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 fa├žade, 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.