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
Old And New
The Alhambra stays true to the idea of having courtyards within the structure. It has multiple courtyards throughout which feature different elements, such as the two examples above showing a pond and a fountain. As can be seen, the courtyards are surrounded by windows and balconies, yet another example of the Alhambra's culmination of Islamic architectural of elements.
This building is a very old one. One with a lot of history. It used to be a fort, hence it's irregular shapes and ramparts. It is now a popular tourist destination, but as far as medieval Islamic architecture is concerned, it really is a prime example.
traditional Islamic architecture is that Masdar City will be completely encompassed in a wall. This is to protect the city and it's population from the harsh environment which it is situated in, as with medieval Islamic architecture.
There is more to this new city than connections to the past though. This really is a city for the future. The whole city is designed to run off solar power where possible. It will also make use of a huge hydrogen power plant too. There will be no cars within the walls, meaning that people will be encouraged to walk or cycle. No skyscraper will be allowed either, allowing maximum amounts of light to reach the solar panels. There are also mass plans for recycling and composting too, as well as providing clean water for the whole population. The cit aims to produce no carbon and no waste. At all. If it works then it will be a triumph for Abu Dhabi, but more importantly Masdar City will become an example of an entirely feasible future.
It is entirely reasonable to suggest that Madar City has ben influenced by globalisation. This term is often associated with the spread of multinational companies, for example McDonalds who, in 2011, had reached operation in over 100 countries. But globalisation goes beyond the spread the spread of businesses, it is also a spread of ideas across the world. Some may see it as good, some may see it as bad, but it is undeniably happening.
In architecture, there is a globalisation of styles. Once upon a time it would have been that the architecture in Britain would have been vastly different to the architecture in Egypt for example. Yet more recently, there has been an increasing convergence of styles. All over the world there are now towering skyscrapers in competition with each other. The introduction of the steel frame and other more modern building materials and techniques has brought about buildings that once wouldn't have existed. Due to improvements in communication, infrastructure and travel, all of these things have spread across the world. For example Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, is being designed by Foster + Partners, who are based in London.
This beautiful image shows many references to more traditional approaches to Islamic architecture. It allows these modern builds to fit into the context of their surroundings, as opposed to conflicting with them. I find this to be something which the rest of world tends to struggle with. Perhaps we should begin to inform our design decisions through looking at how Islamic architecture works. Instead of concerning ourselves with how globalisation may effect that style, perhaps we should be accepting globalisation from it. I strongly believe, after researching through this task, that contemporary Islamic architecture presents plenty to learn from.
In response to this research and the comparisons and analysis that it has produced, I have drawn my own interpretation of the content in this post, summarised into one drawing. It can be seen below.
This drawing is my depiction of how globalisation has spread. There is a mix of culture, tradition and modern. I chose to show the Gherkin and the Shard through very traditional Islamic arches. I picked these buildings because of their iconic nature, they are symbols of modern day architecture. Furthermore, they are also both architectural icons of London, the city in which Foster + Partners (the company designing Masdar City) are based.
Traditional Islamic architecture only tends to show views of the indoors. This is not always the case, but it is often a consistency. Here I have shown the buildings through the arches. My intention here is not that the arches be facing out into the world, but that they are still facing inwards towards the home. By doing this, my intention is to explain how other cultures and ideas are being accepted. It is as though these modern buildings have been accepted into a house of Islamic architectural design, and have been placed securely in amongst the courtyard.
Edwards, N. (2012). "Granda, Spain: Guide To Visiting The Alhambra." Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/spain/9145335/Granada-Spain-guide-to-visiting-the-Alhambra.html. Last Accessed 09/11/2013.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/art/architecture.shtml - 09/11/2013
http://islamic-arts.org/2012/islamic-architecture/ - 09/11/2013
http://www.mrupp.info/Photos/2004-Spain/alhambra_courtyard.jpg - 09/11/2013
http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-some-characteristics-islamic-art-archite-401579 - 09/11/2013
http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/pacoayala/pacoayala1111/pacoayala111100007/11147783-courtyard-of-the-lions-of-the-alhambra-in-granada--26-10-2011.jpg - 09/11/2013
http://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/historicalintroduction.asp - 09/11/2013
http://blacklemag.com/technology/masdar-city-and-the-world-of-tomorrow/ - 09/11/2013
http://masdarcity.ae/en/ - 09/11/2013
http://future360.tv/video/masdar-city-2013 - 09/11/2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyghLnbp20U - 10/11/2013
http://www.khaledazzam.net/projects/souk-of-abudhabi/ - 10/11/2013