Monday, October 25, 2010

Point: Alternatives

Why do we have rules? Most would say because rules create order and if we did not have rules then everything would be chaotic. But then again not everyone follows those rules. Depending on the circumstance sometimes it’s ok to break the rules and break free from the every day norm. I feel that if you have a good understanding of regulations then why not push the boundaries and move forward. If we did not have people like this then in the world of architecture we might still be living under four beams and a roof.

Coming out of the Dark ages people saw light. They wanted to reform design and bring out an age of enlightenment called the Renaissance. During this time designers and architects revived classicism as they saw it. No longer was classical design about temples and gods but it was more for the everyday life. One example would be the Ospedal Innocenti, which was built by Brunalesque. The structure shows rhythm through columns and ornamentation as well as repetition and unity. Although many of the same aspects of classicism remain in the building its low lying form has a more humanistic feel to it rather than the idea of making man feel inferior as many of the classical Greek buildings did. Another important aspect of the architecture in the Renaissance was the fact that separation was important. Not only separation of spaces but also separation of private and public. Palazzo Medici was a prime example of reviving classical design and separating public areas from private. In the design of Palazzo Medici there is a lot of bordering and bounding of the exterior surfaces, this is one way they created space between the different areas. Medici also built the structure upward into three stories to emphasize the disconnection of levels. The design although separated is rhythmic and ruled by the needs of man. Towards the mid 1500’s is where we start to see change in the rules of classical detail. Linear turned into curvilinear. This is evident in the Laurentian Library Vestibule designed by Michaelangelo. In the staircase leading to the library it is detailed with curved lines that push outward secretly breaking the rules of classic design in the subtlest way. It is as if the staircase is spilling out the knowledge that is to come in the future.

From subtle curved lines came movement and action no longer was still life an option. Everything broke out of the box in the Baroque design period. Here is why it was so important to understand the rules of classicism, because if someone had tried to design a building without knowing the restraints and rules of design then everything would have been a chaotic mess. However, designers and architects understood those rules therefore they could break them with great success. Take for example Michaelangelo’s David, sculpted during the revival of classicism. It was beautiful in its simplicity, but very restrained. It was like David was in this box that he was forever encased in. Then Came along Bernini and he decided to break David’s box and give him life and movement. Baroque was about theatricality and dramatic light. One of the best examples of the Baroque time period is the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The design incorporated dramatic lighting through gilded statues, crystal chandeliers, mirrors, and floor length windows. The space was a living stage. The same design aesthetics were present in the Rococo period as well. Although I feel they emphasized ornament and feminism more than Baroque. One example of Baroque would be Amalienburg. It has a very simple exterior however; the interior is quite a theatrical surprise. It has a delicate encrustation of silver filigree from wall to wall and mirrors adorn the interior. I feel that in this time period people lived by the words of Shakespeare, “ All the worlds a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

Through the ages we have developed ideas and a set of rules that correlate with these ideas. However, the people who break those rules are the ones that will be remembered in the end. They are the people who said, “screw reform” and revolted to come up with their own set of rules. Many do not succeed but those who do will write the books for the future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading Comprehension 4

3. When I was coming up with the design for the Palladian floor plan and listening to the music at the same time, I kept thinking about centrality and symmetry. If you listen to the music carefully it has a great repetition to it that if you were to draw the music out it would seem symmetrical. This is where I developed my plan from, I wanted to take a square then divide that square up with a circle, so no matter which way you folded it you would always end up with the same rhythmic patterns.

4. Before you can break the rules first you must know them. In the Baroque period I feel that they knew all the rules of classicism and then turned them upside down in the most theatrical way possible. In times where classicism ruled, everything stood still with little movement, it was all about repetition and everything being symmetrical. However, this design atheistic faded when people like Bernini turned classicism on its head. Instead of having all his lines be straight and linear he decided to push the boundaries outward and introduce curvilinear lines that flowed and had movement. His statue of David is a great example, where as Michelangelo’s David is captured in a very erect manner, Bernini’s has movement and emotion. This is why the Baroque period is considered theatrical, no longer is staging beauty an option, this time period is about being in the moment and depicting action as it happens. Light also plays a huge role in the Baroque period. Light was used to enhance the beauty of the curves and enhance the contrast of the negative spaces. A great example of light play would be in the Hall of mirrors at Versai. The interior is gilded with gold statues and crystal chandeliers. The light comes in through the southern exposure that is adorned with a massive wall of windows, and then the light proceeds to bounce off the mirrors and reflects onto the statues and chandeliers. Creating the most magnificent lighting affect throughout the entire interior. This space captures a fluidity of movement through ornament, contrast, and light. An art critic of the Baroque era, Heinrich Wolffin, writes, “[the baroque's] greatest achievement, revealed a completely new conception of space directed towards infinity: form is dissolved in favor of the magic spell of light”. I feel that this quote defines Baroque and eloquently states the intent of the theatrical essence of the time period.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Foundations, the starting point to any structure. Whether it is a pyramid, temple, or a cathedral, they all have to start from the bottom up. I feel that this unit has shown us where certain designs began in one dominating culture and then over time spread to different areas of the world. And in their travels to their new sites they found innovative design changes and also adapted to their own cultural aesthetics and needs.

It all started in Ancient Egypt where pyramids began to rise in honor of the great pharaohs. They used methods of stacking to reach great heights to symbolize an entrance into the divine world. Pyramids were the man made mountains signifying power beyond measure. However it was not until places like the Palace of Knossos or Hypostyle Hall were erected that designs changed. Instead of having places where one person was honored and sent into the after life for eternity, they made divine places where people could come have a religious and mystical experiences. Here is where the first columns were introduced. Like the pyramids the columns were enormous to signify power of the Gods and making man feel powerless under their presence. They also introduced the idea of axial progression in designs.

From Ancient Egypt grew the Era of Greece, and with Greece came great change. The Acropolis in Athens Greece is an excellent example of design evolution. Here we see many aspects of design like repetition, contrast, emphasis, harmony, balance, proportion, and unity all within one area. Here many of the foundations for architecture were born. For example, the columns went through great change in just one place. In the Parthenon Ionic columns ornamented the outside, and although the illusion of the columns is supposed to be perfection in reality they are not. They tilt somewhat and if you were to stretch them upward they would eventually converge. The Grecian people designed every aspect of the buildings even the flaws. From the precision of the Greeks came the progressive Romans.

In Rome, it was somewhat of a melting pot of ideas and a revival of Greek architecture, but at the same time the Romans made many advancements in architecture. One of the most important was the invention of the arch. With the arch now one of the most used structural elements the column got pushed from being a structural element to being decorative, as seen in the Coliseum. With the combination of stacking layers and the use of the arch the Coliseum was able to reach great heights and width. The arch was a stepping-stone to the dome, which was one of the greatest achievements in Rome. The dome lead to many advancements in design especially for the Cathedrals during the Gothic period.

The cathedrals were a main point in this era because not only did the fulfill their religious purpose they were also a puzzle piece to many designs around the world. One of the earlier cathedrals, Salisbury had some of the main design concepts that followed through in all of the other cathedrals at that time.

The importance of culture and architecture goes hand in hand. Designs travel not only from place to place but they survive and develop through centuries. Even today we see many of the classical designs from ancient Greece and Rome still present in many buildings. They may not be replicas but the basis of classicism has revolutionized design and inspired new techniques for building in a modern world.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reading Comprehension 3

1) The amazing thing about architecture is that it is universal; someone starts a style and as move farther away from the styles origins we see how different cultures interpret it. Take for example the cathedrals built between 1200 and 1500. Many of them started with a simple design and as the design moved to different cultures it developed and transformed to meet the needs of that certain culture.

The Salisbury Cathedral is a great place start to comparing differences in designs. It is one of the earlier cathedrals that we had to compare. It was built in 1220 and completed in 1228. The landscape around the cathedral is very suburbia like. It has low lying cityscape and plenty of open space. The architecture plays around with different volumes. It has modest height throughout most of the cathedral except where the crossing tower is. The tower sores above the main part of the building towards the heavens, and can be marveled from clear across the landscape. Standing 404 ft tall it is the tallest spire in all of England. Inside the cathedral boasts beautiful stained glass to achieve a heavenly experience, vaulted ceilings, and clerestory windows to enhance the natural flow of light.

However different, the Amiens Cathedral has many similarities to the Salisbury Cathedral. Like Salisbury it has an axial progression through the nave, it also shares the same vaulting for structural purposes. One of the main differences would be Amien’s surroundings. It is more of a city area and has to be built up rather than spread out over a more open space. So in this case due to the culture and the surrounding area the design had to transform to fit its environment.

Although the Florence Cathedral is in more of a city than Salisbury it still has a design that is spread out and has one major point (the dome) that is much higher than the rest of the cathedral and towers over the city. It also shares the same ornamental ceiling that Salisbury has. Another similarity between them would be there floor plans, although Salisbury has more nooks and crannies, the two cathedrals have cross design, obviously demonstrating the religious purpose of the cathedrals.

In Germany another cathedral has been erected, the Cologne cathedral. Being in Germany it has more of a bold style to it. In Salisbury the cathedral has flying buttresses for structural support but they are not a prominent feature in the design, whereas on the Cologne Cathedral they are very prominent and a major part of its massive structure. Like Salisbury it has vaulted ceilings and also towers over its surroundings with its two spires.

Even with all of the slight variations in design the purpose of all of these cathedrals remains the same. They are all built for people to come and have a religious experience, one where they have sense of being in heaven with all of the ornate and beautiful details.

2) Life in the renaissance changed drastically. No longer were people concerned about details and ornament. It was a minimalist style where the bare necessities took center stage.

In the drawing the woman seems to be preparing a stew of some sort in the kitchen area. Because function was the only essential need, there were no comforts. The floor and the walls are bare because decoration was not a need to survive. Stone walls and wooden floors usually made up the construction of these residences. The solid materials offered protection to the families. The Great room was where most of the activity took place in the house. It was where the fireplace was (which is supposed to be the center of life, everything was done around the fireplace) they slept here, had events and gatherings, and also ate in here. The room was divided from the rest of the house with partitions usually constructed of wood. If there was any decoration in the house it was in the great room, usually on one wall hung a tapestry that told some kind of tale.

Life was all about amenities and how to survive with a minimalist approach. As long as they had warmth, food, and a place o gather with family and friends the people of the renaissance could live happily.