13 February 2009

and onto rome

as we concluded class this week, we had made our way in the FOUNDATIONS unit and learned that rome, in terms of architecture and design speaks a language of SURFACE on an innovative system of STRUCTURE made possible by the use of CONCRETE. as we contemplated two specific buildings (the coloseum and the pantheon), it occurred to me the importance of thinking about the impact of these buildings in the city in which they sat. rome, as the seat of the roman empire, received the largest of the public buildings built in the republic, among them the coloseum. so in terms of SCALE, this large structure suggests that SIZE does indeed matter. as a roman citizen, to see the interior of the sumptuous pantheon with its seven altars and its incredibly rich surface decoration must have been an amazing treat, in light of the fact that not many buildings were quite so public nor quite so opulent. in this instance, the SURFACE treatment reifies the COSMOLOGY of rome in physical form, making the concept of the universe a physical one, re-SCALED to the roman landscape in the city. alongside this more lofty exercise, you learned about the base motivations for some emporers and leaders in roman society in both triumphal columns + arches...a subject ripe with gendered and sexual overtones. look for wu-wus...they ARE all around you.

11 February 2009

atop the acropolis

the collection of buildings at the acme of the athenian landscape suggest the quest for perfection by the greeks...in the development of the parthenon itself as an idealized building, and in the population of the acropolis with other buildings less perfect than the ideal -- the pastiche of the erecthion, the turning the grecian temple inside out at the propylaia, and the diminutive scale of the temple to athena nike. all four of these buildings speak in loud volume about the idea of PROTOTYPE : ARCHETYPE : HYBRID in architecture and design. as you consider buildings in the current landscape or artifacts within interiors, speculate about how each might represent a PROTOYPE based on an ARCHETYPE...or if perhaps the building or artifact captures a snapshot of the design process concretized into physical form as a HYBRID. also consider the importance of language, both architectural and written, in bringing shape to these ideas.

proto- : first in time, earliest
arche- : an ideal
-type : classified artifact or building
hybrid : containing mixed elements or different languages
akros : highest
polis : city

if the acropolis is the HIGHEST CITY and contains the ARCHETYPE as well as significant PROTOTYPES and HYBRIDS, what is the implication for the rest of greece in emulating these works....or perhaps ignoring them?

08 February 2009

greece : landscape

i find the relationship between building and landscape to be the chief difference between early greek structures and the previous architecture we have studied in egypt + mesopotamia. it seems that the greeks understood the foil a building provided to the mountainous landscape of the peninsula. by contrast, the light colored buildings of stone stood out against the verdant land around. in this way, the designers and builders of the many temples of greece understood the power of an interlocking relationship between their buildings + the environment.


Inner Court : Palace, Phylos, ca. 1400-1300BC


Temple Court : Palace of Knossos, Crete, ca.1700-1400 BC


Lion's Gate, The Citadel at Mycenae, ca. 1400-1200BC

06 February 2009

continuity : change

this week, we explored the embryos of many building building forms and elements that resulted from egyptian as well as minoan and mycenean architecture and design: post and lintel construction [columns], the megaron [porch : court : hearth], the tympanum [triangular panel above a lintel]; and the stool [the most common of furniture forms in egypt]. because all of these forms and elements are with us today, it's clear that we can trace their lineage back in time...what's not yet clear is the continuities and changes that those very forms represent as we move from greece, to rome, and the other "ancient" civilizations, and then on to medieval, renaissance, and modern time periods and expressions. using these embryos as rulers or guidelines for our study, then, seems most appropriate as we continue to uncover ideologies embedded within artifacts, spaces, buildings, and places this semester.