There is a formative connection between structural choice and architectural design. Where the term “low hanging fruit” has often been used with reference to critical first choices towards climate responsive sustainable design, a similar approach can be applied to design-thinking when it comes to structural choices. The consideration of the material nature of the primary structure at the conceptual stage of design can allow for improved focus during the design process. This is particularly critical when working with exposed structural systems as the materiality also directly impacts the aesthetics. Exposing a structure requires that the architect be significantly more technically knowledgeable in order to remain in control of the design outcomes.

This paper will elaborate an approach to instilling this type of design-thinking as it pertains to structural systems. It will look at the advantages of adopting a directed or limited structural palette in earlier design based exercises as a means of acquiring a higher level of expertise that can lead into more adeptness when dealing with the complexity associated with multiple materials. It will demonstrate that limitations can actually be liberating. Sample case studies will be used as a means to support and explore this pedagogical approach to design.