Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reading Response 10


Roth, Understanding Architecture

Blog Post 10: Revolution & Design

I believe that the telephone is revolutionary because it started a revolution of instantaneous communication. 

The first models of the telephone changed culture and daily life in America and around the world from writing letters and telegrams or visiting someone in person to being able to instantly communicate with whomever at any time. The first model had a listening device and required the user to talk directly into the wall console so mobility was very limited...speaking on the phone became its own event and activity.

The mid-century rotary phone allowed people more freedom by having the listening and speaking device connected. The cord allowed more mobility by not having to stand at a fixed point at a wall, but able to move about a small radius in a room.

The first cell phone of the 1980's allowed people to go where ever they wanted to while talking on the phone. Talking on the phone became less than activity itself and more of a way to communicate while on the go and doing other things. Push-button phones took less time to dial than rotary phones. The beginning of the cell phone era brought a culture that became all about speed and convenience. 

Verbal communication is only a small component of today's cell phones.  21st century cell phones have revolutionized and entire new form of communication-- the text message. Smart phones allow users to browse internet, use gps features, listen to their music library, and have a world of "apps" at their fingertips using a touch screen, requiring the most minimal amount of effort. Nanotechnology lets people carry their phones in their pockets. These modern cell phones have created a culture where people are never without their telephone, and everyone is constantly communicating. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reading Response 9

Ching, A Global History of Architecture

Blog Post 9: Colonial Expansion

Colonial expansion is seen in almost all architecture in the United States, since we are a very young country and were entirely colonized by European countries. Evidence of colonial expansion to the U.S. is seen in the U.S. capitol building in Washington, D.C.  The facade of the capitol building is almost identical to St. Peter's cathedral in London, England. Large dome structures with many columns and large porticos are seen in cathedrals throughout England, France, Italy and elsewhere. The dome and columns gives the Capitol building an impressive, stately appearance, emphasizing the power of government versus the power of the church in England, during the days where the Church of England was the main authority. 

St. Peter's Cathedral, London, England 

U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the only example of truly American architecture that I can think of are skyscrapers. The first skyscraper of steel frame construction, the Home Insurance building in Chicago, was designed in 1885 by American architect William Le Baron Jenney.  The idea of skyscrapers became appealing to the rest of the world, by taking up less ground space in more densely populated areas as well as being symbols of power by dominating the skyline...giant "wu-wus".  A modern example of a skyscraper is the Gherkin Building in London's financial district.  We can see how skyscrapers have evolved from square stone buildings to more fluid forms using lots of glass, "dematerializing" the structure. 

Home Insurance Building, Chicago Illinois ca. 1885

Gherkin Building, London, England

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Pattern Language

Intimacy Gradient:
I plan on creating a design for the visiting scholar space that has an appropriate gradation of intimacy. Since literary readings and meetings will need to take place there, I need a formal space where the visiting writer can accommodate a small audience without the being intrusive in private areas.  I plan on a smooth transition from front porch (least intimate), to entrance hall, some sort of living room, kitchen and bathrooms, office, and bedroom (most intimate) in the back of the building in order to not encroach on the writer's privacy. This will also create a sound barrier to make back rooms quieter by being a greater distance from public, louder areas.

Indoor Sunlight:
Although I cannot change the orientation of the building itself, The most important rooms will already have south facing windows according to my plan for intimacy gradient. All of my public reception spaces will be at the south end of the building and therefore have south facing windows. This will provide a more cheerful environment for hosting events and adequate natural light for rooms where the most action will be happening.

Common Areas at the Heart:
I am planning on having a reception room just beyond the entrance area, the "heart" of the building. This is where scholars will meet and host events, and where guests will spend the most time. The reception room will be a pathway to all other rooms, so it will be convenient to navigate to from any space in the building. This room will feature plenty of seating and tables, that will be conducive to meetings and discussion. I want this space to flow seamlessly into the kitchen, so as the kitchen area seems to be part of the hearth of the space or can be closed off it need be.

Short Passages:
There will be a short passage from the common reception room into the private section of the house (office, bedroom, and bathroom). This passage will include shelving for many books, which will be a necessity to any writer. By attaching to both office and common room, the scholar will be able to retrieve books for both personal study and group reference and discussion. By doubling a passageway as a pseudo-library, space will be saved and function will be increased. One side of the passageway will be lined with windows to give light and to not feel too narrow or closed in.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blog Post 8: Nautilus

A nautilus shell illustrates how we can link together design movements across time periods as an outward spiral of architectural development. In my nautilus shell, I began with the gothic movement via the Amiens Cathedral, moving to the renaissance with the Florence Cathedral, and ending in the Baroque movement through the Place de Vosges of Paris, France.

The gothic movement had a rigid focus on religion, buildings were imposing and stretched vertically, there was not much color used in architecture, there was high detail and high emphasis on structure. We can see all of these influences in the Amiens Cathedral. 

The renaissance was all about creativity and moving away from strict religious elements of the gothic period. We see this with the use of color, like the terra cotta roof of the Florence Cathedral, and more fluid forms, like the domes of the cathedral. Height is emphasized by domes, but the building as a whole is not as vertical as the cathedral at Amiens.

The baroque movement is characterized by highly ornate architecture, influenced by both the high detail of the gothic movement and fluid artistic forms of the renaissance. The exception is that the lavish details emphasized the power of the king rather than the church. Architecture in this period stretched horizontally rather than vertically, as we can see in the Place de Vosges. Baroque design was influenced by the Enlightenment, using understandings of history, science, and rational thinking versus focusing on religion or art. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reading Response 8

Ching, A Global History of Architecture