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.


  1. Caitlyn,

    I feel like one of the strongest points made in this paper was about the notion of "hunting the shadows" As designers that is something we must do every day. I also enjoyed your take on Wottons definition of delight as a "cultural symbol." My only criticism of your writing was the repeated use of the ideas of commodity, firmness and delight. Overall great job.

  2. Wonderful work Caitlyn, you have met the word count requirement and tactfully meshed together notes from the readings as well as in class lectures. Your sentence structure and overall composition is something to be proud of. My only criticism would be that you either forgot or neglected to site where your image came from.

  3. Caitlyn- I love how you wrote about your passion for human interaction in a space and related it to the "Architecture of Happiness" reading. I also thought your point about "hunting the shadow" was well thought out and a valid topic to discuss.

  4. Well done. It was nice that you noted that theory and practice should go hand and hand and 'hunting the shadow'. I think you are understanding the material well and were successful in interpreting, analyzing and explaining it.
    You successfully tied in the readings, class discussions, and notes on many occasions backing up your writing.
    I liked your image, it does represent the 'theory' aspects you are learning but make sure they relate to the material and the actual building we learned about in the theory section