Sunday, September 19, 2010

Egypt, Greece, and Rome summary

The Egyptians believed in having a permanent structure for their afterlife. The cities themselves were located around the Nile river, on the east are cities of the living in which they normally reside and on the west were the tombs of the dead, just like the sun raises on the east and rests at the west which clearly set the locations of these structures. The importance of their society is how their beliefs influenced how they placed and designed their structures. They believed that the bigger the pyramid the more power that pharaoh had, and since it was made out of limestone it would last for eternity. To the Egyptians everything was to remain static.

The Greeks believed in logic. They strive for perfection, and constantly looked for balance and proportion. To them seeking and having everything in harmony was ideal in their society. They borrowed elements from Egyptian architecture and transformed them to fit into their architecture. One main example is the over sized, over decorated, stylized columns used in the Hypostyle hall taken from the Egyptians and changed into balanced, symmetrical columns in Greek architecture. The Egyptians became the prototype for the Greeks leaving the Greeks to be the archetype.

The Romans, like the Greeks, strive for perfection. However what was different about them is that they were like the hybrid. They took ideas from both the Egyptians and Greeks. They took the concept of having balance, symmetry, and columns from the Greeks and added decorative ornamentation just like what the Egyptians did in their structures. The Romans did not settle for just designing what past societies designed but they pursued for something more and thus the technological breakthrough of the arch. The Romans combined both societies architectural forms and making them their own.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading Comp. 2

1. I agree with Hersey and his theory of how the sacrifice ritual is shown in Greek architecture. Hersey starts off by explaining how the Greeks used to sacrifice animals to their Gods and how each God had there own specific, or in this case, holy tree where they would place the sacrifice. He states that the trees would have later become the columns that in time led to hold up the roof, then as a whole would become the temple. Each part of the temple deals with a certain part of the ritual. For example, the head of the animal are shown in some of the Greek motifs which represent the animal sacrificed in this ritual. The column flutes represent the blood vessels in which the blood was properly drained from the animal. The whole temple itself stood for an engraved sacrifice ritual for others to see and somehow mimic in later time. The ritual itself has a precise way of execution, and is strived to be done right the first time. In a way it is how the Greeks believed their architecture should be, balanced and proportional. If the structure it self was not proportional then it would not be correct.

2. The lesson I extracted from Macauley was that anyone could and can lie about anything. In this case the lies where of an archeological discovery of a burial ground. The archeologist miss-interpreted everything that he saw, he made up a whole story of what the bodies could have been like and about how they could have possibly lived. This is true about what we sometimes read on the internet. The person Macauley could have been describing as an archeologist could be that one person setting behind there keyboard and typing anything they want and publishing on the web, mainly Wikipedia. A way in which I can personally avoid reading false evidence is by first looking at scholar websites, and researching the websites that I may look at, and checking if they are up to date. Another way is to cross-reference, if the same information is seen in about four or more different websites and different publishers, the information may most likely be correct. All it takes is a little time to do a bit more research to get the facts.

3. The temple of Hatshepsut has a different form, scale and location than of the pyramids. The temple is first horizontal and rectangular on the plain, while the pyramids are stacked to reach the heavens. Another difference is the clear entrance of the temple while the pyramids hide its own. The functionality of the two has a commonality; they were both designed in honor of a great pharaoh and are forever immortalized by its structure. A reason why the temple of Hatshepsut is a different form of funerary is the gender difference. When one just looks at the differences between a male and a female, they notice that a male seems to be shut off from others socially, they tend to hide their emotions, and therefore the pyramids hid its entrance form the world. A female on the other hand is more sociable and opening to others, therefore the temple has a clear entrance for all to see. The locations of these monuments are different as well. The pyramids are placed in the dessert for all who pass it to see and remember the great pharaohs who once ruled the empire. The pyramids themselves symbolized power in society. Queen Hatshepsut was greatly known for uniting the kingdoms; this could explain the horizontal form of the structure, when one thinks of unifying two things you think of being in one common ground. The temple compared to the pyramids is smaller in scale, however due to its location it stands out, even though it is hidden between the mountains terrain. Even though she was a powerful ruler she did not express it the way the previous pharaohs did, and because of that some can say that even if the scale is not vertically big, it is still a great impact in this society. In this case gender does play a big part on design.

Temple of Athena Nike: Greek
Temple of Hatshepsut: Egyptian

4. The Temple of Hatshepsut: Egyptian and the Temple of Athena Nike: Greek
Both temples are at a smaller scale compared to there surroundings. Hatshepsut is located near mountains that hide the monument. The temple of Athena Nike is smaller in scale than the other structures. Both structures are emphasized in there locations. Hatshepsut is placed horizontally in the front creating a contrast with its surroundings; Athena Nike is placed at the front of Acropolis making it the first structure that people see as they enter the city. Egyptian architecture in general could be considered the prototype to Greek architecture. Both structures have balance and symmetry when seen. The difference is the concept of the societies and how they used the buildings. Both Egyptian and Greek civilizations have a polytheistic religion. The temple of Hatshepsut has the Egyptian concept of eternal life and was also used a burial for the Queen. The temple of Athena Nike was a just a temple for Nike, the Greeks believed in creating immortality in their structures and not for them because they thought of life of someday ending. Both honor these females from their civilizations.
4.I believe that the reason for Egyptian furniture being so lightweight compared to the pyramids is that it is a temporary component in a person’s lifetime, while the pyramids where to be permanent. The furniture took on the human’s characteristic of having two lives; it was used while they were alive and taken with them in their afterlife. The furniture had to be lightweight if they were planning to place it in the pyramids, it had to be portable. The furniture itself represented communality, as the pyramids was more ritualistic. This also brings up the message of furniture being just ordinary and the pyramids being extraordinary.

5.I believe that the reason for Egyptian furniture being so lightweight compared to the pyramids is that it is a temporary component in a person’s lifetime, while the pyramids where to be permanent. The furniture took on the human’s characteristic of having two lives; it was used while they were alive and taken with them in their afterlife. The furniture had to be lightweight if they were planning to place it in the pyramids, it had to be portable. The furniture itself represented communality, as the pyramids was more ritualistic. This also brings up the message of furniture being just ordinary and the pyramids being extraordinary.

6. The urns seem to tell a story of everyday, or even a myth of Greek life. The role between male and female seems to be uneven, although Greek gods and goddesses were equal; the society seems to have the woman depicted as the servant to the man. It is as if the urns themselves become a chapter in the Greek life, forever holding a piece of history.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Point: Theories

In class we have been viewing and forming our own opinions about everyday architecture. The first question that got me thinking about architecture was: what is the difference between a building and a shed? Then once that question was brought up another one replaced it: Is it not both considered architecture? The overall question is: what separates a structure from being vernacular rather than a High-style? Vernacular being very important in society and High-style being taken for granted. In class we have discussed on how Hall’s book, The Hidden Dimension, defines how space is used due to different cultures. Which in fact is very true; once you begin to think about how one uses a space. In his theory we begin to think about how architecture begins to reflect our own thoughts. For example roman architecture began to become the basis of all architecture. Palladio was greatly influenced by the symmetry and how the structures itself were in harmony and that was greatly shown within his own work.
This then brings up the question, what makes a great building? Sir Henry Wotton gave three criteria’s in which a perfect building would have commodity, firmness and delight. However each person would have their own opinions about which building would fit these criteria’s. This relates back to how each culture perceives a space. For example, what I may think of a building to meet all three, another person might think that it will only fit one or two of the specifications.
Being apart of a mixed cultural society, America, we have no set culture and each architectural structure might have a different significance to different people. Tradition has disappeared; therefore each building has a loss of common shared value. Because culture has a lot to do with how we see a space or an object, it tends to have a double meaning in our own society. An example that was given to use was tea pot. The speculation came about when one starts to wonder why all teapots, many in different parts of the world, looked alike. It is speculated that it takes the form of a mother’s breast in which holds warm milk. An example used in class was the difference in which a slave and a master and their view on a teapot. This simple teapot brought double meaning, once thought of just a container to place warm water, meant oppression to others. So each subculture has a different view on how they connect mentally, emotionally to an object or space. Even if the designer had none of this in mind to begin with, it did affect how people reacted because of how society used them. The first point of this class I guess is to get us to think about how we look at a space, an object and or building and try to generate our own opinions and theories about it. However they have to be completely thought out and well supported with evidence to form a good theory.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reading Comp.

1.) I believe that a toilet is an object that fits Wotton’s definition of commodity, firmness, and delight. It fits the definition of commodity because it has one function throughout its lifespan, and that is to provide a place to sit-and-or-stand to be able to dispose of unmentionables. It also is made of clay then covered in gloss to make it waterproof, which falls into the definition of firmness. But another way to see it as firmness is that a toilet’s design is one that has not changed much over the years. It may very of what materials it is made of, but the function and the use of one maintains the same. Delight is quite difficult to explain, this being because many people take it for granted, having been in a country in which sometimes there might be no toilet, and it is a delight to just have one. It is mostly because we are used to using one, that without one, it can be a bit unbearable. This is way I believe the toilet meets Wotton’s definition.

2.) 20design 2000079.jpg From the textile above I see unity, balance and symmetry all of which could have been influenced by Chinese concepts. By having six wheels it gives a since of balance and unity because of circles and also the lines in the background that blend in with each other. When one thinks about a circle you get the sense of compilation. Symmetry is found by the repetitive shapes throughout the background. The five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water could be explained by the abstract shapes and the colors used in the textile. Wood being the brown that is slightly seen in the circles and is the color of the line used to enclose the circle. Fire being abstracted into the multiple little colorful balls of flame in the background. Earth being the green color used in each circle and also represented in the abstracted flower shape. Metal being the lines that bend in the background, showing that in order to bend them they must go through fire. Water being the gray-blue used throughout the whole textile. This whole piece is similar to the Chrysanthemum motif.

3.) Being a part of two cultures I am able to look at both sides of a coin. It is generally said that a citizen of the U.S. might feel the need to have more space. If one actually takes the time to think about it, it is mostly perceived as a social class, where the richer one is the bigger the house, therefore the more space one has. Due to that concept, one tries to strive for a bigger and personal space. Now this is a little different in the Hispanic culture. It is very uncommon for a Hispanic to be wanting space, mostly because it is not viewed as just your space because you share the space that you are in. The classroom in which class is held is large enough for all of the students to be in. However, since we are placed in the first four rows it is a bit uncomfortable because we are not used to being crammed all together. We seem to have gotten accustomed to having at least one seat in between one another. But each of us has its own view on how comfortable we feel within a space.

The Meditation Room inside the Elliot University Center (EUC), UNC-Greensboro

3.) “If one room can alter how we feel, if our happiness can hang on the colour of the walls or the shape of the door, what will happen to us in most of the places we are forced to inhabit?” – Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

The Mediation Room inside the Elliot University Center, I feel has what makes a person feel “happy”. The space seems to change the mood, in which you are in before you enter. The interior itself is lit in a way that the walls become like frozen water that divide up the space. When one thinks of serenity, it is this room. Colour, material, and lighting has a lot to do with how we perceive a space. However, each person will have its own opinions on what they feel is delightful, and what makes them happy.