledge, they had to expe­ri­ment and mistakes led to valuable insights and progress in the cons­truc­tion industry. This serves as a reminder for us students to be humble in the face of uncer­tainty and to see it as a driving force for lear­ning and growth. We must not forget that failure is a step­ping stone to success.

The idea that someone could acquire such exten­sive know­ledge without a formal engi­nee­ring or master builder educa­tion felt quite remar­kable to us, as present-day engi­nee­ring and archi­tec­ture students. Gruben­manns itera­tive lear­ning process and the persis­tent drive to create more advanced and more opti­mized cons­truc­tions after each project left moti­va­tion and strong impres­sion on us.

Engi­nee­ring and archi­tec­ture as living subjects

In conclu­sion, our journey to the museum was a memo­rable and inspi­ring expe­ri­ence. It gave us a deeper under­stan­ding of archi­tec­ture and cons­truc­tion engi­nee­ring and how inno­va­tive solu­tions have shaped the world’s bridges. We could see the connec­tion between our studies and the real world in a way that enri­ches our upco­ming years in school and future careers. It was a reminder that engi­nee­ring and archi­tec­ture are living subjects that continue to evolve and shape our world. We left the museum with a sense of admi­ra­tion and humi­lity toward the crea­tive and tech­nical geni­uses who paved the way for the impres­sive bridges we see today.

Authors: Linnea, Made­lene, Molly & Tone Bergh

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