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.


  1. I thought your essay was very well laid out and articulated. The information flowed nicely as you began with Egypt and showed the developments of architecture up until Rome. It was a great summery of the foundations unit and very clear! Well done!

  2. Overall, your essay was very well put together and ended up being a nice read! I think you did a great job of summing the unit up into your own words, creating a story. Nice flow between era's of time!

  3. I agree with leslie and abigail your essay was laid out very well and clearly explained the differences and similarities of each era. Great Job!

  4. Nikki, wonderful work! I appreciate all the information you took form in class discussions and the way that you articulated your entire writing. I feel that you have a true understanding of foundations unit and the progression of design from different locations and times. Great work!

  5. Your essay was really eloquent and enjoyable to read. You showed a good understanding of the material from this unit and explained it in a way that someone who hadn't sat in class, or done the reading could still understand and that sometimes is the hardest part- so good job. You images is great, just make sure you site it! Good job