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Architecture: Building Spaces

An overview of basic principles of architecture and some contemporary architectual concepts

Leon Loreaux

on 2 September 2014

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Transcript of Architecture: Building Spaces

For as long as people have been creating buildings, people have been designing them. The following things are the main concerns when considering building design:
Walter Gropius
Le Corbusier
Ludwig Mies
van der Rohe

Was a Roman and architect whose writing is the first known to specifically addressing significant formalised ideas of architecture:
Giorgio Vasari was a painter and an architect. He is most well known today for his critical and historical writing about both disciplines. In fact, his work today is known as the foundation of art writing today.
Although an air of "rebirth" had been in the air for a long time, Vasari coined the term "Renaissance".
The notion of what beauty was remained a fairly abstract idea for a long time. There were numerous ways to recognise beauty in art and architecture such as the 'Golden Mean'. This was a way to create proportion of objects and paintings based on the aesthetics of the human form.
'A thing is determined by its essence. In order to design it so that it functions correctly – a vessel, a chair, a building – its essence must first be researched; for it is to serve its purpose perfectly, that is to say, perform its functions practically, be durable, reasonably priced and 'beautiful'. This research into essence leads to the result that forms are created by determined consideration of all modern manufacturing methods, constructions and materials that deviate from tradition and often seem unfamiliar and surprising …"
Walter Gropius (1926),
Gropius became the master of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar. He transformed the school and changed the name to Bauhaus. The students of Bauhaus were taught to create new and functional designs in all fields using modern and industrial materials. They had an extremely strong focus on interdisciplinary fields including art, archtitecture, design and theatre.
The golden ratio is a number equal to approximately 1.61803399. When one draws a rectangle with the short side equal to 1, the other side will equal that number. This rectangle can be worked out using only a compas and a ruler.
This ratio can also be worked out using the Fibonacci Sequence. This sequence starts at 1 and then you add 1. From there, you add every two sequential numbers like so: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 and so on. It is represented visually like this:
This pattern appears everywhere in nature
The Bauhaus has retained its modernity right up to the present day because it consistently focused on the social effects of creativity and design, because it regularly crossed the traditional dividing lines between the different genres, adopting an interdisciplinary approach
Rasin Building, Prague
Frank Gehry
The Villa Savoye demonstrates Corbusier's 5 basic principles of his designs.
1.The pilotis, or ground-level supporting columns, elevate the building from the damp earth allowing the garden to flow beneath.
2.A flat roof terrace reclaims the area of the building site for domestic purposes, including a garden area. This area is planted to compensate for the green space consumed by the land the building sits on.
Once a building is made, it must last a long time.
Traditionally, this is thought of as being the longer the better.
The Pantheon in Rome is an excellent example of how good design contributes to a durable, and highly functional space. Today, almost 2000 years after its construction, it remains the largest unreinforced dome in the world
Today, the longevity of a building is factored against cost, and function.
The design of a building should reflect its function. For example, a bedroom should be large enough to accommodate a large varitey of beds. A conference room should easy access in and out of the room.
Any space should be easy to use for the purpose it was designed for. A building that has little thought in terms of architecture can be purely functional.
True architecture will also consider one important factor:
Gropius and the Bauhaus were interested in a severely simple style which eliminated surface decoration and featured extensive use of glass.
This school of thought was interested in beauty being synonymous with simplicity and decoration being a mere distraction.
Gropius was interested in raising the level of all designed objects by combining art and industry
“Architecture begins where engineering ends.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright practiced what is termed, "Organic Architecture. This means that his buildings are designed in direct response to the natural environment. For example, a building in a forest would rely on a heavy use of wood, or a building on a desert plain would have a open floor plan and use a lot of stone
He designed every aspect of his buildings including the furniture and colours of the walls.
He had an extremely prolific career having designed over 1000 structures with over 500 being built.
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the first achitects to even custom design the light fittings to fit with his designs
Giorgio Vasari was the first person to formalise notions of what defined beauty.
Le Corbusier wrote what he called his Modulor System to govern the proportion of his architecture. He directly used the golden ration in this system.
He saw the Modulor system as a continuation of the long tradition of Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci and architect, Leon Battista Alberti, among others who utilised the proportions of the human body to improve the appearance and function of architecture.
Corbusier also used other naturally occurring measurements such as the Fibonacci sequence.
Le Corbusier was not content with simply designing modern buildings, he had visions of whole cities that could be rebuilt to cope with overcrowded conditions.
These spaces had elevated walkways and roads to seperate vehicular and pedestrian traffic. He saw cars as the great future of travel and believed cities should be redesigned to adequately accommodate them.
This is Corbusier's design called the for the radical reconstruction of Paris. He proposed bulldozing a large proportion of the city and completely rebuilding it to solve the housing crisis that was present.
He proposed that within a residential building, all amenities and necessities should be incorporated into the one building. Schools, shops, gyms and all the community's needs would be all in the same structure along with housing.
was that he believed in the existence of 'pure space'. This was a concept that had already been established by philosophers. This meant that there could exist spaces which were pleasing to the eye at a basic human level and not on style. He believed that proportion, scale, size and the formal elements of design should be based around the proportions of the human body.
Le Corbusier's work can be summarised by stating that he saw a building as 'a machine' for living in. He based his designs on techology and purity, advocating the removal of decorative elements
Critical position means a philosophical or theoretical position that governs or guides an architect's work
Le Corbusier's critical position
3.The free floor plan, made possible by the elimination of load-bearing walls, consisting instead of partitions placed where they are needed - without being required to match up the walls on the adjoining levels
4.Horizontal 'strip' windows provide even illumination and ventilation as well as a panoramic view of the surrounding land
5.The freely-designed facade, unconstrained by load-bearing considerations, consists of a thin skin of wall and windows.
"Here we will build a monument dedicated to nature and we will make it our lives' purpose."
The heaviness of the walls and roof is misleading. In Le Corbusier's words,

"The shell has been put on walls which are absurdly but practically thick. Inside them however are reinforced concrete columns. The shell will rest on these columns but it will not touch the wall. A horizontal crack of light 10cm wide will amaze."
Frank Gehry is an excellent example of what embodies a typical cutting-edge contemporary architect. His work draws upon the influence of important architectual ideas such as the ones presented here. His style is loose, confronting, interesting and unique. He uses technoligically contemporary materials in his designs and the form of his buildings often reflect their function - as do the aesthetics of his buildings.
Mies van der Rohe is regarded as one of the great modern masters of architecture. He pioneered some extremely influential stylistic concepts. His designs extensively used industrial steel and plate glass to define spaces.
He is famous for his sayings, "less is more" and "God is in the details". These almost contradictory statements are a fairly succinct way to sum up his critical postition.
“Every physical element has been distilled to its irreducible essence. The interior is unprecedentedly transparent to the surrounding site, and also unprecedentedly uncluttered in itself. All of the paraphernalia of traditional living –rooms, walls, doors, interior trim, loose furniture, pictures on walls, even personal possessions – have been virtually abolished in a puritanical vision of simplified, transcendental existence. Mies had finally achieved a goal towards which he had been feeling his way for three decades."
In 1930, van der Rohe became director of the Dessau Bauhaus, remaining in that position until the Bauhaus was forcibly closed by the National Socialist government in 1933.
“In its simplest form architecture is rooted in entirely functional considerations, but it can reach up through all degrees of value to the highest sphere of spiritual existence into the realm of pure art.”
His practice was to begin with functional considerations of structure and materials, then to refine the detailing and expression of those materials until they transcended their technical origins to become a pure art of structure and space.
The Barcelona Pavillion
Gehry can roughly be aligned to the concepts of Deconstructivism which is a play on the term "Constructivism" a Russian Modernist movement. It is sometimes called "post-structuralist" in because it tends to try to break definitions of structural rules. In architecture, it differs from modernist concepts through its criticism of accepted ideals such as "form follows function"
His work seems also to disregard certain conventions of architecture and instead adopts a more stylistic, Postmodern standpoint. His designs function almost as sculptures in their own right as well as the buildings they are in a utilitarian sense.
With such innovative and sculpturally ambitious designs, Gehry employs a dynamic, loose, almost exploding aesthetic. The completion of his work is not just challenging visually, but also structurally - in engineering terms.
Architecture: Building Space
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