Sunday, September 19, 2010

Egypt, Greece, & Rome Summary.

Egypt - power, transition, pointing to heavens, stacking, longevity & story telling, made like beacons (pyramids of Giza), heliopolis, establishes axis, emphasis, scale, and hierarchy.

Greece - worship, order, relaying information, a-symmetrical balance, repetition (in columns & in the spaces created between), prototype for architecture to come, center is vital, porch, court, hearth, emphasis, scale, and hierarchy.

Rome - color, classicism, prototype for future, ornate detailing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reading Comprehension 2

[1] Hersey describes a grammar for Greek architectural elements based on the idea of sacrifice. SPECULATE about the validity of his argument based on what you know about Greek design and the evidence (both visual and written) he provides. (5 points)

I disagree with Hersey. I don’t think sacrifice plays a huge role in the design process. I do believe, however, that the design of the column is based on order and government. I do agree that it has a lot to do with the mythological belief system, but so does the Greek government system as a whole. The columns are tapered ever so slightly so that they point to the heavens, the temples and architectural elements were built to make us, as humans, seem more minuscule than the higher powers of the gods, goddesses, and the “higher-ups” in government.

[2] Meant in jest, Macaulay shapes a world of the future in which the main character claims meanings for archeological evidence uncovered at the Motel of the Mysteries. EXTRACT what you believe to be the lesson of mis-interpreting evidence and link that lesson to the real world phenomenon of the internet. In other words, EXPLAIN how you might avoid such a blunder as mis-reading evidence when you use the web as your major information source. (5 points)

Macaulay portrays the perfect example of people seeing one thing and automatically believing in it wholeheartedly. We do this everyday when we rely on the web for our resources. On the Internet, as noted in class, anyone can post whatever their heart desires and then it’s up there, without revisions, without any proof that the information is correct or legitimate. Books, however, are required to go through many people and many processes to test their validity. They are revised again and again to make sure that they are not false. To avoid ‘such a blunder as mis-reading evidence’…simply just go to the hardcopies! Go to the books. Because you know that information is true.

[3] The funerary temple design of Queen Hatshepsut speaks a very different design language than the pyramidal forms for other pharaohs. From your readings and the ideas addressed in class, RECOUNT possible reasons why Queen Hatshepsut used this building form. (5 points)

Queen Hatshepsut was the first woman to rule as pharaoh in the Egyptian society. The tombs of other pharaohs spoke of consistency and direction, pointing towards the heavens. Hatshepsut, however, kept hers low to the earth (in comparison to the traditional pyramids), and near the Valley of the Kings. Queen Hatshepsut altered the architecture of her time, just like she altered the government of the time, being the first woman pharaoh. She transposed her steak in history into her burial temple. Changing the minds of those around her and impacting the future that is to come.

[4] Although some evidence suggests links between the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, and some building forms and details provide support for that linkage, the two societies produced design responses in great contrast to one another. Select a building type (house, tomb, or temple) from each culture and ELUCIDATE similarities and differences in the two forms over time. Provide an annotated illustration for each selected type. (5 points)

Egyptian and Grecian architecture are two very different, yet very similar principles of styles. The Pyramids of Giza are symbols of status and perfection. They are the largest and grandest of the pyramids in Egypt. On the smaller scale… The Temple of Athena Nike at Acropolis is a tiny little punctuation mark on site. It’s one of the most perfect Ionic order structures. Like Giza, Nike is a lantern and a pinnacle for all to see. Both of their locations are important, as well. Giza is in the middle of the desert, all you see is the astonishing pyramids. But Nike is located on the edge of Acropolis, on the tip of a cliff. So although both of these styles are radically different, the point that is being made is relatively the same.

[5] Harwood shows examples of Egyptian furniture on pp. 60-61. HYPOTHESIZE about the lightweight nature of Egyptian furniture when compared to tomb architecture, as at the Pyramids of Giza, which many characterize as massive and heavy. (5 points)

This furniture shown is what lies in the tombs of the deceased. In the minds of the Egyptians, they believed that what was in their burial chambers, carried on with them into their afterlives. They wanted to bring their nicest, most decorative, and most ornate things with them into the afterlife, hence the lightweight feature of the furniture. The massive and heavy furniture, as described in the pyramids are not specified as ones personal objects. They are a part of the structure that has more permanence.

[6] Based on a careful reading of the visual evidence in these two images, DRAW OUT an explanation of design and gender roles as you see both depicted. As this language of urns represents essentially one of the main ways we know about Grecian culture, COMMENT on the validity of such a practice of reading evidence. (5 points)

Women played a more miniscule role in Grecian society. As you see on these urns, the men are sitting and the women are standing, serving to them. Even in the Greek architecture it is apparent, in structures like Erechteheion, where the women are literally holding up the building as columns and pointing you in the right direction. This plays as a metaphor that they are forever enslaved in pictorial form, or in stone, just as they would be in Grecian times.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The first of many...

This seems to be the first of many diagrams on the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright. I'm interested to see how different diagrams can be and how much I can know about one specific building. I love Frank Lloyd Wright and all of his work, so I'm really looking forward to diving into one of his buildings that was more or less a failure in some ways.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Point: Theory

We learned that the theory of architecture is a philosophic aspect of design. It focuses on the thought behind design processes. However, theory and practice should very well go hand in hand. A designer or architect must ride the fence on theory and practice in order to be successful. Vitruvius describes this balancing act as “hunting the shadow”, because we should not live on one side or the other, but balance between both. It is a way to mesh things like philosophy, geometry, history, eurhythmy, order, and propriety. We have seen the effects of the mergence of ideas and production within our daily lives and in the structures that surround us.

Commodity, firmness, and delight are a main focal point in the design process as well. Sir Henry Wotton describes commodity, firmness, and delight as the end product of well building. Commodity describes the function and how well it fits the structure; it’s a great fit for the building. It also plays on the physical control of the fit. Firmness obviously is talking about the stability of a structure and how it is built and the functional frame. Delight is how aesthetically pleasing a structure is or can be. Delight is the cultural symbolization. I believe these three things are a cohesive fit to the outer context to any design. As stated in class numerous times, size does in fact matter in design and context changes things in ways that we may not think of right off hand.

Harmony is a very important element in design and construction. “All elements of structure should be in harmony and everything should be happy.” (Class notes, 8/27/10). Interior architecture is described as a holistic program that focuses on human use. It is a way to manipulate spaces and constantly think about people and how they interact with the structure. Human interaction is something I have a passion for. I love to know how someone feels in a specific environment. I love knowing that something I could potentially create can make someone feel…happy. Architecture, as noted in the ‘Architecture of Happiness’ reading is something that has the power to change who a person is for the time being. It has the power to change attitudes and change emotions. This implies that there are many different undertones to design.

The way the mind works is very fascinating. It picks up on all these hidden meanings without recognition. Design can potentially have double meanings, hidden messages, and various relationships; as noted by Dick Hebdige. His thoughts were that there were “maps of meaning” and a subculture to design, which renders objects meaningful to the spectators. Design can also correspond to the mind of the producer and user as noted by Jules David. He felt strongly that there was always a link to the product and patterns of the mind. He found these things through description, deduction, and speculation.

So far, I’ve learned that architecture is not at all what it seems. There is way more than meets the eye. One must constantly “hunt the shadow”, strive for commodity, firmness, and delight, seek the happiness in architecture, and pay attention to the most miniscule of signs.

This picture of a Zaha Hadid pavillion, found here, is a perfect example of what we've learned so far. It shows commodity, firmness, and delight. A prime definition of architecture of happiness. And it lets the mind wonder into what ideals and thought processes the designer went through to get to this stage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

History & Theory of Design, Reading Comprehension

[1] Select an object or a building from any time period that you believe meets Wotton’s definition (as cribbed from Vitruvius) of commodity, firmness, and delight. With an annotated image, take care to EXPLAIN the ways in which you see the definition realized through the object or building. Use design language and concepts discussed in class for dealing with precedents.

I believe that a structure that fits the definition of commodity, firmness, and delight is EPCOT's Spaceship Earth. The geodesic sphere was designed to be a part of a futuristic theme park in which creates an atmosphere that is intriguing yet at the same time, intellectual. Spaceship Earth, specifically, fits commodity in the way that it takes you through a ride, showing you the stages of life and how life has changed and continues to change. It's structure also fulfills a purpose. The triangular pieces are gapped, so that rainwater can come through. They then recycle the water into the channel below. Spaceship Earth, therefore, fulfills the purpose, in it's entirety, that it was designed for. As for firmness, the sphere is supported by steel and aluminum posts that are scattered throughout the field to tie everything together. This adds to the delight aspect. I think that as a whole, it is very aesthetically pleasing in the way that everything ties together, it's simplistic and futuristic and nothing seems too off to seem unreal.

[2] Working from Harwood et al’s concept of cultural precedents, select one of the contemporary textiles illustrated above and PINPOINT the influences you see from the eastern world on the production of fabric in the west. Concentrate on motifs and patterns provided in Harwood’s text.

Many motifs are relayed into this fabric. The Oriental cultures emphasis on the unity and harmony of nature is present here. The flowers and the wistful nature of the whole swatch is something that would represent nature and feng shui. And to quote Harwood, "Feng Shui (wind and water), a system of orientation.". It represents the beauty and fluidity of nature, and even the elements of nature. Chrysanthemums are a prominent part of the oriental cultures. It's a symbol of the sun (an element of nature), a symbol of perfection when the petals are unfolded, and it's also an object of meditation.

[3] When considering perceptions of personal and social space, Hall and others suggest that different cultures have different space needs and attitudes. Most consider that citizens of the U.S. generally feel a need for more space. How does this play out in the classroom in which we gather for iar222?

Time plays a significant role in the change of the attitudes and personal discrepancies of the people of the world. Like space needs, in 2010 we have a greed for more personal space. Our homes are larger, airplane seats are bigger, cars are wider, etc. But back when Ferguson was built, back in the early 1970s, things were more compact. People weren't as gluttonous, or didn't have such a desire for an over abundance of personal space. Us, being United States citizens plays a huge role in that as well, because culture also defines how much space a person needs. Our backgrounds define who we are and the reason for our ways.

[4] SPECULATE about whether or not there can be an architecture of happiness, as de Botton writes in the work by the same title. Provide a juicy quote that helps give evidence to your views from the passage that you read. Include an annotated image of a happy object, space, building, or place and specify WHY and HOW your example exudes happiness.

Happiness is possible in any place. There can definitely be an architecture of happiness. As De Button writes, "Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places -- and on that conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be." This quote really spoke to me and brought me to Amelie's Bakery in NoDa. For those who may not know, NoDa is North Davidson [the art district of Charlotte] and is really filled with tons of cool places to be and surround yourself by. I went there at least once a week this summer and it was a place where I could happy. I could dive into my artistic side and be a different person, for lack of a better word. I could let go without any worries or fears. This is why I truly think architecture can be happy. There are many many MANY places out there, to each his own, that one can go to and just go to their core. Be themselves. Be happy. And each structure, object, space, etc. has it's own aura about it. Just as the quote states, it's the belief in significance that brings you to the state of who we really are. And architecture has the power to do that.