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.


  1. Daniel, be careful of your facts and where you get them. Vernacular, as stated by dictionary.com refers to being the plain variety of language in everyday use by ordinary people. Think back to the in-class example of the bike shed verses the gothic cathedral- which was considered high class. Why did you choose this image and then go on to talk about the diversity of American culture and give in class examples such as the “teapot”? You seam to have a fair understanding about culture and its effects on design, however, I am not certain that this passage demonstrates your understanding with extreme clarity.

  2. Daniel, I believe you could have chosen a stronger image that back-ups your text and illustrates the theory unit. Although you did bring up class discussions I am not sure that your knowledge of the readings show in your post. I would caution you to do a little more research such as Vernacular and High Style as well as when you said that tradition is lost. Traditions are prominent within our culture and some of today's design approaches.

  3. Daniel, I'll admit that the image through me off also. I didn't read it being referenced anywhere in your essay. I do, however, appreciate you mentioning America as being a melting pot and how it's hard to find a distinct meaning of architecture sometimes. One of my favorite theories is commodity, firmness and delight so I also enjoyed your mention of that. I do not feel that your essay was the required length so that's something that can be worked on for next time. But all in all, I think you did an excellent job and I look forward to the next one.

  4. Daniel-
    I believe you make some great points and I see that you've thought it out carefully. I agree with you that each culture has its own perceptions of everything, in this case architecture. In my case I also agree with the theory of commodity, firmness, and delight as well. It is a great way pull architecture apart. Great job on your composition.