Wednesday, October 27, 2010


For this project, I chose the word 'Heaven' to display the symbolism that is the Cologne Cathedral. Cathedrals, in general, are all about making the human the minimalist and making heaven and the religious experience more grandeur. I showed this by adding details such as the vertical spires, the theatrical effect light has to show the divinity of God, the nave, stained glass windows, the verticality and symbolism of human to heavens, and finally, the narrow columns to promote verticality.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Point: Alterations.

The alterations unit is all about change and reformation. Coming from the foundations unit that was all about stepping-stones, this is about how to continue building, but at the same time continue changing. It’s all about figuring out how to break the rules and how to do well, because after all, one must know the rules in order to break them.

Moving throughout time, the Renaissance brings the simple geometry back into play. As seen in structures such as the Villa Rotunda, which becomes a template for many buildings yet to come, you see a common façade with a certain centrality about it. In class, we discussed the rules of the Renaissance, which include:

1.Reviving and revitalizing the classics.

2.A single decorated facade.

3.Separation of spaces.

4.Man is the measure.

5.Separation of spaces.

6.Patronage dominates building industry.

7.No building is one style.

8.Boundaries, edges, and borders are important.

9.Harmony through repetition.

10.Geometric patterning.

These rules are the ultimate prescription for most places and spaces of the Renaissance. Many residential spaces, such as Palazzo Mediu in Florence, it is obvious in the façade what goes on in the interior. Textures are different, windows are different, and borders define level changes, which define status. This is just one example of the basic story-telling society the Renaissance was in comparison to the design styles that were about to come.

The Baroque breaks the barriers of the Renaissance and alters the structural element of design into a more sculptural piece. It makes things come alive and the person who led the transformation from the Renaissance to the Baroque is Michelangelo. When he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he took it to the next level by adding theatrics and fooling the eye, but keeping bits and pieces of classical language. A main theme in the period is water and fluidity. Michelangelo also played with this theme as well, creating the Laurentian Library Vestibule. These stairs make it feel as if knowledge is cascading down like it was water. He changed the rules in stair making in the details with the curvature and the details within and on the walls. The person who really took the Baroque into effect was Bernini. He really broke out of the box of classicism and made things come alive. He made stone and wood look like fabric or fluid materials. In his statues, such as David or the statue featured in the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, they are literally theater captured in stone. They magnificently portray the emotion and body language of the human body more so than any designer had at the time, or even today.

Find this image, here :).

This image perfectly portrays the thoughts of the rule breaking design era that was the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo. The Cenotaph for Isaac Newton, though it was just a theory, was a ground breaking and rule bending idea that brought to life every idea that the great minds of the past stood for.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading Comprehension 4.

1. You would think that being all around the world, that furniture, buildings, and spaces would vary drastically. But the reality that surrounds that is that they all have something that link them together. One thing that is common to all of these things is that they all serve a particular purpose and they all follow classical language. For instance, the Chiswick House is a replication of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda, which you still see in various villas in homes around the world today, like Monticello here in the United States. These domed structures are like carbon copies that bring the regality and spirituality into the residential domain.

As Roth states, “[Design], was the first to outline the organic growth of art, passing from a period of youth to maturity of expression and then to a period of decline….such natural, social, and cultural factors as climate and politics to the development of art.” Therefore, these artifacts and spaces represent the people of their time and location. Whether it be the Windsor Chair or Sheraton Side Chair. They both serve a purpose for their ‘family’. They all come from the same form, some come with a twist. Just as they have evolved from classic designs, they all have classic principles.

2. Just as classical language was adapted in the ‘old world’ it was adapted in the ‘new world’ as well. Colonists brought over what they knew and merged it with what was available in the new world. For instance, we don’t see the same materials out west in Sante Fe with the Governer’s Palace as we do in the Single Brothers House in Salem. Out West there is more Adobe material and here there is more brick, stone, and wood used. Differences in materials show differences in design ancestry.

Also, as Roth mentions “Architecture [has] attempted to create a special environment for human life and to image the thoughts and actions of human beings as they have wished to believe themselves to be.” The New World was all about coming to a new place and breaking free from the constraints of the old world, which allowed architects to further adapt Palladian designs, as well as others, in much of the same way that their ancestors played on the classical designs of Rome and Greece.

3. For this Palladian inspired villa, I chose to put the more private areas in the back of the house and the more public places closer to the entrance of the villa. I started off with the basic rotunda structure and filled it in from there, instead of making the domed area a more spiritual place, I turned it into a study. I also included separate music and drawing rooms so that one may appreciate the arts more.

4. “The autonomy of architecture is here eliminated, becoming now an armature for sculpture and painting meant to impress upon the viewer a mystical experience.” (Roth pg 403) Baroque was the “age of theater” to some art historians. I believe that this is true in many ways. Baroque was all about breaking out of the Renaissance norm and doing that in a very non-traditional and theatrical way. Take Bernini’s statue of David for instance, Bernini captured the essence of David fighting Goliath. You can see the stress in his face and how tense he is as he rares back to shoot the stone from the sling. This is also true in much of Bernini’s architecture. Bernini would often manipulate existing site plans to tell a story. He would illuminate one particular building and relate to the surroundings. It’s a very Baroque thing to do, it shines light on things that are most important to the environment around it, so that it may tell its story. St. Peter’s Basilica tells the story of St. Peter himself. The baldacchino that Bernini is famous for in this building gives the illusion that the wood is almost fluid-like. It’s amazing the detail he gives to his pieces to make them come to life. The pieces we’ve learned about show that simple things can be turned into actors on a stage by simply giving them life, and recreating something with a twist.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Point: Foundations.

Foundation can be constructed in many different ways. We have learned that throughout time, forms mold into more developed systems of design. All the way from Stonehenge you see a progression from circles, to lines, to stacking systems, to columns and so on.

My perspective of the foundations unit is that the buildings we have discussed are the prototypes or archetypes for the buildings that we still continue to use today. For instance, the Theater of Epidaurus acts as a template for current day theaters. We use the same sloping effect of the risers, and try to emulate the acoustic techniques. Epidaurus is an everlasting structure, considering that it is still used today in Greece by performers. This just shows that the foundations that these buildings and structures laid out have lasting impacts on the world around them.

It’s crazy to see that even in today’s city’s we can see direct similarities to cities like Pompeii. When we look at the city plan of Pompeii, it’s all laid out like a typical city today would be. With all the major business districts centrally located, then comes the residential ‘neighborhoods’, and then the things that are used for entertainment purposes, but you don’t really want it broadcasted, on the outskirts…like the amphitheater in which killings occurred in ancient times. Ancient cities laid the foundation for our cities, buildings, and other various structures that we still use in present day. It’s remarkable that these traditions, for the most part, are still used.

The structures that began to develop were very diverse with many different uses, compared to simply the residential and religious structures that we started off the semester with and even the beginning of the foundations unit. The bath, aqueduct, arch, road, dome, colosseum, etcetera… are all examples of how vast the design world became with the Roman Empire and the expansion of civilization as a whole.

As we move forward in the foundations unit, we see the progression of the basilica into the grand cathedrals such as Salisbury, Cologne, Amiens, and Duomo. What these cathedrals bring to the table are new ideas to bring the religious message. They promote the verticality factor to further exemplify how grand God is and how small us, as humans, are. These structures point towards heaven. They represent the religious experience in every way, including the typically crucifix plan and the clerestory windows to divert light into a more divine way. These structures evolved from temples like the Hypostyle Hall, which used columns and clerestory windows to create a religious and majestic experience.

In conclusion, the foundation unit taught me that architecture used in the ancient times, beginning with circles, lines, and stacking systems, still continues today and that these early structures laid the footing for the time to come, and basically every building type has evolved from the buildings we learned about in this unit, which simply amazes me. This is why I chose this image to wrap up the unit. I thought it was a comical metaphor to show the building blocks and evolution of design. As architecture has progressed from these basic, and sometimes not so basic designs, it has become more intricate and elaborate like we’re beginning to see in the Cathedrals of the Gothic era and the castles of the Middle Ages.

Find this image here :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reading Comprehension 3

Salisbury Cathedral & Amiens Cathedral: Town

The Salisbury Cathedral was built before the city around it was built up. Therefore, when you look at it in present times… it’s a landmark for the majestic cathedral that it was intended to be. The Amiens however, was built after the city was already built up. Therefore, it was “carved out of its surroundings”. Visually, you can see the differences in background by the simple fact that Amiens is less spread out and more built up than Salisbury. Salisbury has a freedom in its design that Amiens doesn’t possess. It has the courtyard to the side, which emphasizes its ability to take advantage of the land.

Salisbury Cathedral & Duomo Cathedral: Impressions

Salisbury and Duomo speak very different visual design languages. Duomo speaks a very Italianesque language of bold colors and visuals that tell a story, especially in the dome, which is a traditional technique of Italian architecture. Duomo emphasized the perfection of the circle throughout, but much like Salisbury… it includes the narrow nave to impact the scale of human interaction and to show the importance of their spiritual and religious beliefs. However, the opposite effect happens here in the sense that Salisbury’s nave is decorated with colorful images but Duomo’s seems as if it is less important than the dome and is completed with a off-white wash. In historic times, these cathedrals were probably more alike than they are today. Salisbury’s external materials were more polychromatic compared to the monochromatic nature that they are today.

Salisbury Cathedral & Cologne Cathedral: Light

Light is an important factor when it comes to religious dwellings. The religious experience can be made by something as simple (or complicated) as lighting. In Cologne and Salisbury alike, your eye is directed by light. The architects of these buildings were well aware of this so they included things like stained glass windows, clerestory windows, and different angles for light to reflect off of. The circular section of Cologne allows an immense amount of light to pour in, which directs the people towards the front of the cathedral. Whereas Salisbury just has it’s rectangular windows all around the facades and darker nooks and crannies where the ‘cross’ happens.

This image depicts what a 'day in the life' in the middle ages would be like. If you could see the rest of the image, it would entail something like this... this room, probably a kitchen, would be separate from the main house (until construction becomes more developed), and probably made of wood timbers. The rectangular openings in the background are windows, which were typically high slits, but they typically vary in size and shape. When construction develops, however, these structures would be made of stone or brick and would more than likely be included with the main structure, most likely a castle. In the middle ages, people were more concerned about attacks and fortifying their establishments more than decorating their interiors with lavish things, like we see in some other time periods, which may explain the bare walls and minimalist nature of this scene.

Compass Project.

For the compass project, we had more free will than the map, but the same guidelines. We had to choose one structure from the Foundations Unit and then construct in a certain way to show people, nature, symbol, and material. Overall, I think I could've done a better job with my craft (aka, used watercolor paper and used better glue) and figured out a better way to show my nature. But I think I did much better on this project than my last so hopefully it'll become a trend :).

Map Project.

For this project, we were instructed to compose four 8.5 x 8.5 inch squares identifying four different buildings in four different ways. I had the Amielienburg, Selfridges Burmingham, The Hill House, and Touro Synagogue. Receiving my results, I thought I did better than my TA's thought I did...but all's well that ends well and everything is but a stepping stone in design.