"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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading Comprehension 5

1. The reformation of the Victorian middle class was inspired by the “desire to express comfort and wealth” (Massey p.8). AWN Pugin was a writer and critique who led the revival of the gothic style. His writings connected the purity of religion to the quality of architecture. Architect William Burges created the Gothic revival structures Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch in Cardiff Wales by using the principles set forth in Pugin’s writing. The ceilings and walls were hand painted and carved, a principle displayed in the writings of John Ruskin in The Seven Lamps of Architecture. “He warned against the common practice of making one material look like another and the effort to create a new style when gothic could not be surpassed” (Massey p.10). This refers to the Rococo movement and the emphasis on stucco plastering forms. Ruskin also took a great critique in mass produced machine made furniture. “For Ruskin moral virtue and such new furniture were incompatible” (Massey, p.10). Ruskin also compared mass produced furniture to adultery.

Castell Coch
The English Architect William Morris took a purest, Free from adulterants or impurities”, , approach towards machine made arts and crafts. This thought came about from the corruption of artifacts by the machine so that their use became obsolete and distorted from classical forms. Morris’ approach was that medieval vernacular forms were pure due to the fact that they had been constructed by hand and “by workmen who took joy in their work” (Roth p.493).  Phillip Web with William Morris designed a house in Bexleyheath that would become the foundation of the arts and crafts movement in England. The house was composed of red brick with a steep sloping roof. The general form of the house is taken from historical gothic architecture. The garden was of specific interest in the design process as it was meant to wrap around the house and connect the form with the landscape. The interior was simple with emphasis on purpose, “designed to facilitate use and handmade with emphasis on making evident the constructive process” (Roth p.493). Morris was also a Marxist having taken a similar approach to working class rights and purity of labor as Karl Marx did in his writings. This thought carried across the English Channel to the German Writer Hemann Muethesius who was a key founder in the Deutsher Werkbund, the German Worker Federation, of unionized labor.
The Red House

Frank Lloyd Wright adapted Morris’s design philosophy in the purity of form and influence. However Wright’s perspective was, “embracing the machine to facilitate production” (Roth p.495). Frank Lloyd Wright was the founder of the American Arts and Crafts movement. He realized the importance of the machine and the evolution of architecture, “the architecture of the future would of necessity be built of machine-formed elements” (Roth p.495). Wright took the concept of unity in design form to construct his delight. “All parts of the house had to germinate from a single design idea” (Roth, p.496).  Gothic architecture emphasized the vertical line for illuminative clarity and transparency. Wright’s perspective was to emphasize the stacking horizontal line to mimic the rising landscape. However Wright used an axes strategy, similar to Gothic cathedrals, in the Ward Willits house where the four wings expanded outward from a central chimney much like the transept branching in gothic cathedrals. Wright integrated long stretching lines of decoration on the ceilings and walls. This is a form of entasis adapted from Greek principles to direct the movement of the eye and form the illusion of continuous balanced space.
Ward Willits house floor plan

2. “The house is a machine for living in”, ((Le Corbusier) Roth p.530). Le Corbusier used machines such as the automobile or airplane as examples to modern function and purpose. His theory was that the house had functional parts such as living, dinning and kitchen units. He purposed that once functionality had been perfected that the form would automatically arise as a result. My opinion differs from this. In the Citrohan house functionality overwhelms aesthetics in that all that is viewable is a rectangular box. So the debate is set forth of which is more important aesthetics or functionality. The overall point of architectural functionality is to program the inhabitant to operate with an easy momentum. Aesthetics is delight. Without aesthetics the persona imbibed by straight functionality is mechanical robotics operating with no enjoyment. Humanity becomes functionality for only purpose. When applied to a whole the connection is evident to the Marxist social machine that operates for the better of the mother nation. The Citrohan House was to be lined in multiples and acts aesthetically pleasing to the whole of the city. Useless in my opinion; as the whole of the city cannot operate at a single social level as then there would be no sense of individualism and with that no more change or revolutionary architecture. Le Corbusier knew this, “It is a question of building which is at the root of social unrest today: architecture or revolution.” (Roth p. 530).  This is also the theme of equality within the Marxist movement. Homeostasis is impossible within society as it is human nature to want more. This principle is demonstrated in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological pyramid of self satisfaction. Marx understood this as it was the motivation for the formation of the communist party.
The Citrohan House

The application of Aesthetics without functionality is only enjoyment to better the delight. The less is more principle is very applicable within aesthetics. However I don’t believe Le Corbusier had the same interpretation as I. “Using standardized factory architecture components, would be as easy to build as low-priced automobiles and similarly, available to everyone” (Roth on Le Corbusier.. p.530). Using this principle aesthetically would cause a delight of simplicity and organization. This leads to an addition of complicated space to be delighted upon with geometric simplicity. Functionality becomes second to aesthetics as the enjoyment of the motion through space provides a pleasing delight. Every moment enjoyed and life is fulfilled as each day becomes the most it can be. Functionality with balance of shape and proper geometrical flow becomes organic architecture.
3. “Architecture expresses the attitude to life of an Epoch” ((Heinrich Wolfflin) Roth p.519).
David B. Gamble House (Massey p. 21)


  1. I accidentally did reading comp. 6 instead of 5.

  2. jon....this is nice work, and it's early.

  3. i agree with what i posted earlier...strong writing and use of images. well done.