"Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air and deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves; the echo of a distant time came willowing across the sand and everything is green and submarine"

Pink Floyd

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reading Comprehension 3

1) Notre Dame of Amiens was inspired by Suger’s church, the monastery of Saint Dennis. Suger is known to be the founder of Gothic architecture. He improved the optical illusion of height and space by adding ribbed vaulting and pointed arches to the aedicule. Suger’s goal was to create a lighter more transparent architecture. Suger used natural lighting through stain glass windows to provide the essence of divine illumination.
The cathedrals that followed the Saint Dennis model were large and extravagant structures that took several years, possibly generations, to create. The construction time and complexity of the structure formed a unifying social principle. This theory reverts back to the pyramids and their ability to unify society under lifetime construction projects that created a microeconomic structure. There are differences in social construction between the pyramids and cathedrals. The pyramids were dedicated to one god like being who when died and exited the earth ending construction and social unification. The cathedrals, before and after completion provided a place for society to gather and unify. The church’s principle was to promote the worship of an everlasting being, providing ongoing use for the structure. The cathedral unified the city, and society was constructed around the church. As cities expanded more and more cathedrals arose. This unification principle can also be applied to moral standards in modern life. A society lacking in reinforced historical standards will split and regress due to a vast array of opinion. This is also evident in the reunification of the Roman Empire under Constantine. Constantine used a single religion that focused on peaceful cooperation to unify Rome under logical principles of sustainability.  
Notre Dame of Amiens is the largest cathedral in France. It is theorized that the increasing space is a reaction to the failed attempt at retaking the holy lands from the Muslims. The reaction was that the cathedral itself needed to be as vast and complex as possible to provide a visual example of divinity, since the symbolism of the holy lands were lost. This resulted in the increase of the size of gallery windows to allow more visual transparency. In order to create this effect the vaulting over the nave had to be changed in an unconventional way. The vaults were stretched upward losing the Roman barrel vaulting. Another vault was placed under the top and under the ceiling for reinforcement and created a skeletal ribbed structure. The exposed rib continued down the interior as an exposed column. A repetition and stacking of vaults occurred over the side isles creating the flying buttress. This structure defined the aedicule elaborately and possibly too much. The term Gothic, meaning barbaric, was possibly derived from resemblance of the exposed ribbed vaults to that of the human skeleton. Possibly the incorrect deduction was derived from a face value observation.
The overall shape of the church was derived from Romanesque pilgrimage churches. The cross shape has a nave with side isles and transept arms enclosing a round ended choir. The many chapels were dedicated to various saints. This stood to preserve the religious connection throughout time and give a lasting social construct. This also shows forward thinking in architectural design. The transept isles were paid for by various craft guilds and used for secular gatherings.  This shows that the church was the center of society and a pillar for social hierarchy. Entrances on the transept arms provided personal access to the secular isles. Another addition to the church is the towers located at the west entrance. This differed from other period churches in that only one tower was located at the crossing.

2) The woman is probably in one of the lesser rooms on the premises based upon the artifacts surrounding her. The room probably extends out into a courtyard that connects other residences. Another possibility is the connection to a great hall, a multifunctional living space that connected multiple rooms into one structure. The floor was probably dirt or brick. The walls were made of wood and windows were small possibly with iron mullions. The room was lit by a fire pit or candles. Textiles provide wall decorations such as hung rugs and tapestries. The ceilings were beamed in a heavy timber construction. Judging by the arched curve in the door header she is not of the poorest class as they would have only a post and beam style door. The furniture consisted of wooden chests, benches, stools, and tables with small scale motifs. The furniture is made of oak, pine or walnut and is held together by wooden dowels. The furniture is painted in bright colors. Textiles are used for seat padding. Beds are boxlike and surrounded with draperies for privacy and warmth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Egypt, Greek, Rome Summary

1.       Egypt: The afterlife was the focal point in Egyptian culture. The pyramids were built as a gateway to the afterlife for the Pharaohs. The task of building these was the organizational motivation for the culture. It is only fitting that each piece of architecture takes on its own symbolism of the afterlife.  The symbolism was not connected in any uniform manner other than structure. The geographical region was also of importance in determining the structure material and firmness. Artifacts were designed for purpose but with latent meaning. Yet the design was so intricate that Egypt became the foundation of architectural design for the surrounding civilizations.

2.       Greece: The Greeks adapted their architectural design from the Egyptians. Using large scale columns and buildings to have meaning of the afterlife. However the symbolism was not the same. The Greek structure was unified in meaning, having a colonnade to define hierarchy as a pedestal for the gods. Each aedicule had a woven connective purpose. The Greeks also improved the architecture with entasis, a way of highlighting a buildings large scale.

3.       Rome: The Romans adapted their architecture from the great mass of colonies they annexed. Most of all they incorporated Greek architecture. Rome developed great engineering accomplishments. Roads and basilica shaped aqueducts led every region of the empire back to the heart in Rome. The Roman aedicule was even more defined than that of the Greeks. The temples were built on specific axis designated by the priests. Then these were decorated with Greek architectural details.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading Comprehension 2

Reading Comprehension 2
1. Hersey makes the point that all aspects of Greek architecture are rooted around sacrifice. He makes face value connections between the column and the sacrificial body. Hersey connects visual meanings between objects on the columns to sacrificial beings. He then compounds upon the conclusion. His point is one sided. The Greeks emphasized monumental size and proper proportion as respect to the gods. However the latent meaning behind the column may be present. The Parthenon displays the point made by Hersey. Upon the pedestal of sacrifice is set a depiction of the battle between Athena and Poseidon. This seems fitting hierarchy to put an honor to the gods above a sacrificial monument. There are many different columns displayed in different places throughout Greece. If Hersey’s point was valid a specific style column would be more appropriate in certain structures. Hersey makes reference to intricate details in the Corinthian style column. These details are in reference to the sacrificial body. The Corinthian column is prominently derived from the Egyptian lotus leaf and could have a different meaning in Egypt.

2. The lessons learned here are not to take everything at face value. As the archaeologist moved through the room he named everything and theorized as soon as he saw an artifact. He made incorrect deductions due to overconfidence and ego. This can be compared to information on the internet. Certain sites claiming to be credible extract information from resources with no citations. Certain references may be deducing incorrectly. This gives reason for researching the sites credibility and citing information.
3.  Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb was built into the side of a mountain. By doing so the mountain becomes part of the structure and is incorporated as part of the tomb. Ra had been displaced by Amon as the principal god before the time of Queen Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut’s tomb was set to be a garden of paradise for Amon. This garden was filled with Myrrh trees. This was to symbolize the queen’s commercial expedition into Somalia. The colonnade that lined the front of her tomb was set to mimic the trees in the garden. The stairs in the center of the columns rose above the trees in a symbolic gesture of rising above earthly accomplishments into heaven. The feminine aspects are being displayed by the open space between columns and the smaller size of the temple in comparison to the Pyramids of Giza.
4. Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb and the Parthenon are similar and contrast in different ways. Hatshepsut’s tomb has columns that represent linear trees and are equally spaced. The columns at the Parthenon display entasis are set to demonstrate monumental size. However both have colonnades meant to define the hierarchy of aedicule and the direction of movement through defined space. The stairs in Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb ascend above the columns to several flat plains. The Parthenon stairs ascend only to the level of the column footing. The Parthenon columns provide support for an elaborately decorated tympanum. The columns in Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb only provide support for a flat roof.

5. The lightweight quality of furniture is a display of the feminine characteristics. The feminine elegance is also captured in the curves presented in the furniture. A feeling of delicacy but with respect is evident. The Pyramids demonstrate a rigid masculine entity that towers above everyone. The furniture is submissive in holding the occupant. However the feminine aspect of furniture is the only gender worthy of holding a godly figure and his belongings.
6. The urns depict the male seated and the female as the servant. The male figure is holding a sword or ram’s horn resembling an urn. The Ram’s horn could resemble the harvest and the sword resembling the duty of protection. The female is tending to both. The male characteristics display strength and dominance. The act of tending to the possession is submissive to the fact that she does not possess it or have the means of possessing it; or the ability to act with the possession. On one urn, the male hands off the sword to the female to dispose of it properly. On the other urn the female is receiving from the ram’s horn. This displays the definition of roles within the Greek society. The male acts as the protector and supplier. The female acts as the servant.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Point: Theories

There are various ways to interpret architecture. Each way must have a foundation and reasoning to base the opinion. Throughout history mankind has used every resource available to construct habitable structures. These structures may vary in use and purpose but all impact the delight able response of the inhabitant. The period in time has great influence upon architecture. Specifically the resources available to the builder have influence. Before the industrial revolution living spaces were restricted and condensed. These issues were caused by a restraint in transportation. The builders had to use the resources within a limited space to construct the structure. These characteristics became the vernacular characteristics of different regions around the world. As time progressed and technology evolved high style became the modern goal of architecture. The symbolism of high style is that of hierarchy between social classes. The higher social class would design in the forefront to demonstrate greater wealth and power. This fact should be considered as a designer. To bridge the gap between high style and vernacular characteristics should be the goal of any designer with successful motivations. When contemplating on the design of a structure one should also consider firmness and the effect upon the inhabitant. The first concern should be the resident’s safety. Given this in mind an architect should change the visual perception of firmness into a pleasing delight. Structure can be shown and emphasized; or hidden and camouflaged. Either way must be in natural proportion to the aedicule. The definition of space is another defining characteristic on the perception of the inhabitant. Each aedicule must make architectural sense. They must be well balanced and join together functionality with a delight able experience. Each functional aedicule must transition into other spaces and work together as a unit with an intelligent momentum. This is the ideology of functional architecture. The linkage between high style and vernacular characteristics is that of useable space. If the parameters of an aedicule are defined by vernacular characteristics they can be expanded through high style. ADA standards, for example, make small livable spaces easier to traverse. The vernacular characteristics being those of limited space in certain areas then through high style the space becomes more accessible. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design also demonstrates this theory in the sustainable sites category. Traveling distance to frequented locations is of prime concern as efficiency has become the high style in the modern age. They also remain vernacular in that all material must be obtained within a 500 mile radius of the constructed site. Delight ability is still speculative as they also give credit for innovative design in the rating process. Overall this chapter has emphasized the importance of understanding the semiotics within every structures design cycle and those that have not yet been speculated. Architecture has many different interpretations and most of them are correct. It is the responsibility of the architect to guide the interpreter into the right deduction. All architecture can have double meaning but only the architect can mold the correct interpretation.

Clackamas High School in Oregon
LEED compliant interior