Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CounterPoint: Clock

For this square I chose to use place as my scale, and 3D as my form. We were studying Washington D.C. during this particular unit in class and I thought it appropriate to use it as the subject of my clock. My particular clock records time by using the dates on which the capitol building and the others that surround it were built. In order to emphasize the particular buildings I chose to record, I raised each of them by layering them on top of chipboard.

Point: Explorations

I would like to begin first, by recalling a conversation I had with one of my classmates. Daniel Salgado and I were discussing the McIver and the Julius Foust buildings, and their appropriateness within the bounds of the lessons we learned in the explorations unit. As a matter of personal taste, Daniel favored the McIver building, while I favored the Julius Foust building. Which is more appropriate in today’s world? A view that reflects upon the past (mine), or a view that looks forward to the future (Daniel)? The answer is both. When designing a space, place, building, or object, you must do it in a way that suites its modern purpose while giving it deep meaning, and value by reflecting the stories of the past.

It was from our two different points of view that we began having a discussion on how it is not always appropriate to view these historic buildings through modern eyes, because more often than not it’s original purpose was different from the one we assign to it today. Daniel didn’t enjoy the Foust building for this exact reason. He felt that its current purpose didn’t match up to the exterior form the past had assigned to it. I then reminded him of its original purpose as a library, and explored the idea of its castle-like appearance as a means of illustrating a fortress, a place of protection and safety. Daniel responds by saying, “Why the heck do we need a fortress though?” Both the Foust and the McIver building have their challenges in this present day when it comes to being good design for all, at all times. It was from this that we also discussed the appropriateness of renovations in general, and how some are more successful than others in reassigning a modern purpose to a historic site. Therefore it can be argued that certain historic buildings are simply to unique to be used in any other way and be functional. So it is best to simply preserve them in their original state.

In regards to the McIver building, all I could do is ask “why?” Although it is clearly an example of modern architecture at mid century, the McIver building is just one of those you look at and wonder what the architect was thinking when he drew it. The front entry doesn’t appear to match the rest of the façade. Even though the blocked pattern is visually interesting, you have to wonder why it is there. It is in this building that the challenges to modernism are made clear. The front entry is a perfect example of form without function, and its relationship to human scale is unclear. The McIver building is one of the first buildings on campus to gravitate toward what I call “puddle architecture.” There is a lot of stuff on the surface, but there is really no story to give it any sort of depth, and personal meaning to the building.

It is all of these lessons that I have learned through my semester in History and Theory of Design II. It is because of this class that I have learned to better observe and understand history as it relates to both the context of its particular time period, and how it is reiterated and reused in today’s modern world. As it relates to substance v. surface, I have also learned there is a lot more to design than a pretty face, I mean façade. It is important to have a surface, but it is much more important to have a deeper story to tell in order to give meaning, and great value to your project. It is because of this lesson in particular, that I have become a much better designer today and will continue to be into tomorrow.

Thank you Patrick! You have been a wonderful inspiration, and you are a wonderful professor. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Counterpoint: Machine

For the last of my 4 8.5" x 8.5" squares for my history and Theory of design class I chose to use the smallest scale: artifact, and to represent this artifact in the the form of a paragraph. I chose to right a bout the stair case in Villa Savoye in France. my paragraph on the subject is as follows:
Le Corbusier, as an architect of the International Modernist style, saw the home as "a machine for living." It was within this frame of thought that he utilized the airplane, steamship, and automobile as a way of expressing the form discovered in response to modern function. It was for this reason, I think, that the Villa Savoye resembles a strange cross between a private residence and a parking garage. Deriving his inspiration from the automobile, Le Corbusier wanted the inhabitants to "drive" through the space, winding back and forth always looking to discover what is around the bend. Because of the open plan, this winding experience and sense of discovery is mainly provided by the helical curved staircase and the ramp that doubles back through the center of the house. This smooth, spiraling transition and the idea of switchbacks between floors is what reminds me the most of driving through a parking deck, on the hunt for that elusive, perfect space.

Roth, pages 528-535

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading comprehension 7

The work I chose from the work and commerce section of the “Greensboro Collects” exhibit was “Les Constructeurs” (the builders) by Fernard Leger, 1955. When I read 1955 as the year I immediately thought of music, especially jazz, blues, and swing alike. As both an artist and a musician I am often able to recall a song that a piece of art brings to mind, kind of like a theme song in a movie. For this particular work I could almost match a rhythm to the repeating lines, or a jazz riff to the free form lines in the background. This brought me to the renewals and riffs portion of the explorations unit. Perhaps this work is looking back at Egyptian wall carvings, while also looking forward in its resemblance to the work of Picasso. Thus creating a riff portraying ideas anew at mid century. Both the Egyptians and Picasso had a way of flattening their subjects. The Egyptians did it by orienting each part in the view from which it could be best understood. Picasso on the other hand, along with other cubist artists, flattened simply as a form of abstraction; portraying their subject as if a heavy object had squished it. This painting does a good job of combining these two ideas while keeping the subject clear. The work looks backward for its method of portrayal, but is of a modern subject. This idea of a modern painting being a riff on the past is interesting because Harwood clearly states that Modernism strove to eliminate such influences. “For the most part Modernism strives to design for the present and eliminate most traditions, forms and elements of the past, rejecting historicism, the academic tradition, and the idea of style (Harwood p.613).” Harwood also speaks of the methods these artists/designers used to accomplish this goal. “Striving to avoid style, designers emphasize asymmetry, straight lines and rectangles, and flat plains. Parts are arranged in a series of geometric shapes and forms usually with linear elements (Harwood p.592).” All of which can be seen in both my diagram and the original work by Leger.

“Les Constructeurs” portrays two construction workers building a skyscraper. The subject reflects Modernism at mid century because the improvement upon iron, glass, and steel, during this time allowed allowed buildings to move upward in addition to horizontally. This theme of construction can also be seen in Abraham Walkowitz’s “Man with a Shovel/Worker”, 1904.

Similarities can also be drawn between these two works in the way their figures are portrayed. There is a clear emphasis on the hands, arms, and legs. The heads of the figures are also small proportionally to the rest of the body. The type of rendering also has a relative roundness to it. Perhaps this emphasis is the artist’s way of protesting or praising the work of the builders. Art, I have found, is never purely for arts sake. Matthew Nowicki also called for a similar change in his essays “Composition in Modern Architecture,”” In the overwhelming majority of modern design form follows form, and not function.” Art is a portrayal of an individual’s understanding of the world around them. Ergo, opinion, emotion, and feeling are also part of the mix. There for, these pieces were done in reaction to the change in times. Reverberations of both a similar style of rendering, and opinions upon the subject are present as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reading comprehension 6 question 3

Exploding the notion that modern interiors and objects were all black and white through a rendering of the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright.

reading comprehension 6 question 2

In order to speculate about the implications of “machines for living” and the phrase “less is more” on design today, I chose to use can openers as the object of my analysis. The fist set of openers is a set from E.P. Hand Tools Can Openers. These tools are machines for living in that they are also machines for survival. These tool were used to open cans of preserved food stored for long periods of time. Perhaps they were used during the great depression to open the last cans of food to feed a starving family.

This set of can openers relate to the phrase “less is more” in that they are made through simple iron construction. Although architects of the modern movement would call the head detailing on these can openers superfluous, it is actually necessary in order to prevent cross contamination between food types.

The second set of can openers I chose are from the Home Shopping Network. This can opener and jar opener set first relate to the machine in that they are battery operated, and have exposed cogs to show how it works. These tools are designed using a sleek, streamline design, along with chromed surface metals, and white washed surfaces typical of the modern movement. The ribs on the jar opener also remind me of Art Deco, and its emphasis on speed, and aerodynamics. These objects can be considered machines for living in that they relate to human scale. They are sized at 7”x3.25”x1.5”, and the molded curvature of the handle is designed to the human hand, thus facilitating its own usefulness. These items also display the values of today’s society: comfort, convenience, and aesthetic pleasure.

In regards to “less is more” these tools are the best representations, they are totally absent of ornament, they have no color, and there is nothing there without purpose. Although the E.P. set speaks best about “less is more in regards to function. You don’t need a handle that fits your hand, you don’t need it to be battery operated, and you don’t need a chromed metal finish.

Reading comprehension 6 question 1

Art Nouveau, as it relates to the countries of Belgium, France, and Germany, had a special emphasis on the repetition of curvilinear lines that create a whip lashing motion. This energy is often portrayed through line and form in both architecture and fine arts. “To an even greater degree than others before them, Art Nouveau sees no separation between the fine arts of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the decorative arts, such as glass ceramics, and furniture,” (Harwood v.2 pg.85).

This lack of separation can be seen in graphic mural like ornament seen in Victor Horta’s Hotel Tassel, and the floral print on the wall and in “Desert Harmony in Red” by Matisse. Both of these display a naturalistic vine-like pattern as a means of decoration on the walls. Although both use this pattern in a graphic way, Horta makes use of this motif in a more holistic and unified way. He uses these shapes as forms for capitols of columns, banister railings, and wall/floor decorations.

Hector Guimard’s entrance hall to the Castle Beranger Apartments in France picks up on the influences from both Matisse and Giacomo Balla’s “Dog on a Lead”. The vine-like tendrils on the upper part of the gate reflect the same wall pattern from Matisse’s work, while the evenly spaced bars on the middle portion give reference to a rhythm and a sense of time, which is a key component of Balla’s work.

The work of August Endell is also of chief resemblance to the work of Balla and Duchamp. In his staircase and hall, of Atelier Elvira in Germany, Endell has a lamp that shows radiating lines for each branch on which a single bulb is placed. This reminded me of the way the legs and tail of Balla’s dog is drawn to show movement. In this same way Duchamp also shows movement through the repetition of geometric lines in his “Nude Descending .a Staircase.” This can be clearly seen in the repetition of geometric lines, as seen in the legs and knees of the model as she descends the stairs.

Massey pg.46

Harwood pg. 85

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections Summary

From the reflections unit I chose to read the work of Nathen Howel, Blakeni Walls, and Dajana Nedic. These people in particular I have always admired for their work, and their ability to bring something new to the table each time we have an assignment, both in and out of studio.

Nathen Howel is a Beautiful writer. Every time I read his work I sit there in awe because I feel like I am reading a textbook. On the other hand, each sentence is worded so eloquently I feel as if it must be of a more creative genre as well. Nathen is also a wonderful digital artist. He does portraits that you would swear on your life were real photographs. So thank you Nathen for doing what you do. You are my Photoshop/IAR 222 hero!

Dajana, who is one of my classmates in studio, is also my hero in a similar way. Dajana is a wonderful artist. Everything she does is amazing, especially her handwork. It is beautiful. Dajana also has this ability to bring something uniquely abstract to the table. For instance, in her essay she talks about the “wheels of revolution”, and to illustrate it she uses this wonderful optical illusion.

Blakeni, all the while, in my mind is the Queen of unique, everything she does from the way she writes (with her left hand), to the way she dresses is unique. So it would make sense that her understanding of the material is also unique. She explains the material in terms of a clock. “In the 19th century I have observed that design is formed through the hands of time and operates like the gears that move inside a clock… working and fighting against each other in order for it to tell the right story in and of that specific time (Blakeni).” After I read this I could help but think… Bingo! Yatzee! You got it.

Alternatives Summary

From what I have read of my classmate’s (Kara Kooy, Kayla McDonagh, Abigail Buchanan) essays on alternatives, they all seem to have a thorough understanding of what this unit is all about. What I found most interesting about reading the work of others is how we all have our own individual understanding of the same basic information. For instance Kayla understood this unit in terms of a pizza, and how it can be customized and changed to suit the tastes/needs of people in other parts of the world. In this same way architecture is also changed and manipulated. “When taking from the past there is a need to make things your own, (Kayla).”

In this same way Abigail also focused on this idea of customization and alterations. When I think of alterations I usually of tailoring a dress or refitting your clothing in some way, but Abigail brought it to my attention that these apply to architecture too. If you stop and think about it, it is through alterations made to the models of the past that we get alternative solutions. “Those that do not study what was in the past are susceptible to repeating past mistakes, or recreating something that was better accomplished previously (Abigail).” This idea also reminded me of my own work on the subject. Salvador Dali was a key example of mine, and this reminded me of something he said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.”

Kara on the other hand took a more appreciate stance on the subject. Recalling her love for gothic architecture, and describing it in a way that let me see it through her eyes. In this she also showed a thorough understanding of the material by brining in quotes from the text and other outside material such as the bible. “There really is nothing new under the sun. Whenever and wherever there have been rules, there have been rule breakers (King Solomon).”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Point: Reflections

When we first began our study of reflections I immediately thought of water and its ability to return light from its surface and project a rippled representation of the world around it. This is similar to the way in which architecture has the tendency to reflect the culture of the society that built it. In this same way water in its liquid form has the candid ability to change, shift, and move in response to the environment in which it exists. This is why we often use architecture as a means of studying revolutions within society and the world. Like water, architecture also changes and shifts as taste and technology change within a social group. In addition to examining architecture within the terms of social revolutions, we have also examined it in terms of thinking outside the box v. a holistic view of architecture, revivals from around the world, and Japanisme as examples of these revolutions within the architecture of society.

As a continuation of our allusion to water and its reflective qualities, reflections can be defined in several ways: the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected, an image, a representation, a counterpart, a thought occurring in consideration or meditation, the return of light, sound, etc. after striking a surface.

Speaking of reflections in terms of an image, or a representation, the impressionist artist Claude Monet comes to mind. Monet’s water lilies are some of my favorite paintings, and I was thrilled that Monet related to our study of Japanisme. As I examined the work I realized that it not only literally shows a reflection of the subject, but also symbolically reflects our entire unit. The reflections in the water reminded me of the hall of mirrors in Versailles. This space is a prime example of a holistic view on architecture. There is design at every scale. Everything from the gilded molding to the color of the floors was carefully chosen to emulate and capture the glowing light of the sun, and the power of the sun king Louis XIV. We were also able to draw connections to this from music. The floating melodies, and the structured rhythm of the Autumn movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Suite reflects the fluidity of parts to the whole within the formality of the axial layout of the space. This seamless flow of space make the hall appear to go on forever. Monet’s painting also demonstrates this feeling of floating boundless space. The shore of pond is not shown on the canvas, but its trees are reflected on the water so it is as if the land continues below the surface.

Impressionist painting as a whole was a revolutionary movement within the art world. Rejected by most, impressionist art stepped outside the box o f an ideal representation of a classical subject and instead aimed to paint the essence of the subject. In many ways this is similar to the revolution that occurred in England and France when the new trade routes to China, Japan, and India opened in the 16th-19th centuries.

In general, a revolution is the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. In England, a period emphasizing purity of architecture came to an end in favor of the Victorian “anything goes” approach. This brought about the existence of Classical revival, Gothic revival, Moorish revival, Indian revival, Japanisme, etc. all existing in architecture at the same time. Making the home a fantasyland, an escape in which you could travel the world and never actually leave your home. Needless to say there were many ideas about what style was appropriate for the period. Perhaps these architects could have used a walk along the thought paths found in Japanese gardens. Western take on these were very popular in England and France. Monet’s water lilies resemble the ponds often found in these meditative gardens. The painting style is also based on a Japanese technique. The short strokes give the subject a light, rounded feel. Which gives it the appearance of existing in another world., reflections

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading comprehension 5 question 1

Harwood pg. 28

I believe this cast iron chair shows a revolution across style periods. Specifically the movement from the Middle ages and Gothic architecture to the Renaissance and the rejection of Gothic architecture because of its primitive nature (classical architecture had been temporarily lost). Now during the industrial revolution, and the Victorian style period, Gothic architecture is one of the many styles revived during this time. That is, in a more romanticized version than that of the past.

Reading comprehension 5 question 2

Artifact: Scarf

This scarf responds to design influences from the east in its use of a dense, naturalistic, stylized pattern. This scarf also makes use of the colors green, gold, and blue, which have associated symbolism within the Asian culture. Wearing this scarf in the 19th century would show good taste, because it was during this period that Asian influences appeared in fashion as well.


Space: John Maciejowski interior

This room, according to the 19th century way of thinking, would be interpreted as showing good taste, wealth and worldliness. This room displays the owner’s wealth through the dark, exotic wood furniture. Worldliness is shown through the collection of eastern goods such as: the Middle Eastern rug, the sofa whose shape incorporates lines often found in Asian architecture and design. He furniture is also carved with Asian figures in a landscape, amongst other patterns associated with that culture.

Building: Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion was renovated to its current state as a private escape for King William IV of England. The new design for the Pavilion features Indian Mosque architecture to the extent that it looks like western take on the Taj Mahal. This can be seen in the onion domes, the minarets, and pointed arches. This building seems a little misplaced being in England. It feels as though it should be in India, but that is exactly the point. It was meant be a wonderland, an escape from the city. This relates to the Victorian idea of the home as a place to escape from the bustle of the city.

Place: Kew Gardens

Kew gardens in London England is a perfect example of a western take off of Japanese gardens and the gravel though paths that intertwine within them. Kew Gardens is also dotted with Japanese structures such as Pagodas, and man made Koi ponds. And because it is a garden, it also features exotic plants that feel as if they are from the orient. For the people of the 19th century the Orient was a new and exciting place. Gardens like these helped to bring a piece of the exotic home to the people who couldn’t go to experience it themselves, thus creating a romanticized image of what it would be like.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Counter Point:Perspective

For this assignment I chose to use a building as the inspiration for my word. I chose to use Baldachino by Bernini as the source for my letters. the word is Aedicule as a representation of the aedicule within this building, and as a symbol of the original architecture, according to Greek legend. This can also be seen in the background of this piece. Additionally, both the word and the background are drawn in one point perspective.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Point: Alternatives

From my first day as an interior architecture student I have been taught that if you’re going to break the rules, break them with purpose. Breaking the rules and testing boundaries is an essential part of innovation. Stretching materials and structural systems to their absolute limits in order to reach the maximum desired effect.

Alternatives can be described as employing or following nontraditional methods are how we break the rules, and test the boundaries in architecture. For example, Amiens Cathedral in France is one of the clearest examples of testing boundaries, and breaking the rules with a purpose. Amiens Cathedral has the largest windows of most gothic cathedrals. In order to fit windows of this size into a stone structure some changes had to be made. In order to keep the walls up, the buttresses had to be pulled away from the wall while staying connected through stone “flyers”, thus creating the “flying buttress”.

Most often successful innovation comes from trial and error. Despite it’s negative connotation, failure isn’t always a bad thing, it is how we learn from our past experiences. A subject of humor, and an example of this is the front façade of the Ospedale Innoconti by Brunelleschi. The facade has a series of springing arches, each placed evenly down the row until you reach the one awkward column at the corner. The reason it’s there is for structural support but nonetheless it disrupts the rhythm across the façade. This is similar to an error I made while folding one of my models in studio. I was folding my ridges, and I realized I had this one big awkward ridge in the center with a tiny one next to it. But its through errors like these that we learn to be successful.

As architecture changes through out history we are able to observe how new methods change and improve the architecture of before. Observations of cultural/intellectual opinion can also be made by looking at the architecture of the day. Millennial observations can be drawn from the changes between Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.

Before the Renaissance, Europe had been in s period of feudal conflict marked by pillaging of neighboring tribes. Because of this protection was key, and castles were also the neighborhood fortresses in times of turmoil. This is why the afterlife and religion were essential to the people of this period. Heaven was a paradise away from the war, famine, and disease of the middle ages. Gothic cathedrals sought to emulate this paradise reaching heavenward through vast vertical spaces, an embodiment of light (a symbol of divinity) through glass and stone, and pictorial carvings to tell stories of the bible (loss of education caused illiteracy).

The renaissance, how ever, was a rebirth of what had been lost in the Middle Ages. Values were placed on education (especially in the classics), replication and improvement upon classicism, and measuring the world according to the individual. Religion was still a key aspect of society, but was practiced on a more individual basis, rather than in large groups. The Pazzi Chapel is one example. It is a small chapel built to house one individual family.

The Pazzi chapel also shows the emphasis placed on the use of classical forms in architecture. Like what the Romans did to Greek symbolism in architecture, the Renaissance architects took religious geometry from Roman ruins and stripped it of its meaning by using it for decoration. What was special has yet again become ordinary.

Baroque architecture made use of symbolism to convey a message in the same way that gothic architecture used light to symbolize divinity. Water was often a symbol for knowledge, and a flowing of ideas through society. As a symbol of knowledge it would make sense that a water motif would be used in a library. The Laurentian Library Vestibule by Michelangelo is a chief example of this embodiment of water in stone. The wave motif on the staircase symbolically represents knowledge pouring out from the library.

Even in today’s modern world classical subjects such as the Madonna and child are being reinvented in unconventional ways. “The Madonna of Port Lligat” by Salvador Dali is a perfect example of this classical subject reinvented. The figures are painted with rectangular holes in their torsos to represent their transcendent nature. Thus creating the art of alternatives.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading comprehension 4 question 3

when I heard the piece of music we were to base the design of our Palladian villa on, I immediately thought of a dance. This is the reason for the large central area, and the reason all the central rooms have doors opening to this area. This way humanity may pour into the space to gather, and socialize. In addition to using ratios derived from different musical harmonies for room sizes and placement of architectural details, I tried to imagine how people would move within the space, and dance around each other through the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reading Comp. No. 4, question 4

THEATRUM MUNDI “The world is a stage,” was the motto of the age during the Baroque period. Baroque architecture and styling was all about using drama and theatricality to inspire awe. The Catholic Reformation began during this period, previously the church had been opposed to the theater, that is until they discovered its power as a tool for religious propaganda. The Catholic Church employed the use of religious plays and theater in its architecture in order to capture the imaginations of existing members (preventing protestant conversions), and to bring in new ones. This reformation of the Catholic Church also called for a reformation of social behavior. There was to be a revival of chivalry and courtly love. “The… most important contributing factor in the triumph of baroque drama. The elaboration of a civilization of manners… exemplified by guide books of courtly refinement and culture… theater became a metaphor for social role-playing as well as a school where spectators learned to improve their own performance at Town or Court.”

Reading Comp. No. 4, question 2

In general, I have found in tracing common design ancestries across the Atlantic Ocean that in all cases there is a simplification in design. Wood is used for construction because of an abundance of trees in the new world. Buildings are smaller in scale, less formal; less refined, and have more of a horizontal emphasis. Architects a re building for common wealth and middle class families as opposed to royalty. Other influences besides European begin to show up in designs. A structural emphasis also produces designs that are more practical.

In Boston, furniture retains some curvilinear shapes in detail but is rid of decorative inlay, and exorbitant expense in regards to materials. In architecture English roots can still be traced in the way the 2nd story of the Parson Capen house has a slight over hang above the street to protect you from the waste being cast to the street. English roots can also be seen in the use of rugs. Ornate rugs are still present in America, but used with more modesty as seen in Hart house. There is a single rug on the floor and the furniture is solid wood, no upholstery.

In St. Augustine, furniture retains Moorish influences on decorative patterns, although less dense and much more simplified. Architecture retains the contrast created by the white washed walls and dark wood used in interiors. Emphasis is still placed on doorways through tile surrounds and ironwork gates. Geometric patterns and ironwork are Spanish trademarks that are still present in America. We can also se an integration of local cultures as Native American influences begin to blend with Floridian architecture.

In New Orleans, furniture retains a rectilinear form, is made of solid wood, storage pieces are compartmentalized and often have double doors, and a cornice. Interiors are still mad up of compartmentalized spaces, but don’t emphasize placement of these series of rooms along a linear axis. In architecture repetition of horizontal divisions is present, along with French steeply pitched roofs.

In New York, a great emphasis placed on horizontal banding and verticality , typical of German architecture, are present, along with steeply pitched roofs, and symmetry across facades. These German elements of design can be seen in the Single Brothers house, and in German/Dutch inspired furniture such as the shrank.

Because there were no classical ruins laying around for people to learn good design from, it was important for the new country to imitate the architecture of Europe. In order “To reinforce the nature of republication government,” (Roth, pg.459).

Harwood pgs.251-321

Reading Comp. No. 4, question 1

While examining 18th century artifacts, I found that they all spoke a language of repetition. This can be found in the Chinoiserie on the Palladian/Georgian desk and bookcase, the intricate carvings on the tall clock, the repetition of the circular shapes on the canopy of the state bed at Osterly Park, and even in the steady rhythm created by the evenly spaced posts in the Windsor chairs. Although there is great contrast in the styles of these repeated elements, most of them being very intricate and naturalistic while others are very simple, they all help to establish a rhythm within the object they are a part of.

While examining the interiors as a whole there appeared to be an emphasis on surface decoration. Whether it is on the walls, the ceilings, the floors, fabrics, or all the above these interiors seek an embellishment of surface. Some are more modest in their use of such decoration (parlor of Gardner-Pingree house, stair hall at Gunston Hall), while others take the opportunity to cover absolutely every surface (bedroom of Marie Antoinette). Perhaps this explosion of pattern was to help dematerialize the form of the space, but nonetheless it can’t help but draw your attention.

Through my observation of the exteriors of the 18th century buildings we have studied, I have found that a harmony of the parts is achieved through their use of classical precedence. “The purest architecture, that most suited to fundamental human needs and basic human society was what had appeared at the dawn of civilization,” (Roth pg.443). Proportion is on of the key mechanisms used in this pure architecture to achieve a harmonious composition in which all the parts relate. This can be seen in the size and placement of the windows on the front façade of the Nathaniel Russell House. Especially at the top level you can see that the windows are spaced about a windows width apart, the cornice at the top has ribs placed above each window, and even the keystones if the arches above the 2nd story windows match up with the middle of the 3rd story windows. This matching up and stacking of architectural elements can also be seen at Drayton Hall. Because all of the elements are perfectly proportioned in accordance to the façade you see that the windows and columns line up vertically and horizontally creating a symmetrical design.

In observing the architectures of England, America, and France as a whole, I can establish that they are all derived from classical Roman and Greek architecture. Although for different reasons and in different ways, all of these places are using classical architecture in order to convey social ideas. Other that the general display of power, and establishing a cultural identity, here are the agendas: England is using it because it is a symbol of education, and that there are nationalistic ties to this architecture; America is using classical architecture as a way of legitimizing its emancipation; France has a classicism derived from nature because they are tired of Rococo but just can’t seem to let go of realistic natural detail completely. Kind of like a back to the basics moment, a revised, but none the less a return to the dawn of civilization

Harwood pgs. 404-526

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CounterPoint: Map

For this assignment we were to represent four buildings using 2D, 3D,word, and paragraph forms to illustrate our four buildings. We also had to make use of four different scales: space, place, building, and artifact. For my project I used the idea of a journey. I started with a 2D aerial view of the Guggenheim Bilbao for place, then to the Robie house for building and word (Geometry), then into the interior of Gardner Pingre house for space and paragraph, and for artifact I used the ceiling paintings in the Banqueting House at Whitehall. My 3D element is that my project is an open faced cube

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Point: Foundations

Harwood pg. 86

In this past unit of study we have been observing the foundations on which the architecture we know today is based. We have traced back our roots from our first attempts as humans to put architecture and design in a landscape in Western Europe, to China and Japan, to Egypt, to Greece and Rome, even places like Teotihuacán. Throughout this study the concept that really sticks out in m mind is the idea of archetype, prototype, and hybrid. The idea that past settlements and structures are the basis on which new ones are founded.

In the spirit of foundations, let us first observe the fundamental meanings of these terms. An archetype is the original pattern or model from which all of the same kind are copied or on which they are based. For instance, an archetype for Greek and Roman architecture would be Egypt. We can draw similarities in construction methods in the Egyptian temple, which makes use of post and lintel construction. We can also draw similarities from forms, details, and techniques used in these architectures. The use of the column is a great example of a structural form that serves a symbolic purpose. The Egyptians use columns as a way to filter out light in religious spaces because darkness symbolized the mystery of the afterlife. These columns were carved in relief to tell stories of kings past. Different capitols such as the Lotus or Bud were used to designate importance to different buildings. In the same way the Greek orders were used to designate importance. Greek columns also symbolically tell a story of the sacred groves used in sacrifices to the gods before the existence of permanent temple structures.

In our studies we have also observed Greece as a prototype. A prototype is defined as being a model or first form. As Egypt was a prototype for Greece, we have observed Greece as a prototype for Rome. Rome makes use of Greek orders and building types as a template for their own. For example the Greek agora and the Roman forum were both open and colonnaded places for thought, and discussion. Temples were also similar in that both Greek and Roman made use of axial progression. Although Greek temples sought to correct optical illusions, and give the appearance of a perfectly symmetrical, and therefore ideal, building, the Romans sought to produce the “ideal” building in a different way.

While the idealism of Greece was related to symmetry, perfect proportion, and order, the Roman ideal building incorporated all these things, but with an emphasis upon lavish detail, richness in material, huge scale, and vast interior space. The Pantheon for example, makes use of the Greek temple front, and orders within the interiors as decoration, but robs the orders of their original meaning. The interior of the Pantheon is spherical in shape, representing the sphere of heaven. This is totally different from the rectilinear form of the Greek temple. These innovations demonstrate the creation of a hybrid architecture. Hybrid meaning being composed of elements originally drawn from different languages. Greek orders and elements adapted and mixed with Roman innovations to create a new and distinctly Roman architectural language.

This idea if archetype, prototype, and hybrid apply to the process we go through to create an architectural artifact in studio, which must be created by folding. I don’t know much about origami so I started with what I knew, a fortuneteller. This would be my archetype, and my base for exploration. I manipulated the folds to abstract the form to create a couple prototypes, then after doing research on Ron Resch a hybrid was formed.

This is the same way Egypt, Greece, and Rome build off of each other. By starting with what you know, and adapting as needs and improvements arise. This is the story of architecture, a constant building upon the foundations of the prototype of the past, to create the architectural hybrid of the future.

Harwood, pgs. 162-250

Roth, pgs. 353-395

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reading Comp 3, No. 2

From the original image of the woman working, we can see that she is cooking. We can tell this from the vegetables at the bottom of the image, and the large spoon in her hands and the small pot at her feet. Kitchens during the middle ages were often separate from the main building so she is probably located in something similar to the wooden shacks inside the bailey, as seen with the original wooden castles. This would also explain the woman’s simple clothing. Most villages were small and served a local Lord or Vassal, which lived in a castle that sheltered its citizens in times of peril. Meals and entertaining were often conducted in the great hall of the castle, so she is probably cooking food to be taken there.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reading Comp. No. 3, question 1

Salisbury Cathedral v. the Duomo: Impression

At first glance, these two cathedrals appear to be very different. Florence Cathedral appearing very Romanesque in style, while Salisbury Cathedral appears very medieval of gothic in its style of architecture. This Romanesque style is evident in the use of large stone facades and smaller windows. The reason for this is because the building is held up by its own structural mass, which does not allow for many portions that are not structurally supportive. Salisbury differs from this in that it has lightness and a lesser sense of materiality because the walls are held up by the use of buttresses. The large stone facades of the Duomo are also articulated by painted and carved geometric patterns. Painted surfaces also appear on the interior and front facade. Because of the lack of windows, color was employed by the use of frescoes, which were often gilded to help bounce around the light. These paintings were used as a pictorial bible in order to tell its stories. These are also located in the central dome. Which the dome itself embodies another Roman idea, the idea of a center, or being in the center of God’s presence. Seeming as the light came from windows in the dome, and light represented God’s divine presence this idea was achieved. The Duomo may have been established with the idea of a center, by Salisbury cathedral was based on the idea of a journey. As one move down the nave it is symbolic of ones journey from the time of initiation into the church (life) to end at the alter (death).

The Duomo also tells a story of transition. The Duomo and Salisbury alike use color to tell a story, figures are also carved into the front façade, also seen in Salisbury. This marks the beginning of the movement from mass to dematerialization in religious buildings.

I feel that the Duomo speaks a more “colorful” language because it is a building of the past, but also knows something of the future in that it incorporates certain gothic elements while still maintaining the spirit of the past knowledge of the Roman Empire. I feel that scale does speak to the power of the patron because Salisbury is larger in plan than the Duomo and was built in a rural area, but the height to width ratio of the Duomo is much greater, and it was built in an affluent city.

Salisbury v. Amiens: Town

I think the design features do vary as a result of the town coming first or last. Salisbury cathedral existed before the town. It was away from the bustle of public life so it included a monastery. Because of this there was a greater need for land for the monks to support themselves on. It was also because it was built away from every thing else that Salisbury is built at a smaller scale than Amiens Cathedral. Amiens cathedral also served as a political center and there fore a symbol of power for the town it was built in. It was inherent that they build the most vertical and dematerialized space they could. It was because of this that the flying buttress was created to help to get the largest windows possible. A building makes room for itself in an urban setting oftentimes by being built on the same sight as the old one. This is the case for Amiens cathedral because the old building had been destroyed in a fire. A building makes room for itself in a rural setting by being built on a different than before, or on new land. This was the case for Salisbury cathedral. The old building was in town but was destroyed by a storm so the new one was built two miles away. The challenges of building in an urban setting have to work with the land you have available, but this also creates opportunities for ingenuity such as the flying buttresses in Amiens. The opportunities associated with building in a rural setting are that you are not limited to the amount of land you can build on as long as you can pay for it.

Salisbury v. Cologne: Light

I believe light is the best way to understand the “dark” ages because as a symbol it shows the values of those who lived during the period. Education had been lost to the masses due to the constant pillaging of rival “barbaric” tribes. So light had been shifted from the illumination of the mind to that of the soul. The light shed through the many stained glass windows and over the carved and articulated surfaces of the interiors and exteriors of these buildings was meant to be awe inspiring in that it was supposed to resemble heaven. There was a hope and happiness to be found in the next life. It was because of the illiterate population that carved surfaces transformed the building into a pictorial bible. Thus the light illuminates the physical space but also the hearts and the minds of the congregation. Making light a basic element during the Gothic era.

Roth pgs. 305-351

Monday, September 20, 2010

Egypt, Greece, and Rome Summary

1) The big lessons we learn from Egyptian architecture are: a timelessness found in the large scale of secular and royal buildings and the use of stone as a building material, stylized forms found in the flat figures of wall paintings and carvings, and an axial symmetry found in the lay out of buildings.

2) The big lessons found in Greek architecture are: creating an ideal building by correcting optical illusions, the use of city planning to organize buildings within city states, the use of axial symmetry in building plans, the use of religious influences on ornament, and the creation of an order of importance through the use of said orders for different buildings.

3) The big lessons we learn from Roman architecture are: a display of power through the creation of vast interiors and the use of dense realistic ornamentation made of rich materials, the innovation found in new architectural forms such as the arch and the dome, and the use of Greece as a prototype for Rome’s architecture.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 6

In general, during this time period Grecian women were thought of as the property of their husband, or father (if not married). Their main roles were to bear children, and to take care of the home. Men held all the paying jobs, so it is most likely that the craftsmen that made these urns were men. We can also see male superiority depicted on both of these urns. In the red figure urn, we can see this as the women takes or hands the man’s weapons to him as he sits relaxed in a chair. In the drawing of an urn, this can be seen again in the fact that the woman standing behind the man who is sitting.

Both of these urns depict sacrifices being made to gods. We can tell that they are gods’ form the laurel branches used as a boarder, and on both heads of the men. The laurel was one of the sacred trees associated with the gods. In the red figure urn, trophies in the form of weapons and a shield are being presented to the god, which appears to be Apollo. In the drawing of an urn, a man wearing a lion skin appears to be making a sacrifice from the hunt to Zeus. He has evidently reached the step that requires him to take off the skin of the sacrificed beast. We can tell it is Zeus because the deity appears holding a scepter with an eagle on it.

We also know from Grecian culture that urns were used during sacrifices to collect the ashes from the burned offerings. Sacrifices were a ritual deconstruction and reconstruction of the being offered sacrifice. This placing of the ashes in urns symbolized this reconstruction of the sacrifice in another living thing just like it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 4

the Parthenon as seen in Roth on page 238

the Temple of Amon-Ra as seen in Harwood on page 58

In IAR 222 we have discussed the idea that as humans we are always using past civilizations as prototypes in order to create and/or better new ones. By comparing temples from both Egypt and Greece this idea of Egypt being a prototype for Greek civilization, will appear while also making note of their differences. I chose to compare the Parthenon to the Temple of Amon-Ra. These two structures are similar in many ways. They are, first of all, both religious structures built in honor of a deity. The first honors the goddess of war, Athena, and the second honors the Egyptian sun god Ra.

These two buildings are also similar in layout, both making use of axial progression to enhance the sense of making a journey. It is at the end of this central axis that a statue of monumental size is placed honoring the deity for which it is built. The construction system used to build these temples is the post and lintel system. Although the Greeks made use of this system in a way that corrected optical illusions in order to achieve the look of perfection. Thus creating what was thought to be the most ideal building in the world. This can be seen in the way they spaced the columns closer together at the corners to create the illusion of perfect symmetry.

On the other hand, the columns in the hypostyle hall in Amon-Ra are spaced more closely together to filter out light because darkness was considered sacred (Harwood, pg.55). Columns also served as a permanent source for stories of kings past. In this same sense, the columns of the Parthenon also tell a story. They tell a story of ancient trees used in sacrifice rituals to the goddess. These two polytheistic cultures also differ in the way they portray their stories. They both make use of painted and carved figures. The figures in the Parthenon are sculpted and appear in realistic perfection, while the figures in the temple of Amon-Ra are more stylized, flat, and permanent. These stories in both structures are also arranged in horizontal bands. In Egypt the bands are wrapped around the columns, and in Greece they are found around the friezes, and on the tympanum.

As sacred spaces, access was only permitted to a select view. In Egypt only priests and pharaohs could enter the chamber of the god, but a chosen few could enter the hypostyle hall. In Greece only the priests could enter the temple. Between Greece and Egypt, Greece was the only one to plan out the arrangement of its building complexes. Egypt just kept adding as time went on.

So as you can see, the Greeks in their inventiveness and willingness to change have adapted Egyptian architecture in order to better suit their needs and culture.

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 5

Through the readings and discussions in class I have come to the idea that the reason for the stark contrast between the weight and mass of tomb architecture, and the lightness of Egyptian furniture is because they are part of two different life cycles, only coming together as a ritualistic symbol. The tomb itself is built to last and serve its purpose in the after life, while furniture is built to serve its purpose in earthly life. By building furniture of wood it made these pieces portable and functional in that it can be moved around the space to suit a variety of needs. Folding stools were actually symbols of power for military commanders, and they folded so they could easily be transported from field to field.

It is seen in death that the person has moved from one life to the next. In preparing that person for the life ahead, they burry them with all the tools necessary to be successful in the next life. It is in the merging of these two lives that the deceased is even provided a place to sit and relax.

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 3

From the very beginning ancient Egypt had been a patriarchal society. Ruled by a single Pharaoh, a god king (usually a male), born into the role of king with the promise of becoming a god. These roles often merged in the form of the king’s burial sight and pyramid, all trying to build one bigger and better than the last pharaoh. This made a statement of political power, while also shortening the king’ journey to heaven because of the monuments large size.

Queen Hatshepsut, being the only true female pharaoh, must have been aware of the subordinate nature of the female role in society. Perhaps it was for this reason that she chose to a temple form for her burial sight. For her, the goal was not to display power as much as it was to take care of her people. By building a temple she shows her respect for her place as a woman, while also building a place for her people to ensure their safe passage into the after life. You may also compare this to the fact that pyramids are big, but closed off to everyone. People could enter the realm of the dead queen even though it is set back into the environment, and relatively small in comparison to the pyramids.

Being built in a cave was also a building strategy achieving maximum darkness, and thus function in the temple. For the Egyptians, darkness was the trademark of a sacred space, so building into a cave was a way to achieve darkness even without the use of columns to filter the light (of which there are still many).

Queen Hatshepsut was the first to make use of the temple form. This could also be symbolic of her accomplishments as a ruler. The axial progression into and through the building almost seems to beckon you in. this welcoming spirit was a necessary in her journey, as seen in the pyramids, the temple of Queen Hatshepsut implies a horizontal journey. In Egyptian culture the horizontal axis is associated with the life cycle. As one progresses toward and into the building it feels as if you are making the journey from life (light) into death (darkness). Because the building is one level it also implies a horizontal plain. Perhaps symbolizing the life cycle taken up in the after life.

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 2

The Motel of Mysteries, while very humorous, was a prime example of misinterpreting the information right in front of you. Doing this, I find, is like an extended version of the feeling you get when you misplace your glasses only to discover they are already on your face. You are seeing the world around you, but don’t realize the context of the situation. You forget to wonder why everything looks clear as opposed to the blurry norm.

The lesson I learned from the Motel of Mysteries is to never forget the context in which the information is presented. This is important because often times when the context of the information is missing, so is the information’s true meaning. So while surfing the web, I may have checked all the boxes as far as content goes, but I need to make sure I understand it too, leaving no room for mystery.

Reading Comp. No. 2, quest. 1

1) While reading Hersey, I have to say I was at first shocked by the content of his work on architecture and sacrifice. The sheer detail he goes into was enough for me to question the work I have chosen as my field. First of all, I never knew that architecture had such a seemingly gruesome background. As it appears, even through the shock and the horror, I was able to find some validity in what Hersey had to say.

Hersey’s work gained validity in my mind when I began finding parallels between his work and Roth’s on the subject of the sacred groves of trees, and how the different orders portrayed these ritual sacrifices. These ancient groves are now thought to be portrayed by the colonnades surrounding temples (Roth, pg.230). It was on these trees that the Greeks hung sacrificial offerings such as bones, skulls, fingers, and other ”sacred” parts of the sacrifice. This explains the double meaning behind the parts of the column. In addition to trees, allusions are made to the human body such as: the base (the foot), bands around the base (rope/bound feet), flutes in the shaft (slit throats, blood vessels, draining blood), and the capitol (the severed head of the sacrificed with a lock of hair [scrolls, acanthus, volutes]), and dental molding to represent the teeth.

As it turns out, the Greeks were not only masters of order, symmetry, and idealism, they were also masters of symbolism; giving meaning to everything that they built. So much so even dismemberment, and sacrifice can be found pleasing. Until you get to the meat of it, so to speak.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Point: Theories

As I have gone through these past two weeks of school I have begun to truly understand what it means to be a designer. In order to be a good designer you need to have a vast knowledge of people, and how they interact with and use their environment. Through work in both studio and this class I have learned that everything that is built or designed is made to fit a human purpose. Man is not only the measurer of all things, but he also shapes all things in his environment to his purpose.

Sir Henry Wooton may not have been the philosopher that Plato was, but he did know a thing or two about architecture. Wooton taught us to always design with the end in mind. This forces us to imagine people moving around the building going about their business. By doing this, we can prevent tragedies such as the collapsing of the glass bridge in the hotel mentioned in our readings. Thus by keeping commodity, firmness, and delight in the forefront of our minds while we design, we cannot only build a beautiful space, but a safe one.

I think of commodity, firmness, and delight every time I walk into the bathroom in my dorm, and how much I wish the architect thought of these when he drew the plan. The order of this room is all wrong. When you first go in there are the stalls, then the sinks, and then the showers. So you constantly have to back track after using the toilet. This bathroom is not functional, and thus not enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoyable, I learned a lot about myself as a person and a designer when I read de Botton’s An Architecture of Happiness. A few things struck me when I read this, but I really saw when he spoke about those individuals who “… are content to lie on the floor tracing the knotted border of an intricate Turkoman rug…” I immediately thought, “that sounds like me.” Where ever I go I take pictures of things that interest me. For example, I recently took a picture of an antique Singer sewing machine. What really stuck out to me was the artistry that went into creating such an intricate design, and the pristine condition of the paint made it pop off of the black metal of the machine. As I continued reading the quote de Botton went on to say “… then they will know something about patience and stability, tenderness and sweetness, intelligence and worldliness, skepticism and trust…”

When I read this I thought two things: One being “I hope so,” and the other being how my best friend Andrew embodied all of these qualities almost perfectly. I have been thinking of him a lot lately. I guess now would be the time to bring my other de Botton quote into play. “We may need to have made an indelible mark on our lives… or lost a loved one before architecture can begin to have any perceptible impact on us… it is in dialog with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value,” (pg.9-10).

Before Andrew’s death I had always been fascinated by intricate patterns, as seen on the sewing machine. It wasn’t until after his death that I gained a true appreciation for things of simplicity: clean lines, simple form, etc. This can be seen in the pot from my last exercise. Though simple in form, the complexity of the ideas behind its shape gives this pot, like many things, a new meaning.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project No.1: Part A- the Vitruvian Me

This part of our first project was essentially an anatomical study of our own bodies in order to understand how our bodies relate to the spaces and objects around us. We did this using series of drawings studying the body in parts and how the parts relate to the whole.
My concept for my particular project was "the Vitruvian Me". Based on Vitruvius's idea of the ideal figure, I replaced it with myself with my personal proportions. It was by doing that and stacking my proportionate figure in order to get an idea of how different sized objects related to my body as a whole. these drawings were based on the illustrations of this theory by Leonardo di Vinci. The next step I hope to take in this project is to continue to understand my body as it moves, and in terms of a volume.