Wednesday, February 25, 2009


During medieval times, the Catholic Church ruled all, and was a constant presence in the lives of every European. To show their power, cathedrals had to be huge and extravagant, for "the Gothic church... stood for the Heavenly City of Jerusalem...and was a monument that seems to dwarf the man who enters it" (Roth 301) . Especially during gothic times, it was a race to see who could get the most height. The taller the building, the closer it was to heaven. The invention of the pendentive also helped create a more glorious presence inside the churches. By putting a dome on top of a groined vault, you could now structurally support windows for more light. Light, being the most important of all "delights," helps inspire awe and a deep sense of holiness to these massive cathedrals.

The precedent of every Western church is the basilica, because "the Christians required not only buildings that would accommodate large numbers of converts, but also enclosed spaces that would facilitate hearing the spoken word and chanted psalms." (Roth 279).. The basilica was designed by Romans originally as a law court, and later used in buildings that entertained large groups, such as public baths. Studying these cathedrals it is obvious "from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the end of the middle ages, two international styles of art had the greatest import for medieval western Europe: Romanesque and Gothic."(Blakemore 68) But Christianity was considered taboo when it first came on the scene, especially in the Romans' polygomous society. So Christians had to hide their worship services by gathering underground in the catacombs. Around the turn of the century churches were described as Romanesque because they had borrowed the use of arches, surface columns, and the idea of "telling stories" on the front of the building. Italian churches had an especially classical leaning being so close to Rome. But Rome was not the only place that cathedrals go their inspiration from. The use of the pendentive, the "greek cross," mosaics, and geometric patterns was borrowed from the architecture in the Roman Empire's new middle eastern capital, current day Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia is one of the finest and most thorough examples.

With the millennium approaching, the general consensus of the populous was the world was going to descend into hell. This belief is captured in small moments on the surface decoration of churches. Since illiteracy was rampant during these dark ages, most churches focused on the art of "visual literacy" instead of using words. These sculptures would show biblical stories, and often they were very grim, showing apocalyptic fantasies of demons and death. But the church itself was supposed to represent a physical moment of heaven on earth through “images of stylized reality, captured in the glittering mosaics, evoke a spiritual presence in an otherworldly atmosphere of resplended grandeur.” (Roth) Most churches had a series of affluent family-sponsored chapels (whose charity was inspired by indulgences) that each were ornately decorated as well.

Despite the name the "dark ages," medieval architecture was fond of incorporating a lot of light and experimenting with structure and surfaces. Deconstructing walls to make room for huge stained glass windows was both innovative and priority. Medieval cathedrals also show duality by incorporating the building styles of the east and west. Basing the archetype of the church off of the pagan roman basilica is also an interesting twist. And even the churches themselves are double sided because although the micro detail has a lot of movement, the buildings also represent solidity.

Baths of the Diocletian

The metric system was standard system the Greeks and Romans used to build all their great architecture. This system "was designed to serve the needs of the body in its pools and exercising gardens, to feed the mind in its libraries, and to reward the eye in its vast molded spaces." (Roth 275) The 32 acres of Baths of the Diocletian was dissected into 10 parts : baths, libraries, a gymnasium, etc...that brought people together as a whole.


although the precedent for the church was inspired by the Roman basilica, they borrow a lot from the East as well. The invention of the pendentive helps give the cathedral presence, since this new architectural design allows the installation of windows to allow massive light into the building. The cathedrals were built using the metric system, and using geometry to create perfect proportions within the basilica. Visual literacy was the way to go since most of the population could not read, and the cathedrals were decorated with elaborate mosaics and biblical stories. The Christian Church was supposed to represent a moment of heaven on earth, and the duality of heaven and earth was further played upon by trying to make the cathedrals touch as high in the sky as humanly possible. This was not only to reach the heavens, but to assert the power of the Church as the real ruling party in Europe.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Precedent Analysis Building Selection + Justification


Located in Prague, Czech Republic, the "Dancing House" was built between 1994 and 1996. Co-designed by Croatian-born Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry. The building is "an example of a deconstructivist architecture, with an unusual shape – you can actually see a couple – woman and man dancing together, holding their hands, with a skirt that sways to the music." (Dancing House) I chose this building as my subject because although it looks incredibly modern, It would be interesting to see if it's really as abstract as it seems, or does it hold a sneaking amount of classical ties. This building also was the subject of a lot of controversy, built to replace a neo-renaissance style house bombed in World War II, it contrasts sharply with the surrounding architecture. This building has also been under scrutiny of not being sound, with accusations of water leakage. I personally really like how the building breaks away from the background and establishes its own datum lines, and believe we should continue to push the limits of architecture and our imaginations of how a building should look while making sure it will last and serve the public for generations.

"Dancing House." 2008. 19 Feb 2009 .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The Romans were one of the largest empires in the world who "focused on the city as its basic constituent element." (Roth 247) The source of the entire Roman empire was the founding of one city, Rome, and this is what they kept closest to their hearts, and valued "a sense of the importance of matters at hand, a propensity for austerity conservatism, and a deep respect for duty and tradition." (Roth 249) Ever expanding, the Romans were ever on the lookout for enemy attacks from outside barbarians, and "military encampments in turn became the basis of countless town plans throughout the empire." (Roth 253) Built around the major cross roadway, the cities developed on a grid pattern structure, unlike the Greeks whose cities tended to be more organic. In drawing we sketched our T.A.s to have a source as well as a series of scale figures to look to when drawing people in our vignettes. We are also being assigned perspective drawings of the building we took thumbnails on, and found different artist perspective sources to make our own unique drawings.

The Romans picked and choosed what they liked about the cultures that they conquered, but were determined to make it their own. Out of all the civilizations they encountered across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, "two in particular were instrumental in shaping the arts of the Romans--the Etruscans and the Greeks." (Blakemore 45) The Romans looked to these prototypes to develop their own archetypes such because "the focus on urban life and civic activities required the development of new building types in Roman architecture, buildings that enclosed space for the use of the public." (Roth 255) They built the Colosseum, which was a new amphitheater built without using the surrounding environment, and used the greek columns not for post and lintel construction but merely as surface decoration, the Romans preferred to institute the arch. But the Pantheon can best sum up the archetype of Roman Architecture. Its hybrid corinthian columns, the only decorative side facing the street, the use of concrete to create these vast, magnificent dome. Unlike the Greeks the Romans weren't striving for architectural perfection, "the emphasis increasingly was on experimentation and on pushing stone and concrete to their structural and plastic limits." (Roth 271) Concrete was the number one choice and it was used in almost all their buildings, although often veneered in other materials.

Colosseum Orders

There were five orders of columns throughout time: Tuscan, Dorian, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. The columns go from simple to more complicated. The Tuscan was an Etruscan prototype, while the Corinthian and Composite are a later hybrid of the previous orders. The Romans also mixed orders, something the Greeks would never do. The Colosseum has Doric on the first floor, Ionic on the second, and Corinthian on the third to show a "passage of time."

The Greeks and Romans were heavily influenced by the things that surround them. The atmosphere of Greek architecture "can be described as sculptural masses set in balanced contrast to the landscape, Roman an architecture of space, enclosed internal space and outdoor space, on a grand scale" (Roth 247) Each city had a forum, a large open space surrounded by important buildings. These buildings always had the side facing the street much more highly decorated then the other three. The Romans built these opulent buildings for the public to distract them from the politics that were going on, for they held services open to everyone such as baths, combat matches, and theatre. The entourage of the city was of "free bread and circuses." Away from the city, the atmosphere was much different. Instead of things being out in the open, most villas were based around a courtyard, which would hide chores and servants to give the appearance that things went on effortlessly in their home. Due to this level of privacy, "the orientation of the domus was inward; few windows were incorporated on the first floor." (Blakemore 49) In our drawing classes we are now encompassing the entourage of the building we are assigned in our thumbnails to capture a moment, which was expanded on from learning to draw people moving naturally in their surroundings..

Because more time was spent inside, "the Romans gave far more attention to the interior than did the Greeks, whose architectural focus was the exterior, viewed as sculpture...concrete was also responsible for the alteration of interior spaces." (Blakemore 51) The inside of your home showed how much money and power you had, your hierarchy was determined by the level of extravagance in your home. Lavished in detail and expensive materials, "while the Greeks were concerned with refining types where form and proportion were of major import, the Romans focused on ostentatious display, often through extravagant ornamentation." (Blakemore 46) In drafting line weight is really important, the hierarchy of darkness shows what is closest and what is further away. Our thumbnails are a low rung in our series of drawings, we start with these small vague sketches and move up to large, detailed perspectives of our buildings.


The Greeks and Etruscans had perfected their prototypes of temples, amphitheaters, etc, into model archetypes. When the Romans came in and conquered these civilizations, they used these sources to mold what they saw the best of both worlds into their own unique hybrids. These hybrids focused on ornamentation, often mixing the greek orders and the entourage of amazing buildings were used to distract the public and show Roman power and hierarchy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moore Building Thumbnails

In front of an office, bookshelf with awards, staircase, overlooking front two story dome by stairs, classroom, front of building

back entrance, side view, breakroom, view outside front second story window, lounge room, fax/copy room

These thumbnails were easier to draw then i thought they'd be (things do look better when they're smaller and in pen) but i did have a lot of trouble drawing scale figures that small. A lot of them just turned out looking like stick people because i was thumbnailing from a good distance away to capture a "moment." I also used a lot of perspective drawing with a couple of these, which i wasn't expecting to encounter as much.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drink and Draw

I went to visit some friends in Boone this weekend and i drew at their house. It was a 21st birthday party, and while i was drawing was the next morning(afternoon) when everyone was chilling out. My friend even indulged in my watercolors while i was drawing them. Boone has some weird love affair with wood vineling, so a lot of browns! Two of them take place in the kitchen, and the other in the living room. I told them to ignore me while i was drawing them and everyone except Stephanie (the creepo in the sunglasses who just stared at me the whole time) went about their business. I have a habit of staring a lot at people so I don't feel very awkward drawing people.


These past couple weeks vignettes have been very popular in our classes. These short, descriptive scene are fleeting but give good insight into the artist's perspective. Architecture can be the same way. Buildings and furniture are a window into the artist/designer's perspective, marinated with information about their contemporary society. As mysterious as the past is "archaeological excavations have allowed researchers to develop a picture of a range of characteristics for interior architecture and decoration." (Blakemore 33)

We recently also made a section of Pat's Chair. Plans and Elevations can be deceiving so sections are popular in interior architecture to more intimately show a room or design. Researchers got to know Egyptian architecture "based on the sections of houses depicted...these representations disclose such features as spatial relationships, functional uses of spaces, interior architectural details, and decorative elements." (Blakemore 7) Our section of our 2x4 artifact room is shown as a section as well.

Shiho Nakaza

Scale represented a large portion of social hierarchy. For instance, Greek Temples were the most important, and also the biggest. Although entry was only allowed to the highest elite of Greek society, the insides were very ornate and in the case of the Parthenon, it was the symbol of the entire city. In drawing we researched different types of scale figures, since people are the ultimate judge of scale. While drawing people we are also learning foreshortening, which warps the scale of a person to make it more realistic, which dips into what the greeks grappled with, reality vs. ideal. Even though the Greeks were regarded as a democratic society, architecture is one of the many examples that shows differently.


The Greeks always expanded their boundaries, trying to set the ideal. The Parthenon was considered a perfect piece of architecture--or sculpture? Where is the boundary between architecture and sculpture? There is no real answer, but architecture tends to satisfy commodity, firmness and delight while sculpture only requires the latter two. Whichever it was, the Greeks strived hard for perfection because "the home of the goddess required the most excellent materials and the most exacting workmanship. It was done because the Greeks could do it." (Roth 240) Believing they were the center of the world and being one of the leading civilizations in the world, "much of this early philosophy was based on a priori assumptions rather than on observation of how things actually worked" (Roth 220) Some boundaries are more literal than others, our vignettes are pictures without defined boundaries, which in drafting boundaries are very strict.

Ancient Greece
Although the Greeks were city-states separated by rugged terrain, they had a sense of unity. In every society there are four concepts that "reveals the same influences reflected in other arts of the dynastic periods: religion, inspiration from familiar objects, technology (material and construction techniques), and social hierarchy." (Blakemore 13) Although all the cultures are express things differently, we can break down their influences the same. In every piece of Greek architecture there is a porch, court, and hearth. We have adopted deeply into western architecture as well, although the hearth may be a kitchen instead of inside of a temple in American Suburbia. One thing we can say about the Greeks from the Acropolis is that they "cared little for immortality on a spiritual plane, but rather, they sought to ensure their immortality in human memory, through their intellectual and artistic excellence." (Roth 243)


A vignette is a section without clear boundaries that is not necessarily always meaningful, but it is descriptive. While struggling with the real vs. ideal, the Greeks began to learn and push their boundaries to create what is in their eyes perfection for the gods. Through this they discovered their ideal archetype, which unified all buildings to have a hearth, court, and porch. This is used from the small scale of a single building, to a much larger group of buildings such as the Acropolis.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Five Scale Figure

Her pictures won't show up but:

The foundation of architecture relies on commodity, firmness, and delight. Humans first dwelings made of bone and animal skins have not stood the test of time, so it is hard to tell what utility they had for buildings besides shelter. But others have, like Stonehenge, and despite being surprisingly sophiscated still elude us on its purpose. Why do we still look at these buildings if they hold no meaning to us? We still look for answers because "architecture is shelter, but it is also symbol and a form of communication...the crystallization of ideas, a physical representation of human thought and aspiration, a record of the beliefs and values of the culture that produces it." (Roth 159) The Pyramids of Giza are 4,500 years old and besides being pilfered over the centuries, are considered one of the wonders of the world.Their commitment to Firmness shows that "the Egyptians valued bigness, mass, and solidity as the expression of duraility, a guarantee of unlimited security and indestructibility." (Roth 210) Because of the way religion was stressed into everyday life, every Egyptian's goal was to adher to the principal of "ma'at" which "combines aspects of truth, justice, order, stability, security, a cosmic order of harmony, a created and an inherited rightness." (Roth 192) This is also reflected in their building style, "the Egyptians never stepped back from the architectural object, never studied it reflectively as an abstract things, because, as E.B. Smith recognized, "they saw not the stone but the symbol." (Roth 210)

This semester we are working with a lot of new materials. Pat's chair is being made with chipboard, which is supposed to represent MDF (a cheap but sturdy wood, satisfies commodity and firmness but perhaps lacking on the delight). Suzanne is teaching us how to use watercolors as a medium in our drawings, which we practiced on drawings of our story artifact. In history and design we covered chapters that explore how architecture came to be and evolved from the materials in their environment. Ancient civilizations erected behomith stone post and lintel sites, towering pyramids and ziggurat temples...etc. Firmness was extremely valued and served as a form of delight, since "monumental architecture in stone was invented for more symbolic ritual structures" (Roth 168) during a time when religion was so tightly integrated into everyday life. As science progressed the Romans discovered concrete (and later reinforced concrete) which gave them more flexibility in the designs of their buildings, especially large buildings, with the help of the arch and dome.
Every society breeds their own original idioms, have stood the test of time but no longer make sense to us. Places like Stonehenge, Lascaux and the Egyptian hieroglyphics are idiomatic because their sense of commodity is lost--we are aware of their sacredness but are unsure of why. Each of our influential predecessors also developed their own sense of style (the Greeks with their columns, the Egyptians with their pyramids) Although Egypt seems very foreign to us it "is where Western architecture begins," (Roth 188) being the first to use the post and lintel system.

Several theories have been articulated to illuminate the purposes behind these mysterious buildings, for instance ancient pagan rituals were influenced heavily by astronomy, so Stonehenge is hypothesized to be some sort of sundial, or shoutout to whoever is watching in space. But for the most part buildings have shed light on what was important to the people that built them. The Pyramids at Giza built for the Pharoahs with all of their belongings and riches buried with them tells us a lot about their views on religion and outlook on life because "its greatest remnants are buildings dedicated to funerary practices, its pyramids serving as man-made mountains of burial, its temple lining the Nile with endless repritions of column after column, of court and chamber leading to yet more courts and chambers. It is an architecture of great mass and monotonous regularity." (Roth 188) These temples and tombs were so important because "things were never as good as they had been at the time of creation...that had been a golden age, where the gods inhabited the earth...the ideal world made at creation would reamin fixed for eternity as long as all the necessary ceremonies were correctly performed." (Roth 189-190)
In drafting we are learning to draw technically precise plans, elevations, and sections to illuminate our craft. In Perceptions and Communications the use of watercolors in our drawings are not only visually stimulated, but use light and color to illuminate the essence of our picture. We also built an artifact in studio pertaining to a Grimms' Fairytale to illuminate the essence of our story.

Previous cultures developed their own idiomatic styles through the help of breakthrough materials or lack thereof. Having limited materials forces you to be creative, and think of new alternatives to a project. Because Pat can only afford one piece of MDF board, creating a multipurpose desk/chair/workstation out of one sheet forces you to become efficient and the flimsiness of the wood requires sturdy craft. Being given the use of color through watercolors gives our opus a whole other dimension. But because many of these idioms are now missing commodity, firmness, or delight it is difficult to tell their story. Our clothing artifact for our grimms' fairytales had to make a statement, and embody these three disciplines. There are several clues left behind however that help illuminate these ancient buildings, and give us a clue to why someone wanted them to still be here today .

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fairytale Artifact

My Story was King Thrushbeard. The essence of the story was "things aren't always what they seem." I focused on the duality of that message making one side the royal king thrushbeard side and the other the basket weaving beggar he pretends to be.