Monday, March 14, 2011

BP 8: A Nautilus Shell


Sense the beginning of this class I have started to take more notice in thee building and forms around me. I see details everyday that the Romans or Greeks used, and can see how it has been manipulated to fit the day. While many designs grow off each other, I have taken an interest in the idea of showing power through design.

Ever sense the pyramids, rulers strived to prove their power and royalty to impress their followers and intimidate their enemies. One characteristic has remained relatively constant through out the ages and that is scale- the bigger, the better. However, the way this idea is approached is what differs from structure to structure.

I chose pictures of buildings that we have been learning about in class this year. I focused on the Pyramid of Khufu, which is the great pyramid of Giza; it is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza. It was built to be a tomb for the pharaoh; the idea of size equals power is pulsing from the structure that serves only one purpose.

The Xianyang Palace was built for rulers as well, however, instead of having one structure that came to a point, the palace spread itself vertically and horizontally. The land was also manipulated in order for the structure to appear high that the land reflecting the rulers authority and dominance.

Rome went above and beyond when it came to scale, creating structures that required new design and building methods to be developed. The Colosseum and the public baths are two examples of Rome showing off its wealth and power. The extravagant heights of the structures continue through history and even to this day. During the gothic era, massive cathedrals were being constructed to show the power of religion. The Amiens Cathedral in France has a towering, intimidating fa├žade, while other cathedrals had a softer, more welcoming vibe. Regardless of the cathedrals atmosphere, it was almost always the dominating structure in the city that could be seen from miles and miles away.

After the gothic period a different approach is rising and the idea of height is not as important. The Chateau of Versailles is a magnificent example of how this change takes place. Buildings were designed to take up as much space on the land as they could, this controlled the way the building were viewed and showed power because of how far the eye must travel to view the ends of the structure.

So while everyone is chasing to be the best and most powerful, they are simply modifying and branching off the previous designs. Same language, different dialect.


text sources:
Roth, Leland M.. Understanding Architecture:  Its Elements, History, and Meaning. New York, NY: Icon Editions, 1993. Print.
Ching, Frank, Mark Jarzombek, and Vikramaditya Prakash. A Global History of Architecture . 2nd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2011. Print.

Image sources: