Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Mossman Building: Three Refined Moments

This first moment is intended to show the outside of the building if you're looking from across the street. I thought that the use of marker in my inspiration was really effective in showing shadow and depth, and therefore decided to mock that in my drawing. Originally, I had colored everything outside of the building too (the road, the car, the trees, the sky, etc). However, after receiving feedback, I decided that this was too distracting. Editing this photo, I focused on only the building, and incorporated silhouettes rather than detailed figures to show scale (the car, the bushes, the person).
This second moment was intended to bring focus to the round desk in the middle of the first floor. In my inspiration, the artist used lines in colored pencil to show form and direction. I though this use of a different media was incredibly interesting. Originally, I had used lines, but in some spots it was unclear what was a room versus a window, and there was no scale figure. I added even more lines to places that were just solid color, and I continued floor lines to show where the floor was directed. I made it so that all the lines led to the center, making the main focus the desk.

This last moment is of a walkway to the Spring Garden entrance into the Mossman building. I decided to take hatching as an inspiration, but also add my own twist: along with hatching, I incorporated single diagonal lines to show change in depth. My moment is excessively hatched like that of my inspiration. Originally it was hatched, but the sky was white, causing the sky to look like it was another piece of the building. Therefore I decided to color it with marker and diagonal lines. However, I felt that these lines were a little distracting, so I went over the outline of the building with a thicker pen to distinguish the ground and sky from the actual building. I also added more hatching to emphasize contrast even more, since that was a thing that the entire class seemed to struggle with.

I think this exercise was really efficient in expanding our horizons a bit. I was definitely put out of my comfort zone when asked to find ways other than contour to draw a perspective. However, by using different techniques, I was forced to explore and find other ways to show space. I enjoyed trying to mock the techniques in my inspiration drawings because it helped me realize that I don't have to stick to contour and hatching all the time. It also helped me in finding my own style, which combines hatching and drastic contrast.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


METRIC: Of or relating to measurement; of or relating to the metric system; ways of thinking of something as a system (Patrick Lucas).
When thinking of the word “metric”, one automatically thinks of measurement. Yes, the word “metric” could be used to explain measurement and scale in design, but there’s more to it than 
that. The metric of a space or collection of spaces is the way in which something is organized to create a system. System gives way to interaction between people in a space. This system and its connection to interaction are clear in the Baths of the Diocletian. With multiple purposes (enjoyment, entertainment, exercise, education, etc.) they create a system of living. The baths are organized on 32 acres of land, each space having a different commodity. It is separated into three parts: the caldarium, tepidarium and frigidarium. These three sections are connected by water, and enclosed by a large wall around the whole piece of land. These baths accommodate women, men and slaves, though at different times of day. Referring to the more literal definition, metrics are important in design. In order to accommodate all nine words above, one must consider measurement. For example, proximity, or how someone or something is spaced from another, can only work with intended measurements. Let’s say a designer wants to create a feeling of comfort in a residential design for a family; he or she might space things closer together than someone who is designing a commercial space for people who do not necessarily feel as comfortable with each other.

PRECEDENT: Something said or done that may serve to authorize or justify further words or acts of the same or similar kind.

Precedents provide history for a style of architecture. Like I said last week, precedents (or prototypes) provide a path for the development of design. Before building, architects often refer to a previous model for inspiration. As we already know, Rome used several precedents for its creation of architecture, the column being the most obvious example. The Romans took the Greek orders, cut them in half, and added their own ornamentation to create a pilaster, which was adopted as the Roman column form. This use of a precedent continued as Rome began to separate. For example, the form of the church began as a piggyback off of the basilica form. “Constantine and church officials looked to secular public buildings, and the type they selected was the basilica” (Roth, 280). The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is just one example of numerous churches built off of this form. It was ordered by Constantinople to be built as “a basilica more beautiful than any on earth” (Roth, 284). Though it was formed as a basilica, it was used as a church in the rise of Christianity. To this day, architecture styles still incorporate the use of precedents. For example, the dome on the Pantheon became a precedent for multiple governmental buildings across the country. Used in my precedent analysis project, Grand Central Terminal was used a precedent internationally in terms of influencing train stations. In the continuation of passageway, each model was intended to provide inspiration for the next, to the point where we are using our own models, as well as a precedent in history, to create a 3-D portal for a door. This process of precedent is gradient in that there is a continuation of development over time.

PRESENCE: The fact or condition of being present; the space immediately around a person; the bearing of a person

Along with precedent, the presence of style in history makes way for new styles. There would be no development without existence. For example, the presence of the Greek orders provided for column development. The existence of Roman Basilicas gave way to the development of Christian churches. Presence is also important in a sense of delight. In order for a building to be what it is intended (whether it’s meant to be mysterious, inviting, avoiding) it must obtain a certain presence. Usually this desired presence is delight. Designers want the people who will be using the space to be delighted by its presence. The church of Hagia Sophia contains this aspect of delight. On page 290, Roth explains how the design of this church is associated with the fusion of empire and church. “Unlike the static an rationally perceivable forms and spaces of classical architecture, here all seems in motion, surfaces curving and intersecting, bathed in a mystical, suffused light issuing from the hundreds of windows and reflecting from marbled walls and mosaics” (Roth 290). “…All these details […] produce a single and most extraordinary harmony in the work, yet do not permit the spectator to linger much over the study of any one of them, but each detail attracts the eye and draws it on irresistibly to itself” (Procopius quoted by Roth, 291). This presence provides the utmost respect for worship and Christianity, as well as an enjoyable space for those in worship.

DUALITY: Having a double character or nature
Though Webster seems to believe that duality has to do with double, I beg to differ. When I think of duality, I think “more than one” or “multiple”. If a design is successful, it will serve more than one purpose. It will follow commodity, firmness AND delight. It will be universally designed so that it will accommodate the present and the future, man and woman, both young and old, etc. An early example of this duality is the bath. These baths provide changing rooms, 
gymnasiums, libraries, meeting rooms, theaters, concert halls, and so much more. Though these baths are not all incorporated into one building, they provide an organized metric for a specific community, and serve multiple purposes. They accommodate social and physical needs (entertainment and exercise), they are built with a structure that accommodates the people (33 acres inside a 20 foot wall (Roth, 269)), and they are delightful in that they are not only physically enjoyable, but also visually. Most baths are made with mosaic floors and marble facades. This way, they are easy to wash and maintain. In our process of creating a passageway, we discovered that each passageway made to represent one word (rhythm, proximity, contrast, symmetry, balance, boundary, pos/neg. space, hierarchy, gradient) actually resembled multiple words. Why? These words all go together. For example, I made a staircase for the word 
“symmetry”, however, this staircase also incorporated rhythm in its direction, as well as balance in its similarity on both sides. The ability for a design to obtain more than one of these aspects is what makes it influential, not to mention it allows for change within a space.

MOMENT: a minute portion of time; a time of excellence; consequence, significant
Moments create intimacy in design. They celebrate the excellence and success of a design. There are certain moments in design where the layout of a space becomes incredibly successful, and these moments are where the incorporated elements are obvious; where there is a sense of delight. Churches create moments for people to worship; these moments are crucial in religion. In the church of Santa Costanza this moment is in the circle. This circle creates a connection between heaven and earth. It provides a space in which people can worship to an altar, which is in the middle of the circle, raised on a platform. Baths create moments for people to be entertained; these moments are crucial in society. In the Baths of Diocletian, these moments happen during the enjoyment of each amenity, whether it’s in the gymnasiums, or the libraries or the theatres. These moments tell stories in that they tell how a space is being experienced. Each moment is linked by an aspect of design. In drawing class we were asked to choose 5 thumbnail drawings of a building that represent moments. I chose the places in the building where people walked or sat, or stood and had a conversation. These moments are crucial in the experience of a space.

The main focus of our other design classes (not so much history) has been this idea of creating a moment using duality. We spoke about numerous aspects of design and divided these aspects into nine categories: (1) Boundaries, (2) Positive and Negative Space, (3) Rhythm, (4) Balance, (5) Symmetry, (6) Contrast, (7) Gradient, (8) Hierarchy, (9) Proximity. All nine of these words must be considered during the process of design. It is difficult to portray one of these words, without portraying another along with it, though it is possible to emphasize the importance of one over an other. All of these words together create a language that shapes design. The reason I have chose to speak about these in my summary is because I believe that they connect directly with all of the words above. These words create a metric or a system, and also require measurement in order to be effective. A precedent can be used in order to develop a further knowledge of these words. For example, one could look up a word from the list above, and click on images, and oftentimes a building or a space will appear in at least 5 of these images. This is because these words are important aspects of design and architecture. All of these words are important in creating a sense of delight or presence. Without these words, there is not much organization, and therefore the design is less successful. There is a duality in design when one of these words is incorporated, because with one of these concepts, comes another concept. The most obvious example of this is the interaction between symmetry and balance. If something is symmetrical, it is the same on both sides. This means that the visual or actual weight is the same on both sides, creating a balance. Last but not least, these words are what create moments. If something is contrasted in a design, it is often a strong contrast, and therefore creates a moment in the attention that it attracts. If there is an obvious difference between the uses of positive and negative space, that will be where the moment is. The interior architecture professors have put so much emphasis on this language this past week, that I couldn’t ignore the use of them in my blog. I noticed this importance in all of my previous projects, as well as those that I am working on now, and therefore, I must tie them together with this theme of voices, and the way that a design speaks to the people experiencing a space.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Grand Central Terminal: Building Selection & Justification

Grand Central Terminal
New York, New York
Reconstruction began in 1902
William J. Wilgus- chief engineer; Reed and Stem in agreement with Warren and Wetmore “The Associated Architects of Grand Central Terminal”

Grand Central terminal, previously known as Grand Central Depot, was designed by John B. Snook and built in 1869 as an accommodation for the travel of many people during the 19th century. In 1902, a rail collision sparked an interest to demolish the depot and start over and create an entirely new double level terminal for electric trains. Architects Reed and Stem and Warren and Wetmore combined their ideas to create what became the country’s busiest train station. As time went on, the building began to crumble, which led to multiple renovations and plan proposals thereafter.

This train station saw much history in the development of New York City as a whole. The completion of it’s construction gave way to the building of its entourage: hotels like the Roosevelt and the Waldorf-Astoria, as well as apartment buildings such as the Marguery and the Park Lane. It correlates to the theory of commodity, firmness and delight. It accomodates the function of a train station, it's well built, and it obtains desirable features. It was established as a National Historic Landmark in 1967,and continues to stand as one today. Grand Central terminal is the gateway to transportation for half of the US population, and it serves an example of successful urban project that gave rebirth to a historic building. It continues to act as a New York icon, and I’m sure that it will continue to develop through the future.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moments in the Mossman Building

 After drawing what we believed to be the plan of this building, our group was asked to contribute 12 thumbnail drawings of "moments" in the Mossman Administration Building. Where possible, we were to draw "spots" in relation to scale figures. Each thumbnail was only to take 15 minutes (maximum), in order to give us the oppurtunity to explore speedy depictions of space.

parts : whole

SOURCE: Any thing or place from which something comes, arises or is obtained; an origin.
Source is a major component in architectural development. It has to do with the foundations of architecture, or where architecture comes from. Sources are extremely important in history because they give further information about subjects that are potentially difficult to understand. “Documentary evidence from literary sources, reliefs, wall paintings, sarcophagi, and marble and bronze parts extend our knowledge about the characteristics of Roman furniture” (Blakemore, 61). Not only do sources like these help us understand furniture, but they also help us understand architecture. Because it is a city buried under lava, the city of Pompeii is somewhat preserved, and the buildings are more complete than those of a city that might have been destroyed in a battle. The structures and shapes of these buildings, as well as the untouched facades, allow us to examine the existence of civility in Roman culture. From the preservation of this city, we are able to extend our knowledge about the roadways, forums, theatres, basilicas, temples, baths and commercial spaces that played a role in culture. Beyond literal sources, Egyptian and Greek architecture are sources, or PROTOTYPES, for Roman Architecture. The Romans assimilated many aspects of these two cultures, and combined and refined them into a new style of architecture, which I will explain further as this blog continues. In drawing, we have developed a skill in drawing thumbnail drawings, which are basic drawings showing only the important aspects of building. These thumbnails are sources for larger and more detailed illustrations to come.

ARCHETYPE: the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; a prototype
PROTOTYPE: The original or model on which something is based or formed; something that serves to illustrate the qualities of a class; an original, full scale and usually working model of a new product or new version of an existing product.
HYBRID: Something of mixed origin or composition.

These three words create a system. The prototype is the first level of this system. The prototype is the first model ever made, and becomes the basis of every model of that same design that will ever be built. After the prototype comes the archetype, which is the transformation of the prototype into something more advanced that perhaps better meets the goals of the builders. Last but not least is the hybrid. The hybrid is the combination and expansion of ideas from all those prototypes before it. It may act as the final model at certain points in time, but it will never be final. Why? Because every type of design is a prototype for the next. As we have discussed several times, the cycle of design has constantly changed with trends and styles. Architecture continues to expand with every new generation of culture. Although these designs are hybrids in that they are combinations of previous ideas, they continue to be models for future architecture.
The Parthenon in Greece is the archetype of the temple forms. Why? It is the ideal design for worshipping the Gods. It serves all the purposes intended by the Greeks such as those discussed by Roth. When describing the Greek character on page 220, Roth mentions that “the mixing together of aspects of the sophisticated Minoan/Mycenean cultures with the pragmatism of the Dorians produced a unique Greek character, emphasizing inquisitiveness, a love of action, and the desire to achieve perfection in human intellectual and physical endeavors”. The temple of Hera, built around 600 BC, was merely a prototype of the Doric temple. The design of this temple was continuously refined, and created an idea that moved towards more complexity and order, such as the Temple of Athena. The Parthenon was then built, along with many other temples on the acropolis, with means of finding the ideal form. “Both in form and in ornament, Roman design was based on Greek prototypes” (Blakemore, 67). When Rome became the Roman Empire (taking over Greece and parts of Egypt), they adopted much of Greek architecture, including the Greek orders, to create new hybrid buildings, such as the Pantheon. Assimilating this idea of worshipping the Gods by temple, they created the Pantheon. “The Roman temple, templum, based on Etruscan prototypes, was similar to the greek temple and eventually was embellished with Greek orders 
and architectural details” (Roth, 250). The idea of the Pantheon was to create a universe between earth and the Gods. In order to further this goal, the Romans used an oculus, or an “opening to the heavens”. Not only is the Pantheon a hybrid, or combination of earlier design, but it is also an “embryonic prototype” for buildings to come. For example, our capitol building in Washington D.C., as well as many other government buildings throughout America, resembles the infamous dome on the Pantheon.
ENTOURAGE: surroundings or the environment; (in architecture) the landscaping and other nearby environmental features shown on a rendering of a building.
Entourage is what shapes architecture. Roman architecture was primarily influenced by entourage. “Foremost among these influences were geographic position, conquests, technology, priorities in social life, and religion” (Blakemore, 45). In other words, Roman architecture was shaped by its inclusion of both Greek and Egyptian culture in its empire, along with its dedication to religion and politics, and its ability to innovate new technologies. For example, the Colosseum accommodates the practice, of “bread and circus”. It creates a space that brings people together and distracts the populus from political situations, while the forum is an open space whose primary intention is to house politics and social gatherings. Incorporation of physical surroundings was also an important aspect. In Rome’s case, nature was ignored if it was considered a burden. “If a stony mountain outcrop loomed in the way, they simply cut through it” (Roth, 250). Dedication to religion and politics included the development of many temples and forums for praise and hard work. As for new technologies, Rome developed many new building techniques, such as the arch, the vault, the dome, the basilica and the aqueduct. Concrete became the major building technique, giving way for these heightened developments in architecture.

HIERARCHY: Any system of persons or things ranked one above the other; a series of ordered groupings of things within a system.

^ The order of ranking (the top is highest class, the bottom is lowest)
The wu-wu’s and the arches are both obvious examples of hierarchy. Roman culture was all about marking territory and competing with others. The wu-wu is a vertical single column that guards the landscape of Rome. It represents the importance of masculinity and illustrates the motto “the bigger, the better”, and also enforces the strength of politics and the military. Around this wu-wu, there are scrolls of stories conveying the hierarchy of government during times of battle. For example, the column of Marcus Aurelius commemorates his multiple military campaigns against many other empires. This column is placed in the middle of the Piazza Colonna, exaggerating its scale and emphasizing its importance. The arch is a “ceremonial gateway” that celebrates victory and represents transformation. This, too, is covered in reliefs that tell stories about the supposed hierarchy of Rome over other empires. Both forms are intended to enforce this idea that one culture is greater than the other. Hierarchy also relates to use of material. For example, the woods that were most valued in Roman furniture were maple and citron, which were most likely used for beings of a higher social class, whereas oak and cedar were used for middle or lower class people. The metals used for reliefs and decoration of chairs and tables varied with class as well. Applying the word "hierarchy" to interior elements, the walls were made more important than the ceilings through the use of glass and mosaics.In terms of the elements of design, hierarchy is used to put emphasis on what is important and distract the audience from what isn’t. For example, if a designer wanted their client to focus on the couch, she would place the couch in the middle of the room, and design everything else in relation to the importance and placement of that couch. If a designer wanted to create a mood by using color, he or she would only use one color, and perhaps some undertones that compliment that color, but there would not be a confusing mixture of other elements.

ORDER: any of five such arrangements typical of classical architecture, including the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders invented by the Greeks and adapted by the Romans, the Tuscan order, invented by the Romans, and the Composite order, first named during the Renaissance.

The word order has two meanings in architecture. The first applies to the Greek orders, which were eventually developed by Romans. The orders are in order (no pun intended) from early to more recent above. The Doric column was the first column used, which became a prototype for further orders, as they became more detailed as time went on. The Doric order consists of no base, and a capital of banded necking and a square slab (Roth, 30). This is drastically different from the precise ornament of the composite order. The composite order “places the volutes of the Ionic capital atop the curled ancathus leaves of the Corinthian” (Roth, 31). In Greek architecture, the orders were used for structure, as seen in the Parthenon, holding up the roof. However, the Romans used the orders for delight rather than structural function. Not only did they “piggyback” off of the use of the orders, but they also developed a new “engaged” column. This column is actually a half-column that “merges the column with the wall” (Roth, 31), acting as a pilaster. This example furthers the idea of prototype and hybrid. The Greek orders act as prototypes for Roman columns. The Romans took the best aspects of the Greek world and changed the physicality. In the colosseum, the Romans used all 3 Greek orders, one on each floor: the first being Doric, the second being Ionic, and the third being Corinthian. This inclusion of all 3 orders was intended to represent the passage of time, and the passage of ideas with time.

The second use of the word “order” has to do with organization and composition. The combination of architecture and design creates a sense of order within a space. In interior architecture, it’s crucial that an interaction exists between the interior and exterior in a space. This interaction creates a sense of order in that it gives way for the connection of elements, such as contrast, balance, symmetry, etc. Without order, a design would not be sufficient. I’m not sure it could even be considered a design. The word “mess” is probably more appropriate.

This brings me to my stitching of all these concepts together. The title for this blog is appropriate in that it recalls the idea that interior architecture is a “holistic creation” (John Kurtich and Garett Eakin). Every word in this blog has some connection with the integration of architecture, or the bringing together of parts to create a whole. Source covers the foundations of architecture, and the cultures that are the basis of all design. The words archetype, prototype and hybrid depict the passage of ideas from one generation to the next. Entourage touches on the incorporation of context into architecture, and how the two are integrated to create a successful design. Hierarchy puts emphasis on the intentions of the designer in creating a comfortable environment. Order creates a sense of interaction between different elements in the design of a room or building. Therefore, these words are all parts of the whole. Of course, they are not ALL of the parts, but some of them that contribute to the whole of architecture.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drink and Draw

This first drawing is of my roommate and our really good friend just chilling in our room watching tv, and using the computer. Though I didn't go out and draw random people, I didn't tell them that I was drawing them, and therefore, they went about their business, doing what they would usually do. The second one I did outside at the fountain on Saturday when we got that sudden burst of warm air and sunshine =). At first this kid thought I was drawing what was behind him, but as I continued, I think he caught on, because he became fidgety and hesitant with his motions. The third I drew while we were watching our wall presentations (don't kill me please). My classmates had no idea that I was watching them as their heads began to droop onto their arms, and their pencils began to draw away.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Culture Unifies Interiors and Exteriors

SCALE: a proportion used in determining the dimensional relationship of a representation to that which it represents.

In the history of architecture, scale goes hand in hand with social hierarchy and religion. An obvious example of scale and religion is the Temple of Amon at Karnak. This superhuman structure “commands the common people to worship the Gods”. By towering over humans, the structure exaggerates the importance of religion in Egyptian culture. The construction is heavyweight, thought the flared walls underscore the heaviness. The temple is guarded by two stone deities that protect what’s inside the temple, and keep unwanted things out. In terms of social hierarchy, Khufu’s pyramid represents his role as royalty. Out of four pyramids, his is the biggest, followed by those of his family members, and a series of mastabas or tombs for people of a lower class. Blakemore explains in History of Interior Design and Furniture the role that scale plays in social hierarchy. In Egypt, the higher the class, the more elaborate the decoration and the more complex the furniture. “Interior architectural detail and treatment of surfaces on the interior were regulated, in part, by the hierarchical status of the resident” (Blakemore, 9). She explains on page 15 that the first type of seating began as a stool, but gradually advanced to a chair with arms and a backrest.  “More elaborate chairs used more expensive materials and methods, especially for royalty” (Blakemore, 19). When talking about Greek Architecture, Roth explains “On the highest ground the principal palace was built…” (219). This shows a connection between scale and hierarchy. The Parthenon is considered to be one of the most important buildings of Greece, and therefore it is the largest, and can be seen on the Acropolis from anywhere in the city below. This idea of scale in architecture coincides with our exercises in drawing class. In order to justify a space, one must involve people. Therefore, the scale of the space must interact with the people inside of it, whether it is intended to create a sense of authority or a sense of level. In other words, there must always be an interaction, even if it involves hierarchy or not.

SECTION: A part cut off or separated; the appearance that a thing would have if cut straight through.

There are two different definitions of the word “section”; both apply to architecture. In both Egyptian and Greek architecture, a Tripartite system exists. The Egyptian temple consists of three sections: (1) the pylon and courtyard, often with a portico, (2) a hall in which the ceiling or roof was supported by columns, termed hypostyle, and (3) the naos, or sanctuary, which contained the statue of god (Blakemore, 3). This is similar to the Greek Megaron, which is composed of (1) a hall, (2) a storeroom at the back, and later (3) a porch (Blakemore, 31). So to use terms from class, both systems consist of a (1) porch, which acts as a place of transition, (2) a court, which involves gathering of people, and (3) a hearth, which is reserved for special people, such as a priest, or the statue of a god. Each section in these systems serve an important purpose for the system of worship in those two countries. Sections also relate to social hierarchy in a sense that they obtain specific spaces for specific people, separating levels of class. Referring to the second definition, a section cut in drafting shows what a building would look like if it were cut straight down, displaying the structure of walls and roofs as well as slight detail of the interior. We have been asked to draft two sections of the chairs we made for Pat, which I have shown above.

BOUNDARIES: something that marks or fixes a limit (as of territory)
With the intention of protecting hierarchy and religion, boundaries are made around cities. One could argue that the Nile in Egypt, as well as the Mediterranean Sea near Greece, act as boundaries, defining those areas. However, I see these two important bodies of water as a means of communication and courtesy rather than boundaries. As for architectural boundaries, most important buildings are surrounded by walls. In Egypt, villas and mansions were surrounded by thick stone walls, and in order to enter, it was necessary to walk through a gate. The villa, composed of many other buildings than just the house, had a “walled enclosure” (Blakemore, 7). The city mansions also “shared common walls with neighboring mansions” (Blakemore, 7). Motes, acting as boundaries, protect the Khufu pyramids with the intention of avoiding robberies. These Egyptian boundaries act mostly with the intention of protecting religion and hierarchy. It is a similar case with Greece. In Greece, the acropolis is not only surrounded by walls, but also has quite a complex entrance. The Propylaea is a massive building designed to accommodate a procession. This entrance is like a mysterious hallway into the acropolis. Inside the Acropolis, there are multiple buildings that are symbolic of Greek worship, and therefore it is necessary to surround them with boundaries. Citadels are also contained within walls, in order to act as cities, housing many people, and also providing a temple for worship.

UNITY: the state of being one; a whole or totality combining all parts into one
John Kurtich and Garret Eakin define interior architecture as “the holistic creation, development and completion of a space for human use.” Blakemore’s book has already illuminated the word “unity” for me. The beliefs of both Egyptian and Greek culture unify architecture and furniture design. In the last “ornament” paragraphs of both chapters one and two (pages 25 & 44), Blakemore sums up the ideas that go into design. In Egypt, she speaks about the symbolism and the incorporation of motifs such as “winged sun” and “the serpent” 
into both architecture and furniture design. With Greece, she notes the repeated use of different patterns, such as concentric circles, plant life and wave patterns. These patterns bring 
exterior (architecture) and interior (furniture design) together. Unity is also found in the locations of many buildings. For example, The pyramids of Khufu are built ON the earth, in a graduating height, so that as you move your eye from the top to the bottom, the pyramids seem to disappear into the ground. However, the temple of Hatshepsut is built OF the earth, being built into a cliff, unified with the earth. Gestalt principles enforce unity as well, and these ideas, such as symmetry, similarity and continuation, can be found in multiple buildings in both Greece and Egypt. Some examples of these principles are the Parthenon (symmetry and 
proximity), the pyramids of Khufu (symmetry and continuation) and the temple of Hatshepsut (symmetry and proximity). These gestalt principles also apply to the unit we are touching on in drawing. We are learning to place figures in an environment in order to create a sense of unity in the interaction between those figures and the space. Proximity, or the way you place things, is important because it can represent a good or bad interaction. Symmetry is important to create a balance in a space, and repetition enforces intention, if any exist.

VIGNETTE: A picture that shades off into surrounding ground; a short descriptive literary sketch.
The word “vignette” applies more to what we have been doing in drawing class than what we have been learning about in history. HOWEVER, vignettes did begin in the histories of Egypt and Greece. Heiroglyphics were pictures and symbols painted or carved into walls and floors of Egyptian temples. For the readers (the Egyptian people) these “writings” may have been somewhat literal, but for our generation, these pictures are simply vignettes. They tell a story, but it is more difficult for us to understand the meanings because (a) we don’t read heiroglyphics and (b) these paintings or carvings are aged, and therefore, they are faded or weathered. Greece had a similar system in terms of motifs that they incorporated in their design, and once again, it is hard for us to fully understand the intentions. In drawing, we have been drawing and painting vignettes. Vignettes go hand in hand with unity because in order for them to make any sense, there must be an element that ties all the pieces together. For example, in my vignette above (the academic scene), the order of things as they are placed on my desk are the elements which unify the story. They bring the story full circle. If I had drastically placed them all over the page, the story would be more confusing and messy.

If there were one word that served more purpose than the rest in this group of words, I would choose the word "unity". Unity is a crucial part of design, and I do think that all the rest of the words support it. Scale plays a role in the unity of interaction between people and spaces. Section is a part of the whole (or the unit), and therefore just a tiny part of unity. Boundaries surround a unit, defining it as a whole space, rather than a section. Vignettes require unity in order to portray their definition. These four words are not the only elements that are incorporated in unity. There are many others as well, which is why the term is so important. If a design lacks unity, it most likely lacks most of the elements involved, making it less of a design and more of a mess. Unity is vital for a connection between interiors and exteriors, and without that connection, interior architecture would not exist.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Process of Design: Understanding

“Architecture, Vitruvius wrote, must provide utility, firmness, and beauty or, as Sir Henry Wotten later paraphrased it in the seventeenth century, commodity, firmness and delight” (Roth, 11). Commodity, firmness and delight are the three materials that compose the sum: design. Why open with the nautilus shell? Well, commodity, firmness and delight were the three aspects that I touched on in my admissions project (above). The Nautilus is composed of those three materials. First, it accommodates the animal living inside of it. The chambers of the shell (the camerae) change size as the nautilus grows, and the septa and siphuncles contribute to diet, ventilation and propulsion. Second, the structure is firm. The shell is composed of two layers, creating a durable thickness, and when the nautilus retreats into its shell, the opening is covered by a leathery hood (tentacles). Third, the shell is an obvious shell. When you find a nautilus shell on the beach, you pick it up, and see all the chambers inside, and guess that something used to live in there. The Nautilus Shell, along with many other designs (both natural and manmade) incorporate the parts of a whole: commodity, firmness and delight.

Commodity: n. something useful or valued (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary); the ability to accommodate (Patrick Lucas).

Vitruvius speaks about this idea of “utility”. Function is the “surface element” of design, and though it seems relatively straightforward, it’s more complex than some think. When thinking about commodity, a designer must acknowledge the future: What role will this building play in the years to come? This raises the topic of universal design, or “designing a building so that a possible future activity can be accommodated” (Roth, 14). Function is constantly changing, and therefore it is important to design something that will be able to adjust to change. There are three types of function: utilitarian, circulatory and symbolic. In utilitarian function, the building must accommodate multiple uses. In circulatory function, the goal is to “make appropriate spaces to accommodate, direct and facilitate movement from area to area” (Roth, 15). Last but not least, symbolic function is shown in a building when a building “makes a visible statement about its use” (Roth, 16). All of these types of function create a commodity, or in this case, a building that can be useful in the present, as well as the years to come. The chair that I designed for Pat portrays commodity. In utilitarian function, the chair serves as a seat, server, table AND workstation (multiple uses). In circulatory function, the chair directs the user to the seat to sit, to the bookshelf to store, or to the table to serve or work. In symbolic function, the chair blatantly states its uses in its design. Commodity varies within certain cultures. Depending on values, buildings will be used for different reasons.

Firmness: n. something that is securely fixed in place; not subject to change or fluctuation (Webster); structure (Patrick Lucas).

After commodity comes firmness. The structure of a building is what’s most apparent (Roth, 25). Obviously, it’s important that the structure of a building is sturdy and stable. In order to 
serve as a commodity, the building must be built with care. In our studio class, we have been asked to research and construct a mini-model of an interior metal frame wall. After researching, I have found many examples of the strong structure of a metal frame wall, and the multiple sources of support inside of it. There are two types of structure: physical structure and perceptual structure. Physical structure refers to the “literal bones of the building that do the work” and perceptual structure refers to “what we see” (Roth, 25). Oftentimes, we look at a piece of architecture and imagine ourselves inside of it. This is a result of our perception. 
Processes of structure have evolved over time, from the early Post-and-Lintel systems like those found in the pyramid of Khafre in Egypt, to domes like that on the pantheon, to suspension structures like the Brooklyn Bridge. Processes of structure can be tricky, though. The end directs the operation, which sometimes means that you will have to get to the end product of a design before knowing the flaws. However risky, firmness is always the goal in an end product.

Delight: n. great pleasure or satisfaction; something that gives great pleasure (Webster); aesthetics (Patrick Lucas).
The term “delight” could be interpreted in many different ways. In fact, it’s such a broad category that Roth devoted three chapters to delight. As I see it, delight has to do with appealing to the senses. “Delight involves how architecture engages all our senses, how it 
shapes our perception and enjoyment of (or discomfort with) our built environment” (Roth, 67). Whether it’s in a painting, a sculpture or a building, the creator must consider his/her audience. They must know, along with the end product, the resulting reaction. The above photo was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 is intended to explain the struggles of the great depression. Though this photo is quite undelightful, Lange was thinking about her audience when she took this picture, wishing to enforce the idea that something must be done to end the depression. This photo appealed to the emotions of all viewers, and still does today. Delight varies from culture to culture, as well as firmness and commodity. For example, if I were to 
build a church for a third world country, I would not build a cathedral. The audience is an important aspect of design. In Chapter Three, Roth discusses the different means of space and how it is laid out to please the people using it. The way space is laid out affects behavior, in terms of direction. Some people tend to become stressed in small spaces, others feel more overwhelmed in larger spaces. In Chapter 4, Roth introduces the Gestalt principles, through which the mind interprets form and pattern. “The mind seeks to find utmost order and regularity, and even that the preferred state is absolute uniformity” (Roth, 69). This statement explains that the mind seeks delight in somewhat orderly aspects. However, the mind also seeks variety, which can be incorporated through rhythm, proportion, color, texture, pattern, 
light, and even ugliness. I know what you’re thinking… what does ugliness have to do with delight? Ugliness is a term used to describe inconformity. For some people, there is delight in difference. In the last chapter about delight, Roth discusses architectural acoustics. Hearing architecture? How? Roth gives examples of acoustically pleasing spaces, such as The Church of St. Thomas in Germany, where Bach directed music.

Illuminate: v. to supply or brighten with light; to make clear (Webster)
Rather than automatically referring to the text, I’m going to refer to our task to create an inspiration board last week. We were asked to think about design elements in our story (light, color, pattern, texture and scale) and how they were incorporated into our story. Looking over last week’s notes, it was interesting how clear the cycle of a story could be from light and color, instead of words. In the exercise that we did last week, we were asked to choose artifacts that describe us, in brief words and a drawing of an artifact. The CD above illuminates one of my interests. Like these aspects illuminated the highlights of the story, and like the way the artifact illuminated an interest, the design elements illuminate a design. They imply certain 
intentions without giving out a literal reason for the design. One thing that we spoke of in history is aedicule. Aedicule, by definition, is a way to subdivide space into units that we can understand. Aedicule illuminates space. For example, in a 16th century Basilica, the aedicule emphasizes the altar, therefore illuminating the importance of the building (worship). Our history classroom is divided into parts as well: The seats are for the students who sit and listen, while the stage (or in front of it) is where the authority is, and the aisle runs between the authority and time (the clock). In this case, aedicule illuminates hierarchy to a certain degree. 

Material: n. of or relating to matter rather than form; the elements of which something is composed.

Material is a major part of design. Obviously, this is because it is what composes a design. Oftentimes, people make direct connections between material and things such as fabric or paper. Yes, these are materials. But when the word material is used in the design world, it's not just talking about what textured object you used to make something. A second definition for the word "material" is "something of importance or significance". What are the significant 
aspects that make a design? In order for me to clearly explain the differences, I will use the word "stuff" to refer to things such as fabric, and paper, and I will use the word "material" to 
refer to the significant aspects incorporated. In the artifact that I created for my story, I used important material to make it. When I say I used important material, I mean that I wove many 
different ideas into it. I made a pair of "nature goggles". These goggles are intended to portray the essence of my fairytale: a boy is accused of being too simple, though he sees nature with much depth, and in return, nature gives to him. Each different piece of "stuff" represents "material". The paper with the green, blue and purple colors represent a lens of nature, and there are multiple circles of paper to represent depth. The gold wire represents a sound connection with nature. The sticks are also there to emphasize the theme of nature. This second definition of the word "material" leads to the theory of "material culture", which I will discuss in my next investigation.

Idiom: n. the language peculiar to a person or group; an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words (Webster)

Last week, we discussed material culture, and the tendency for there to be multiple meanings attached to certain things. I chose to portray this word with a vignette, because vignettes are intended to tell a story without words. They are open to any interpretation. To someone who is hungry, the vignette might further that hunger to, perhaps, a 3 o'clock snack. A poor person might resent this vignette because he or she cannot afford to pay for this food. In his book Subculture: The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige analyzes subcultures. He explains that there are many meanings behind one object, whether it’s through alternative expressions (idomatics), relationships between elements an a way of life, or meanings in code. Roland Barthes further supports this idea of “mass culture” where the results of social meanings become universal, applying to more than one culture. This theory supports the idea of semiotics, which includes the study of how meaning is constructed and understood, as well as the study and multi-meanings of signs and symbols. Idioms apply to design in ways common to these studies. Idioms are shown in the connection between the three types of functions (circulatory, utilitarian and symbolic). There is often a symbolic meaning behind the construction of a building. For example, the pyramids look like they were created to “hold lots and lots of stuff”, and they were. But furthermore, they were created to portray a sense of spirit, to emphasize the importance of the afterlife. Referring back to our Stonehenge theme last week, people are having a hard time specifying the reason for it's existence. Some believe that it serves as a sundial which marks the solstice and the equinox. Others believe that it is a way of marking earth for the gods in the heavens. Archaeologists have found evidence that it may be as part of a funeral procession. Maybe it simultaneously covered all 3? So there’s your idiom- Design requires the acknowledgement of so many aspects, that it is impossible for a design to have only one meaning.