Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Making your place in the world through Architecture, graphic information tells a story on the surface.  As we travel through time, depicted in the Architectural buildings who tell a story of great milestones in classic details that influence the world as we know it.  We look back to the city of the Gods, Teotihuacan, where we studied the sun temple, which represents life, and the moon temple, which represents death.  Teotihuacan is a very large archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico.  It contains some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous murals.  In both of the temples we can see the pilgrimage as a long ascending stair to the top, which represents being on top of the world. 

We also studied the Ohio Valley burial site, known as the Great Serpent Mound.  The Great Serpent Mound is a 1330 foot long, three foot high Effigy Mound.  It is located along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio.  The snake was believed to be the protector of mankind, and this Effigy creates a passageway or a hedge between the living and the dead. 

We also studied the Kofun Mountains in Japan, and the burial mountains.  The Kofun tombs, or Tumuli, were constructed between the early third and the early seventh century.  Most of the Kofun have a keyhole shape.  These structures depict the similarities and differences between men and women.  Men being higher, and women being lower.  One very important of the eastern culture’s Architecture is that when a building wears out they replace the parts with identical materials to preserve the building as close as possible to its original condition.  Contrast to the western culture, if a building wears out they will not replace the parts, we will replace the building. 

The Egyptian culture based its beliefs in the renewal of life, just as life renewed itself along the banks of the Nile River.  The crops would harvest, and the whole circle of life and death brought a new idea that mankind, just as plants along the river, will too renew itself and come back in the afterlife.  Inspired by this belief, the Pharaohs spent their lives planning their burial chambers as comfortable and luxurious as they could to make the transition between life and death more comfortable.  We now know these burial chambers as the great pyramids which are covered by hieroglyphics, which entail the longevity, and the stories that are told by pictures.  This is the first recollection of writings as a detail.  The pyramids were constructed in a stacking system, using local materials, very intense physical work, with the aspirations to reach to the heavens.  The horizontal lines inscribed the pathway for men to travel, while the vertical lines inscribed the pathway between man and God.  The gold tip of the pyramid was perhaps designed for when the light hits the top it will reflect the light down the limestone, and out to the four corners of the world.

  As we embark our way to Greece, a water oriented culture surrounded by mountains and trees.  We are faced with the real versus the ideal.  We find a culture so full of life and greatness with a deep sense of Religion, and therefore created beautiful architectural monuments as a tribute to their gods.  We find the Dorian, and the Ionians, and the Aeolian cultures, which are the birth places of the great Greek orders.  The Dorian column, the Ionic column, and the Corinthian column each have a deep cultural meaning, and significance.  We also began to see the megaron as a space for worship which is started by three walls surrounding a row of columns that eventually evolved into three walls surrounded by columns with a single row of columns in the inside that developed into the temple order that we know now, with three walls surrounded by columns with a double row of columns inside, creating a porch, a court, and a heart with the god statue being the center of the heart.   As we studied the lion gate at Mycenae, we see a very peculiar detail of a Tempanom or what appears to be a column detail.  As we study the acropolis, and we walk the Propyla of the entrance to the acropolis to our right we are immediately faced with the most perfect building ever built.  Just to our left we are faced with the Erechtheion with its Porch of Maidens depicting slaved women forever in shame facing the Parthenon which is in fact the most important Greek temple, exalting also a female, but this time a female god, Athena, the god of war.  The Agora was the gathering place outside the Acropolis, where one could find the news of the day, and we are left with the thought of the Acropolis being the center, where the rules are made, and the surrounding edges are where the rules are broken.

We now move to Rome, where the revival and the melting pot took place.  Rome is an extravagant pleasure, modern city with a look forward civilization.  Horizontal expression rather than vertical just as the empire expanded to its surrounding areas, so did their architecture.  They lived among Greek ruins which they managed to make even better to add that extra level of detail and interest through a simulation and adaptation.  Their major milestones can be pinpointed to concrete and arches which they expanded into walls, which was technological breakthrough.  They are very famous, and they left their mark in the greatness of the Baths of Caracadas, made possible by the ever so famous aqueducts, and we cannot leave out the ever so famous basilicas.  The coliseum which represents Roman entertainment, and the temples which are Greek based frontal oriented, imbedded columns, and frontal steps are the foundations of many important buildings of today.  My favorite classic detail developed by the Romans is the Constantine arch, which tells a story, a memorial.  When we think of Rome, we think of the Pantheon and its dome, an arch spinning its axis across the seven gods.  It is a circle within a square, or god within man.  What else can I say, all roads lead to Rome.  The city grid is impressive, and it is also very important remnants of the steady presence of the Roman Empire.  I shall end this with the wu-wu, or tall male oriented points with vertical lines to guide our eyes, and tell the world who is the boss.  Romans like to build bigger and better, and the trajans column of aurelius is the perfect example that size does matter.

Egypt, Greece and Rome Summery

Artifact: The amount of details express in the gerogliphics are fascinating.  The execution of the craftsmanship is incredible. 
Space:  the perfect layout of the building to provide a spiritual experience is priceless and timeless.
Place: Egypt takes its inspiration from the renewal of life along the Nile River.  This brings a sense of renovation and immortality to the architecture.
Artifact:  the innovation of a new passionate culture is reflected in the carvings or sculptural relieves along the entablature of the buildings.  The attention to detail is in my opinion what separate this culture from the others and sets an example for the generations to come.
Place:  the buildings on ancient Greece are simply the epitome of perfection!  The thorough careful planning of every detail, from proportion to balance, to optical illusions to create perfection.  Is absolutely imprecise!  
Place:  the inspiration of a very historical society the closeness to nature and the sea.  Brings the buildings to life, in the sense that they are like a beautiful ornamental mirror that reflects their surrounding and makes the landscape better. 
Artifact:  Rome is such a historical society.  They took direct inspiration from Greece and make what was good even better.  The attention to details was impressive.  The classic vocabulary is eminent though out the city.  The new materials implemented granted the ability to create greater monuments of classic architecture. 
Place:  “All roads lead to Rome”   distribution of the city grid allowed the buildings in Rome to concentrate their efforts inward and create greatness inside.  The closeness of the buildings made of a wonderful passageway to admire the architectural marbles of the time. Almost like a pilgrimage of beautiful buildings.