Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
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
Sunday, October 17, 2010
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.”
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).
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
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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
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.