Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading Comprehension 1

Architecture is the crystallization of ideas!

“Architecture is what nature cannot make” Louis Kahn. Architecture is the unavoidable art, it is everywhere! The need for shelter has given way to architecture. An Aedicule is the simplest form of architecture it refers to the posts and roof to create a simple shed. Yet, as often is the case, there is more than one meaning for one thing. Aedicule also means the imaginary boundaries created by space itself as a cocoon embrace personal space, which is so important in architecture. I have lately learned that the perspective of an individual approach when it comes to designing is so important. What do I mean by that? When designing a space or a building, I often thought of the occupancy as the number of people that would be allowed in that building at its maximum point, and that is correct! Yet again, there are two ways to look at things. Now I look at the aedicule space of each individual in order to design a space that will not violate the individual personal space. Often time’s architects and designers make the mistake of overlooking who you are really designing for, and we often design for the use, more than for the people that will use the space.

“A shelter in the form of Art, a blossoming in stone and a flowering of geometry”. Ralf Waldo Emerson. This is a very important statement because it places together the need and the beauty. Vitruvius quoted in his book On Architecture: “For the eye searches for beauty.” Our eyes are always searching for something that will bring delight to our soul. There are as many definitions of beauty, as there are stars in the sky. Yet we as designers are capable of offering beauty that also includes commodity and firmness. Architecture is often times inspired by nature itself. Since the beginning of time we can see a pattern of nature inspired details. For example the columns at the Temple of Amon were inspired by Lotus leaves from the shores of the Nile River. The Volutes on capital of a Doric column were inspired by graceful curls hanging down from the hair; they also decorated the folds in the robes traditionally worn by married women. “And how they created two columns, one which looked naked, undecorated and virile, the other characterized by feminine delicacy, decoration and modularity” Vetruvious.

“A Cultural instrument!” A. Louis I. Kahn. Culture plays a great role in how we view architecture. The way we were raised, the memories we have, the values that were engraved in our soul as we were growing up, will ultimately determine what we perceive as beautiful and relevant. Now what makes a building a shed or architecture is all in the details and the viewer’s opinion.

“The magnificent play of forms and light”. Le Corbusier. Architecture is not only making a building look good, it has a lot of other important factors to take into consideration. Light is one of the most important factors to consider. There have been endless accounts where the filtration of light determined the architecture chosen for the building. Also the light creates mood and can alter the overall feel of the ambiance created.

“Architecture is the chambered nautilus shell of human species; it is the environment we built for ourselves, and which, as we grow in experience and knowledge, we change and adapt to our expanded condition.” We are constantly changing as individuals, since the moment we are born we are forced to make decisions every day. We are constantly growing and expanding our views of the world as we know it. As we grow we leave behind a legacy of knowledge, of trial and errors, of dreams and discoveries, which will be the story told by generations to come. “Architecture is like a written history and literature, a record of people who produced it, and can be read in a comparable way. It is a nonverbal form of communication, a mute record of the culture that produced it” Life affairs, times and natural phenomenon will continue to occur, and as long as there are people in the world there will be new architecture to prove it. There will always be a story to tell, there will always be a opinion to give. There will be old inspirations, and new ideas. There will always be an opportunity to create something wonderful, whether it is understood in our lifetime or understood by the generations to come.

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Reading Comprehension 2

       A very important recollection of how Greek architectural elements are based on the idea of sacrifice was when Oneomaos, founder of Athens, beheaded his rivalries, and hung their heads over a door, displaying them as trophies, which transformed the murders into sacrifice.  The Greek culture is a warrior culture, a pagan culture, and by this sometimes the murder or the murderers were considered to be god sent or acts of divinity.  Greek architecture is indeed inspired by nature itself.  Garlands, statues, the similarity of shape from a tree to a column.  The rosettes resembling flowers.  The sacrificial stories of blood, love, and war depicted on the pediment and walls of the building are a true account of a bloody and sacrificial culture.  Vitruvious himself, even based building proportions upon the proportions of the human body.  And I quote, “For nature so designed the human body that, with regards to the head, the face from the chin to the top of the forehead, and the lowest roots of the hair is a tenth.  The palm of the hand, from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is the same, etc…”  Buildings were carefully drafted with the mentality of man as the measure and measurer of all things.   

     The story of Macaulay was fascinating, it was very humorous, and the artful sketches were simply fabulous. It was amazing how the human mind tries so hard to bring a sacred meaning to a simple everyday object, and how you can create a whole world of fantasy and make it sound so smart and real.  By using a coherent story theme and a strong manipulation of words Macaulay was able to bring strong sense of reality to an unreal truth.   Having said that, it made me think of what history really is, how we make history, and how much of history is really true.   My mother always said “everybody is right in their own opinion,” opinions are simply opinions, if we have no concrete bases to back it up.  After hearing the controversy that arouse last week, about a pastor who was making strong remarks about Muslims.  After getting in trouble with the law, he was asked what he based his opinion on, or what the source of his knowledge was.  He proudly admitted that his only source was the internet.  Wow, I thought! Completely speechless and still in shock, I realized that the internet has become one of the most trusted sources for millions of people.  Now the scary thing is that there is no way to know if the person that wrote the article, and posted it on line, even knew what he was talking about or if he used any reliable sources.  I think the internet is a great thing, but I am old fashioned in every way! I prefer walking down the cobble stone road, along the tall trees with the leaves changing colors, among the old priceless architecture, to the library, and bury myself in books filled with proven knowledge, that have withstood the test of time.  After all, our parents did it, and it worked for them, and as they said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  The internet is a great quick fix and has even united nations and kept friends together from completely different continents, is still just one source.  My father is also a pastor and he always told me that you have to have at least three sources even is the main source is your heart. 

     One reason why Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb was built against a cliff was because of the robbery and theft that was happening at the other tombs.  They wanted to create something that would be stronger, and hidden away from the public.  Another reason could be, since Queen Hatshepsut liked to travel, she brought with her different building ideas of details she could have seen during her travels, and wanted to incorporate them into her tomb, or gateway to her afterlife.  Another idea could be, that she wanted to create an earthly paradise with a garden because she enjoyed the outdoors.  She was especially aware of her surroundings, of the beauty of nature, and that is why she designed the columns to resemble the verticality of the lines on the cliff side.  She also wanted to take with her the beauty of the trees and flowers along the Nile.  Maybe she wanted to make a statement that in fact women are different than men, that we see the world with different eyes, that our interest are different, and we see little details that men may fail to see.

Greek Doric Order detail for contrast
 4.  Egypt – Hypostle Hall – Temple of Armon-Ra, at Karnak.  -  Egypt was a fundamentally spiritual culture.  They experienced spirituality by controlling light.  It was also acquired by axial progression.  The massive scale and monumentality of the stone gave a feel of greatness.  The carvings told the story of a hierarchical society, destined to becoming immortal and eternal.  Just as life renews itself along the Nile banks, so was going to be the greatness of the Egyptian culture.  The detail that I will focus on is columns.  The columns in this temple were tall.  The base was flush to the ground; colorful hieroglyphics covered the surface of the columns to tell the story.  They were perfectly aligned, and spaced in axial progression.  The abacus was undecorated, yet the cavetto was highly decorated.  The capital resembled a lotus bud, and in some instances a lotus flower.  Some of the shafts had convex channels, and as I said before some were covered in hieroglyphics. 

Egyptian Column detail for contrast
     Greece – The Parthenon, The Acropolis, Athens - Without a doubt, the greatest building ever built.  The Greek polytheist culture yet they believed in women goddess’ as much as male gods.  They set up temples for the immortal Gods there.  They began to build sanctuaries to house their gods, and forever told the story of their great mythology.  The system of proportion, the harmony, and the order of simple Doric columns with no base emphasize the high post and lintel construction.  The perfect proportion of columns to the entablature.  It was also done in axial progression with the statue of Athena as the focal point in culmination to a great spiritual journey.  The pediment told the story in relief sculpture, with great amounts of color.  Just as in the Temple of Amon the Greek culture wanted to immortalize their story, and the greatness of their culture on Architecture.  The frieze of the Parthenon can be compared to the Cavetto molding of the Egyptian columns structure.  It had elaborate decoration with great color, also to depict a story to future generations.  They also utilized stone as their main building material as a symbol of strength and power.  The scale is great, just as in the Temple of Amon to emphasize the greatness of the gods and the smallness of man.   

  I believe the Egyptian culture based their lives in the renewal of life itself, as they saw happening time and time again along the Nile River banks.  For the construction of their pyramids, they wanted to make something so strong that it would last until the next life.  So adorn with hieroglyphics to tell the story of great generations past.  They also wanted to make a point of how great their culture was.  Of how strong men were, or how much better men were than women, animals, and everything around them.  Well, here comes my hypothesis.  Fasten your seatbelts, because we are going to take a ride on the wild side.  The Egyptians made their furnishings so lightweight with curvilinear gentle lines just because the Pharaoh knew the life was pointless without women.  So just in case, when they came back in the afterlife, and since they were so much more superior than women, and the women did not make the cut to the next life, they had something to remember them by.  To dream of their gentle lines, to think about the gentle way the waist meets the hip, and runs down the leg as the legs on a chair.  Since we are hypothesizing anyway, they knew their so loved pets would not make the afterlife cut either, so they sculpted their heads and their legs to forever have them at their feet, within arm’s length even in the afterlife. 

Women were highly valued in the Greek society ,  in my opinion .  In fact a lot of the gods are female.  In the first picture the female takes the role of  a warrior carrying a shield  in her left hand , and acquiring a sword from a male.  The male figure in this society is always higher and more predominant; he is the measure, and the measurer of all things.  In him is perfection and beauty, protection and strength.  Men  rule over all, women, animals, and architecture.  Everything there is, is to exalt the godly image of man.  In the second urn the woman is depicted as a servant to man.  Also as a companion and a show piece,  a display of beauty behind a master.  As is our nature as mothers, daughters and wives we serve others, and we are glad to do so.  As a recall of history facts, the social classes applied to men only, as women all took their social and legal status from their husband or their male partner. Women in ancient Greece were not permitted to take part in public life.  But yet the main building in the Acropolis was the Parthenon a Temple designed for a woman goddess, Athena.

Original art by Jasmine Collins