Without doubt. Although it was not possible for us to visit the Louvre in Paris, it would have been very useful to have done so. From a phenomenological perspective, there is no better way to understand a place than to go there. There is only so much that can be obtained from looking at pictures, reading, and imagining the place.
The critical thinking used in the patchwork essay has come into use quite often. The skills have been most useful in setting up my research and understandings in my other modules, especially the Design Studio module.
Academic writing shown me, above all, the importance of giving credit to others. If an idea belongs to another then it must be credited to them. The concept of intellectual property is the biggest part of academic writing that I have taken away. I understand the relevance of such writing and the risks of plagiarism are high if referencing is incorrectly done.
Research is an invaluable tool for a design project, or indeed any project. Looking back at history is a useful tool when designing for the present and future. This said, to design something completely new and different can sometimes require an ignorance of the past in order to avoid influence. Looking at history does not only mean looking at prior examples of architecture though. Looking at the past in other ways is also remarkably useful and I will be using my research skills to both begin and further my design processes in all projects.
What kind of museum is it?
In response to this, I went to the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery. This is a relatively new built museum/ gallery which has been built on an old, historic site.
Has the architect tried to introduce specific phenomenological aspects?
The interior of the building does not possess much in the way of architectural experience. There are some interesting features in the roof, but nothing which I would say were capable of causing an experience of their own.
However, the exterior of the building is a different story. The design is based on inspirations from the use of warehouses for artistic use, the outside is very industrial and irregular. Not only does the design use all the available space of the site, it also echoes back to a more industrial era for Nottingham. Further more, the outside panel were precast with a lace pattern as a direct reference to the city's lace market history. This, and more, all provides a small walk through the history of the site, and also provides something tangible for visitors to experience.
How does the furniture/ exhibits work from the point of view of ergonomics?
The exhibits are all positioned on walls, there are also partition walls which can be moved to provide extra space or cut off areas. Furniture is kept to a minimum but is present. The furniture is quite low and so does not provide the best viewing angles for the standing height that the majority of work is hung at, but the positioning of the furniture does provide a clear view of the majority of the artwork.
How about the circulation, is it clear, or is it more of a labyrinth?
The circulation of The Nottingham Contemporary is interesting. It is split into three gallery spaces, one of which has a partition wall. I do not however, feel that it works especially well. There is not a natural flow from the first space to the next, only from the second to the third. The arrangement of the rooms feels slightly awkward in layout.
Think about the design: is it a well organised museum, can you identify any design waste?
Structurally, the building has been made very well, particularly on the outside I feel that the design is very impressive. It could be argued that the materials used could have been less heavyweight, less materials could have been used if a different material type had been used, but the reasons for using the materials they used are justified by their concepts. Inside the gallery the layout feels more wasteful. If the gallery flowed better and was shuffled around slightly then the less space could have been wasted and meant that more art could be fitted in. Alternatively they could use any extra space gained for other means.
How does the gallery work with it's context?
The gallery really comes into it's own with the context. It is clear that the designers (Caruso St John) were very thorough with their research into the context of the site. They have created a piece of architecture which responds not only to the city, but also to it's history through references both bold and subtle.
What is the main problem Le Corbusier has encountered when introducing mass-produced housing?
The biggest problem was that it did not already exist. There were no set tools or methods for creating mass produced housing. There were no set guide lines. Le Corbusier had to start from scratch and equip the world for the mass production of houses.
How does Le Corbusier want to replace natural/ traditional materials in architecture?
Le Corbusier discusses 'old-world' natural building materials as being essentially risky and prone to waste. They can be temperamental, timber splitting under changes in temperature for example. He proposes replacing such materials with artificial ones which have been "proved in the laboratory". He favours the exact calculations of such artificial materials resulting in strong, precise and less wasteful buildings which are also ultimately less risky.
Do you agree with the statement: "A house will no longer be this solidity-built thing which sets out to defy time and decay, and which is an expensive luxury by which wealth can be shown; it will be a tool as the motor-car is becoming a tool."
I agree in part with the quote, but disagree elsewhere. The section about the house becoming a tool is something which I agree with. I think that in the modern day world, not every house is considered a home. As such, they can be seen as tools in which to live, a place to function, eat, sleep, even work. However what I disagree with is that houses will be less solidly built. It is true that we are moving away from heavy construction methods such as dense masonry structures towards lighter construction methods of glass and steel. Yet this does not mean that the buildings are any less secure or prone to decay. In fact, in some cases these lightweight structures may be able to stand for longer.
What is the Masion Citrohan?
It is a house designed around Le Corbusier's concept for creating a house as a machine for living in, it is made to be a tool for the inhabitants. The Masion Citrohan is designed precisely using artificial materials in specific dimensions to make maximum use of space and function.
Have a look at Le Corbusier's plan for a University Quarter. What do you think of his approach?
His approach to provide every student with the same level of living is an ideal one. He wants to give everyone a certain set of requirements, everyone should have good light, a warm living space and a place to look out of. He also thinks that every student desires self containment, they want to be able to have their own space. However he also plans for everyone to be able to interact with one another with ease. I think that his plan for this works well, it achieves it's goals well.
Le Corbusier identifies Architectural Schools as collaborators in the process of creating new architecture. Do you think that role has been/ can be achieved?
I do. Architecture is an art form as well as a science. Art is an ever changing trend which develops over time. Likewise, scientific discoveries are always being made. As such, architecture is always changing and advancing. Schools of architects are the studiers of this change and advancement. Furthermore they are often the creators of it. With so many minds exploring together there are usually discoveries to be made. However, architecture schools are not the only place in which architects learn. I do not believe that we ever stop learning, wherever there are architects, new architecture can be made.
Le Corbusier, (2008), Towards A New Architecture,
According to Salmon, where did most of the British architects go to study in Europe?
Salmon says that "almost every architect of note went to study in Rome".
Which Italian architect influenced British students through his approach to Roman ruins?
Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
What is the meaning of 'historiography'?
'Historiography' is "the study of the writing of history and of written histories."
According to Salmon, ancient Rome was a source of inspiration for the architects of the 19th Century since it was possible to draw so many analogies between these cultures. Do you agree with this statement?
I do agree. Ancient Rome and the architecture from it are inspirational. There is a great deal of well designed structures, not just aesthetically, but also structurally. The fact that the structures are still standing, despite so much, is testament to their impressive design, and their aesthetics are unquestionably beautiful. The buildings do more than this though. They tell stories about the past and about the ancient cultures. In this respect they act almost as a document which the architects could read and observe and understand to take forward into their own designs. There would have been no better way to do this than going to Rome, and there still isn't.
Salmon also explains how at some point these comparisons became simple pastiches or copies of Roman architecture. What is your opinion about using the past as inspiration in such a literal way?
I feel that taking inspiration to inform designs is perfectly acceptable. However, I feel that copying/ imitating work is not. I feel that to copy directly is to be unoriginal, uninspired and unimaginative. To a degree, whilst potentially complimentary to the original, it can also be considered disrespectful since the original has had so much thought and research and design put into it. The pastiche can be seen as simply taking other people's work and presenting it as your own.
Draw 4 details of Arkwright building showing the use of different materials and historical influences.
Research the Arkwright building: who built it? When? To what purpose? How about the new renovation? Has it changed the building or has it tried to keep it in it's original state?
Built between 1877-81, the Arkwright building is of Gothic design. It was built by Lockwood and Mawson of Bradford to be the house University College Nottingham, along with the city library and natural history museum. The building suffered bomb damage in the Second World War but has been restored remarkably well to preserve both the exterior and the interior of the building. The Arkwright building is listed and as such is not allowed to be altered beyond a certain degree. The renovation of the building respected this and the building has remained more or less the same as the original plans suggest. The biggest changes come from the joining of the building to the Newton building.
Salmon, Frank, (2000), Building On Ruins: The Rediscovery Of Rome And English Architecture,
Villa Adriana is found in Tivoli, just outside of Rome. It was built under the direction of the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a vision of the 'ideal city'. Part of it is pictures in the photo below.
The villa is large, covering an area of more than 120 hectares. It is built on the slopes of the Tiburtine Hills, travelling along several layers of topography. It was a position of power and as such the height it was built at was a key component. During Hadrian's reign, Villa Adriana became his favoured Royal Residence and soon it resulted in the main symbol of power becoming distant from Rome.
After Hadrian's death in 138AD, power shifted back into Rome as Hadrian's successors favoured the city as their residence. The Villa continued to be worked on and enlarged during this time. However, later in it's life, the Villa became the focus of barbarian invaders and was plundered. Having fallen into neglect the Villa became a source of work as a quarry for builders.
The Villa is a complex of buildings. Although there is no planned layout for the area, there are 4 groups in which different buildings are placed.
One of the significant aspects about the Villa Adriana is that despite all of this, it has still been a great influence on architects through the ages. Because of the mix of heritages that have been used in it (Eygpt, Greece and Rome), there are many classical elements to look back at for inspiration, especially since they are all in one place.
What do you think about Unwin's assertion: "Some argue that if geometry is the language by which God designed the universe, it should also be the language by which architects design their buildings"?
The question of a link between God and architecture an interesting and deep one. As the creator of everything and everyone, there is the fundamental link of God being the reason behind architecture existing. This is something which cannot be ignored in a question such as this. However, it also feels necessary to observe the concept of free will and that we, as people, have the ability to make our own decisions and inspirations. Combining these two statements together, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that architects have been inspired by God.
On the subject of geometry, if God does design through the language of geometry then it would not be absurd to state that architects have been inspired by this. It is no secret that architects have drawn inspiration from nature time after time. With God being the creator of nature, I personally believe that as a result, architects draw inspiration from God. Just as we look at the work of other architects through precedence research, we look at the work of God too.
Do you agree with Unwin?
Unwin's assertion is a bold one. At a base level it relies heavily on the underlying statement that God designs through the language of geometry. It may well be that God does design using geometry, however it may not. Alternatively it may be that a combination of the two is in effect. I feel that the real question behind what Unwin is suggesting is should we copy God? Should we mirror His designs and draw inspiration from His works?
I think that regardless of our intentions, we all do this. It is hard not to. Where ever we look we subconsciously take in inspiration from what we see. Even the buildings of others may have been inspired by another building, which could have been inspired by a sculpture, which was inspired by landscape, which was created by God. On the other hand, ignoring the subconscious influences, the question asked SHOULD we design using geometry as well? This suggests intention.
Unfortunately I believe this to be a question which requires subjective answer. I cannot speak on behalf of the population at general as everyone has different intentions for their own designs. However, I personally enjoy designs of natural response. Therefore I believe that designing through the use geometry, if this is the way the world is designed, is something to be explored. Alternatively, sometimes contrast is needed in order to create a design which works with it's surroundings.
As someone who is still only just starting out with my architectural life, I have no definitive answer as to my agreement with Unwin's statement. However, I am certainly open to the concept of it.
Unwin also explains one of the main reasons why architects, designers and clients use ideal geometry: "It speaks of a 'higher', more perfect level of interaction with the world, where the will triumphs over the untidiness and tribulations of mundane reality".
Creating order in architecture often considered a good thing. I agree with this line of thinking. As a fan of structure and order within design I find that using geometry can be an ideal way to generate such results. Using planning within cities enabled civilisations both new and old to link interactions between the people and places within them. Furthermore, the cities themselves became better linked and as such the whole world is now at a point where we can interact in a much more structured way.
For example, if we left the designing of cities to chance, they would likely become untidy and unhappy places to live in. The same can be said to be true within buildings and objects too.
Do you think that ideal geometry can help us organise our lives?
I agree with this question. As previously stated, I enjoy structure and order within design, and indeed my life. I like to be organised. I believe that ideal geometry can indeed help us with the organisation of our lives. The use of rules and guidelines can generate order, ideal geometry is a way of achieving this.
Unwin goes on to say "Ideal geometry manifests human discipline and aspiration to achieve a perfection in form not found in nature".
The examples of Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry, whereas debatably very different given the subject of this question, are both very relevant. Discipline suggests strict rules to be adhered to and conjures up thoughts of straight lines and set ways of doing things. This is perhaps a topic found more in relation to the classical ideas behind architectural design than the more contemporary ones.
The works of Hadid and Gehry are very abstract and flow quite naturally in the way that they work. Their forms are inspired by natural fluidity (mainly found in the works of Zaha Hadid) and a somewhat sense of disorder (as with Frank Gehry's designs). However, the forms can quite arguably be said to mirror the concepts behind the designs found in nature.
This is different to the kind of forms found in the classical architectural designs, which follow very geometric designs. For example the 'golden ratio' has often played it's part in architecture. It is these kind of designs which more followed the ideas of human discipline and aspiration. The architects were not following nature so much as mathematical principles. It is therefore that I suggest that perhaps 'perfection' of a kind not found in nature may be classed as possible. This is because natural designs tend to work not with the kind of designs which mathematical principles produce.
However, this statement from Unwin is somewhat contradictory to his earlier statement of how architects should design using geometric language in the same way as God. If God created nature using geometric language, and if Unwin is saying that architects should use geometric language too, how can he also say that ideal geometry creates a perfection which is not found in nature?
How about your own approach to architecture? Do you prefer organic or geometrical structures? Why?
Within architecture I have got mixed preferences regarding my own approaches towards organic and geometric structures. I believe that a design must respond to it's context and to it's use. In one place, an organic design may be more relevant, but in another a geometric one may be more necessary.
If I were to choose a generic style, I would be more inclined towards a preference in organic structures. This is because I prefer the idea of a more natural world, one which responds to the environments around us. I would like to see a natural integration of architecture and the built environment in general with the natural one.
Below are a few examples of ideal geometry within modern designs.
Analysis of both historical and contemporary buildings, as well as comparisons between them, can be very informative to our own designs. With our Design Studio module work picking up, it is a sensible point with which to further investigate the precedents of architectural design.
The Tower Of London
which sits proud as a key landmark in not just London, but Britain. Since it's original creation, time has seen the White Tower be surrounded by around 20 other towers, and the complex be expanded into a stronghold. The Tower Of London features inner and outer walls too, and the whole stronghold is situated high up.
The Tower Of London is organised defensively. It's layers and towers all guard the stronghold in it's strategic position. The complex is big and emits authority, it has become an iconic symbol. This is status as a symbol has come in part due to it's location and design. It is undeniable that the history of The Tower Of London has played it's part, but the location and design are arguably what have led to it's history in the first place.
It was placed next to the Thames, allowing strong defence against ships and people alike. It is built not only on high ground, but also high up. Therefore it can be seen clearly from far around (especially during the time in which it was built!). It's size and layers, as mentioned earlier, emit authority and power. When it was built, the monarchy held significantly more power over the country than today. The Tower was built with this in mind and housed multiple kings. Naturally, the perception The Tower Of London was impacted by this. It was, and is, seen as a place of power, authority and importance.
and despite its reflective nature, to be noticed. In many ways, this is very similar to what The Tower Of London aimed to achieve when it was built. The Tower made a point of power, defence and victory. The Shard makes a point of attracting world business and hence drawing in more money, which in the terms of the modern day world, equates to more power.
Of course the purposes of the two structures are fundamentally different in regards to the activities which take place within them. However some of the intents behind them both, as discussed, I believe to be considerable similar.
Interestingly, the Shard tends to be called more than one name. Formerly, amongst these names was 'London Bridge Tower'. Whilst not the same, it is certainly similar to 'The Tower Of London'. A coincidence perhaps, but an interesting one nonetheless.
With regards to the subject of hierarchy and perception, the first point is perhaps more relevant here. As a place of authority, physically raising the Castle up implies that the occupants are above the rest of the city, that they are more important. This generated a hierarchal system of class amongst Nottingham during the time of the Castles peak usage. For example, the Castle was amongst Richard The Lionheart's favoured building and was occupied by him frequently.
As a side fact, the Castle was originally built under the orders of William The Conquerer, just as the Tower Of London was.
At the beginning of the year, my class went on a site trip around Nottingham. My feelings of Nottingham Castle are very much the same as my research suggests. The Castle is an imposing and high rising structure. If I were to have lived during the era of it's use as a castle, I feel that I would have definitely have felt the presence of a hierarchal system from the Castle.
Hierarchy and positioning are something to think about considerably more than I first expected when starting this architectural investigation. Of course I had a basic understanding of how location could factor in on specific factors, but my thoughts tended to stretch no further than the physical and literal, the amount of sunlight for example. I now feel more understanding of the immaterial aspects surrounding such ideas as elevation of a structure. These are elements of design which I will now aim to bare in mind when forming my
There is now a new section to the blog labelled 'Design Studio'. In this section you can find all my work, future, past and present, from the Design Studio module of my architecture course. This will include research, developments and design, of course!
The Oxford Dictionary of English defines 'chthonian' as "relating to or inhabiting the underworld". Chthonian power therefore refers to a power relating to the underworld and/ or a deity.
Oxford Reference, however, states that 'chthonian' literally means "belonging to the earth". They say that the term can be "used to describe a god or goddess of the earth or the underworld." Furthermore they suggest that the term can be used to describe the divine creative force.
"[...] whereas a sacred natural feature is location-specific, a sacred building, such as a Christian church, can, in principle, be raised almost anywhere with appropriate rites of consecration" (p.11)
- Tuan, Y, (2009), Religion: From Place To Placelessness.
To answer the question of whether or not I agree with this statement, I must separate it out. It starts by stating that "a sacred natural feature is location-specific". It is an understandable statement to make and is perfectly logical. This is because if a feature is natural then it has not been put there by a person. As far that element is concerned, the feature is location-specific. However, for something to be sacred there must be reason behind the meaning. There must be a declaration of the location becoming sacred, a decision to make it so. Regardless of where this decision comes from, the feature arguably only becomes location-specific after initial decision to regard it as sacred has occurred. Up to that point, the location is an any other.
A sacred building, on the other hand, works differently. The quote is correct in that we are more or less capable of building a structure of sacred intent "almost anywhere". Yet there is more to religion than place. For example, it is commonly said that Church is more than a building. By this, it is suggested that faith is not merely bound to the confines of a building, but is instead lived out in the lives of those who follow it. I do agree with this quote though. My concerns for its complete undeniability are minor. I see how natural features are considered location-specific and understand the way in which sacred buildings may be built in various locations.
"To educated Europeans, natural features may be valued for ecological and aesthetic reasons, but that does not make them sacred. If, in vestigial faith, anything is still regarded as not wholly of this world, it is the consecrated building: a shrine, church or synagogue" (p.14)
- Tuan, Y, (2009), Religion: From Place To Placelessness.
The quote may apply to other religions too. However, I do not wholeheartedly agree with my understanding of the statement. I believe that there is still much belief held in places and features as being sacred and special. I am not sure that the buildings themselves are regarded as other worldly. The phenomenology of the building on the other hand, that may well be described as "not wholly this world". As such, I believe that sacred natural features also maintain their sense of other worldliness too.
Can Sacredness Change/ Enhance The Spirit Of A Place?
A few weeks ago I explored the concept of phenomenology. The link to that research can be found here. Essentially it refers to the experience of a place. I believe that sacredness can indeed change the spirit of a place. In my opinion it also enhances it. A place takes on a whole new feeling and meaning when it becomes classified as sacred. Initially, I thought of arguing the point that although a place may be sacred, you do not necessarily react differently to it until you know of it's importance. However, upon reflection of that thought, I do not believe this to be entirely true. Often there is a sense within a place that it is different, special. For that reason I feel that there definitely is an enhancement which comes with sacredness.
My drawn response to this task (above) is representative of my interpretation of sacredness within a place. Through this drawing, I am trying to show how when in a sacred place, one can simply stop. In the presence of something sacred, it is not uncommon to cease movement and action to just take it in. I have left a lot of space at the top and kept the background very light to allow for the idea of something being out there. Furthermore, i have created rays of light, commonly referred to as 'God rays', projecting from the person. This usually signifies the presence of a very bright source of light in front of the object, in this case the person.
I am happy with my response. I believe that it conveys my thoughts of this task well. Despite this being a blog on architecture, sacredness goes beyond buildings and into the space and lives around us. This image does not confine itself to a building, instead opting to allow each individual who views it to make their own interpretation of my own. Opinions are important, as are experiences. Sacredness can cause different experiences to different people, this is key in my understanding of this task and just as much in my response.
Oxford University Press, (2012), The Oxford Dictionary Of English 3rd Edition.
http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095611619 - 17th November 2013.
The End Of An Era