Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


St. Paul's Cathedral

During the renaissance, Europeans looked back to the classical Greek and Roman styles as the source for their buildings. After the baroque period, “Architects were turning increasingly to specific source models, in a wide variety of historical styles, resulting in revivals of Greek and Roman Classicalism.” (Roth 461) But that was only the beginning, and the cycle continued on to a gothic revival, which most of London was decorating in after the Great Fire of 1866. The Industrial Revolution had begun, and the new technology bred from this put cast iron and glass on the market, so most homes, not just churches, could incorporate the new gothicism.

The West had been borrowing Eastern designs for the past couple centuries through trade, especially with China. The Industrial Revolution allowed for faster transportation, therefore faster and more productive trade. However, China did not need anything the West had to offer, and usually traded goods for silver. The invention of the steamboat allowed the English to crush China in the Opium Wars, and began to barter more successfully with opium. In 1858 the Japanese had finally opened its trading gates to the west, illuminating Europeans on a new culture. They were especially impressed with the ukiyo-e woodblock prints, turning the artist's world upside down. Japonisme fascination continued, and is counted “among the inspirations of the first great design style of the twentieth century, Art Nouveau.” (Massey 29)

The age of imperialism was also the age of growth. Cities centered around coal mining and steel factories sprung up, and established cities thrived and more than doubled in size in a few decades. During this period "there were two conflicting strains of development: one of traditionalism, the other based on the felt need for reform and innovation" (Blakemore 393)
Some greeted this new Industrial Revolution and tried to push this new technology to its highest potential to mass produce synthetic products on the cheap. The more traditional side pleaded that these machines were impacting both people and architecture negatively, and started the arts and crafts movement. We often think of a "movement" as going forward, but this particular one called for us to rewind, that their was such a thing as going too far. But history teaches us movements always go in cycles, the most radical often followed by a very conservative. The world has its own way of making sure such reforms balance out.

Georgian Home

In America, wood was aplenty so the arts and crafts movement was much more applicable. Houses were often made out of all wood, and sparsely decorated in hall and parlor type houses. This was not necessarily all because of a disapproval of new factory-produced furniture, but because it was efficient. Before America had its freedom Britain would take wood for the colonies, ship it back overseas to England to finish it, and then ship it back to the Americas to sell, upping the cost significantly due to the cost of travel. However in the home country of the Industrial Revolution and the king of Imperialism, their was a rotation back to Gothic revival because “Gothic was an expression of a just and Christian society in contrast to nineteenth-century industrial society with its social ills” (Massey 9)

Royal Pavilion

In the Victorian era family and social strata was to the utmost importance. Your home was supposed to be a reflection of your family, thus termed 'portrait homes’, reflecting his beliefs that their design should not merely reflect the owner’s life-style but be his portrait.” (Massey 37) These houses were not sparsely decorated, but instead had artwork showcased off in every room. In today's world there are so many other things we look as to "reflect" ourselves because we've invented more stuff (i.e. cars, electronics, etc) Homes are more of an investment then a reflection.

We have entered the reflections unit of our theory + design class, and by looking backwards it is very apparent that throughout the major movements in history there are rotations in design. Innovative is often followed by classical, and vice versa. The Greeks and Romans are always a vital source, but as the years past the choices become more colorful and the rules become less clear, and sometimes completely passe. The Industrial Revolution and uncompromising Imperialism lead to the illumination of new technology and cultures, which both inspired designers and led them to question whether the classic rules of architecture are indeed the best ones.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Unit Summary: Alternatives

After the Roman Empire crumbled, the church was expected to pick up the chaos. The year 1000 was approaching and everyone thought the end of the world was near. Cathedrals tried to establish order through geometric details, and reminded its patrons about the oncoming judgment day through sculptural details of hell taking over the earth. Although the Roman empire was dying, it still was very influential in Christian architecture, the churches being described as "Romanesque".
But as the years crept by their was a lot of experimentation with structure, and even more so with surfaces. Their was an obsession with reaching heavenward through the height of a building, while creating as much light as possible through massive stained glassed windows. To support these buildings massive flying buttresses were attached for stability. These were the Gothic Style years, but each country had their own unique take on it. France, especially Normandy, had the most archetypal gothic style, and Germany played off this with subtle differences (often having one tower instead of two). England, being more isolated to the North, had its own distinct gothic style, its buildings often being more sprawling. Italy still clung to its Roman roots, and had a much more classical leaning, and also separated its church buildings. It is interesting that in a time referred to as the "dark ages," such innovative architecture that was light-filled, intrinsically detailed and taller than ever before.
Starting in the 1400s there were a lot of new discoveries. The printing press, America, the reformation all contributed to this idea of a "rebirth." The Renaissance was all about reviving the ancient world. The buildings were still here but none of the rules were written down, so during this era books and books were written detailing these Greek and Roman masterpieces. But imitating buildings can only entertain a designer for so long, and soon the best designers became the one that started to twist and even break these rules. Palladio was an incredibly influential designer who is famous for "using the sacred for the profane." His homes were very classical, but never before had the front of a temple been used on a private home. Interest in design began to move beyond the home and out into the yard. Houses were designed wide and one room wide to help control the landscape, and later elaborate, painfully planned gardens became customary to any mansion.
This push for expanding outside of the classical box led to the Baroque period. The Baroque period was all about creating drama through excess and light. From the smallest scale to an entire city, it was all about theatre. Through all the undulating stone carvings, movement was created, from the spanish steps to bernini's baldacchino. While the Renaissance was about rationality, the Baroque lavished on emotionality. These alternatives become the foundation of the revolutionary cycle of architecture. After a political or social reform, their will be a revival of the previous generations' style, "going out of the box" could mean back to basics or experimenting with something completely new.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Precedent Analysis Deliverables

10 Drawings

1. Floorplan with pencil on vellum at 1/8" scale
2. Isometric Plan of Interior Capsule with pencil on vellum at 1/4" scale
3. Perspective of Interior Capsule with pen and watercolor on bond at 1/4" scale
4. Section of north side with pencil on vellum at 1/8" scale
5. Section of west side with pencil on vellum at 1/8" scale
6. Elevation of south side with pencil on vellum at 1/8" scale
7. Elevation of east side with pencil on vellum at 1/8" scale
8. Exterior 2pt perspective with pen and watercolor on bond at 1/8" scale
9. Exterior 1pt perspective with pen on bond at 1/8" scale
10. Exterior 3pt perspective with pen on bond and at 1/8" scale


I. Introduction
a. design specifics of building
i. what makes it special?

II. Body
a. Metabolist movement
i. interchangable design ("organic growth")
ii. minimalist materials
iii. futuristic modular design

b. Design Flaws (the inevitable destruction)
i. rushed design process
ii. lack of upkeep and use of asbestos
iii. can the building be saved/should the building be saved?

c. Influence as prototype for sustainable development
i. capsules are manufactured offsite and can be replaced
ii. use of concrete and steel
iii. opportunities for helping in major third world cities

III. Conclusion
a. the future of modular buildings
i. buildings that can adapt to the environment vs. timeless buildings

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Precedent Analysis Building Selection + Justification v.2

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the Nakagin was built in 1972 in Tokyo, Japan. It was part of the metabolist movement that "realizes the ideas of metabolism, exchangeability, recycleablity as the prototype of sustainable architecture."(arcspace) These one man capsules (meant for busy businessmen) were made to be detachable and replaceable, and installed using only four high tension bolts. However, since the building has not had proper upkeep there is intense water damage and the capsule tower may be demolished. I chose this building because i think it is an unconventional step in the right direction. The idea of pre-assembled rooms using recycled materials is something that has not caught on in the western hemisphere, but may contain merits due to mass overpopulation in third world metropoli. We are running out of materials and space on this planet and as designers it is important to preserve as much of it as possible. Its tragic downfall is also a good example of "the greenest building is one that is already built."

P Week

Santa Maria Novella

the process of transitioning from the gothic world to the renaissance style of the rebirth of the classics varied throughout Europe. While France clung to the gothic world, Spain and Italy embraced the classics much more readily. England, being isolated on its own island faraway from the mediterranean also held onto gothic architecture, but with their own twist of the "country house." During this transition these classic "rules" of architecture that the great buildings of the greeks and romans embodied were written down. These architects "invented a term to describe their decisive break with the Gothic past, saying their work marked a renaissance, or rebirth.” (Roth 397)

Villa Rotunda

A level of professionalism was established, with the renaissance style focusing on geometry, order, and gestalt principals. A designer had to essentially learn to "bring things to rest" by balancing feminine and masculine properties. I wonder if they felt if they were starting from scratch, that architecture still had leaps and bounds ahead of it. The most famous designers were the ones that understood the rules and chose to push the boundaries, with “most of the palazzi and villas, the architects confidently devised a blend of ancient Roman architectural themes with local tradition” (Roth 376). Palladio was one of those designers, becoming popular for using the sacred for the profane.

Doges Palace

His portfolio is full of buildings that are timeless, because although he revives the ancient world, the rulebreaking is in the details. In today's world I think it's more difficult to be a designer because it seems all the rules have been broken. It is important for an artist/designer's portfolio to show how they stand out. For it is their job to exhaust the limits of the possible, and because of "their restless quest of innovation, these high Renaissance architects were not content to stop their manipulation of form once the rules had been defined.' (Roth 381)

After focusing on the home for so long, people began to conquer beyond the exterior of their homes and into the yards, and "this new awareness and appreciation of the natural landscape was one of the important contributions of the Renaissance” (Roth 356). The Farnese family took their city Palazzo one step further by buying the open space in the front to make their house look even more unattainable. In the country villas, landscape architecture became a prominent part of the estate. This even effected the shape of the villa, making it one room wide and long, using the building's periphery to control the architecture.

During the renaissance the surface got the most attention. From frescos and murals plastered on every open wall, to the intrinsic marquetry on the furniture. Paintings and furniture decoration was able to sore after the discovery of the perspective. Perspective was able to give a fluidity and third dimension to surface decoration that was impossible before, especially “in Baroque architecture and art, the line between three-dimensional reality and mystical illusion was increasingly blurred.”(Roth 404) Surface decoration was also obtained holistically on a city-wide level. In Venice, who made its fortune through selling glass and lace, had their architecture embody both of these products. This, (as well as being built on a swamp marsh) gives the city a genius loci--you can't take one thing away and it still be Venice.

The Renaissance's obsession with order lead to a new level of
professionalism. With the basic rules of architecture written down and followed, designers were to consort their quickly amassing portfolio to look at standardized ancient marvels from around the world. Then they were able to take that foundation and use their own perspective to improve upon the past. This process left the boundaries of their homelands, going beyond the periphery of classic stylings to follow their vision of reviving the ancients while making it their own.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

macro to micro

The composition of the church became pretty standard, with little cultural nuisances afflicted the cathedrals from country to country. All in the basilica form, "the Gothic cathedral was quickly standardized in its plan and basic components. There were, of course, distinctive regional variations...the cross-shaped plan was derived from Romanesque pilgrimage churches, with nave, side aisles, transept arms and crossing, and the chevet with ambulatory and radiating chapels enclosing a round-ended choir.” (Roth 333) Going back to the classical days, geometry and proportions became imperative in this buildings, with many cathedrals being built using the golden section. As the centuries moved on however, grappling with different ways to deal with these buildings extreme height changed the composition of the church.

The Greeks had pioneered the porch, court, and hearth on every scale in architecture. Present in each home to the layout of a city, this tradition is passed on to modern day architecture as well. The porch being perhaps a literal front porch or gateway, while the court being an open courtyard or the main gathering area/living room. The hearth is the most intimate setting, such as a kitchen or where the altar is. The Renaissance celebrated such a classical composition, and even “landscape architecture had been revived early in the fifteenth century as another manifestation of Classical civilization” (Roth 386).

In architecture you often need diagrams to see all the math that goes into these buildings. Watching the animated video unfold step by step the making of the Amiens Cathedral really helped understand the anatomy of the building. Architects during this period were really into geometry, looking back to Vitruvius's works. Vitruvius had used the human body as a diagram, because he thought the “ideal systems of proportion, he observed, can be found in the perfect proportions of the human body.” (Roth 359)

These massive cathedrals rise high above everything else in the city, leaving a lasting impression. These churches “stood for the Heavenly City of Jerusalem...and was a monument that seems to dwarf the man who enters it, for space, light, structure, and the plastic effects of masonry are organized to produce a visionary in the parts…and no standard relationship between solid and void" (Roth 301) The large stained glass windows, unbelievable height, and impressive sculptures were unlike anything else the public had seen. During the Renaissance they were obsessed with order, and in churches such as Brunelleschi’s Church of San Spirito in Florence, “the visitor would see a fully three-dimensional representation of a building as a constructed perspective, each architectural element assigned a precise place in a rationally ordered scheme.” (Roth 365)

These masterpieces were thought out to the very last detail. Every designer is a perfectionist, and even the smallest parts have are important to the buildings presence as a whole. These subtleties differentiate the Renaissance from the Classics, as "in every one of Michelangelo’s architectural designs, what appear at first to be standard classical architectural elements are in fact subtly manipulated in defiance to the conventions of Classical design, for Michelangelo was molding them as elements in gigantic sculpture” (Roth 382)

The composition of a building is most helpful seen through diagrams, since there was so much focus on the geometry of a building. Each building has its own definition of a court, porch, and hearth. But the details in the buildings really make them special, renowned artists were put to work sculpting and painting giant frescos to really make these buildings one of a kind. The Renaissance has had a lasting impression on this world, today still regarded as one of the most artistically expressive and engineering times in our history.