>US2 – Unit two summary – Reverberations

>Unit Two – Reverberations

Searching.  This is the word that comes to mind when looking back through the second unit of the semester.  Everyone is searching for the next architectural style, the new thing, the best, the biggest, the most modern.  In our previous unit we looked at foundations, setting the first stones, learning and making mistakes.  This unit is the next level and builds upon the first.  For all these new styles to be developed one thing is necessary, money.  During this time period the church has the greatest where with all to build buildings.  Therefore;  we study a great deal of churches.

Cathedrals stand out in the west and are the focus for Roth.  Their massive size, their awe inspiring height, the great use of glass, and stone.  They are solid, stable, and enlightening.  Exactly what partitioners are looking for during this scary time to be alive.  Fear makes everything the church does possible.  We examined the progression of styles of churches from early romanesque buildings, which are heavy and dark, to the high gothic buildings that are light and airy.  We compared these structures to music and the music that would have been played in the cathedrals when they were being built.  The music and the architecture hold a very close bond and we decided that architecture is indeed frozen music.  When we look to the east we see a more harmonious evolution of temple design, which Ching focuses on.  In india we see the shikara, the hindu cosmos.  This idea leads the eye all around the building, constant motion, with no one place to settle.  The styles in the east also relate to the music they are playing. 

The east and the west are connected by this concept as well as the concept of Regional Dialects.  Stylistically buildings are starting to speak a similar language, yet their dialects are different.  Materials used in the building showcase this the best.  A prime example is the Duomo in Florence Italy with it’s clay tile roof,  which is the roofing choice of the region.  For these buildings to have a similar language means that people are now traveling. 

When people travel they need a map to help them get where they are going.  In the map’s oldest form we use the “method of Loci.”  This puts everything in spatial terms, think cognitive, mental, or mind map here.  Everything is centralized around the one and only, you, as long as you’re the church!  Most of the early maps represent a small area and are christian based. They quickly expand and start to become world maps which would indicate world exploration.  This also indicates an enlightened population, not only in the people, but, also in the architecture or places.  Through this enlightening process we create a set of rules, based on the past and what did not work in the past.  In the west we focus on moving forward, putting man in the center,  and strive for harmony and order in all things. Think calm, serene spaces where individuals stand separate.  In the  east we focus on community needs, sustainability, and maintaining continuity with the past.  Overall, we are still searching for what is modern.

In an effort to find the next set of modern ideas, we break all the rules we have just made in the west.  We examine the Baroque period where we stand as a player in the scene.  We engage all the senses and employ drama in everything.  Then we take these ideas even further, breaking all the rules of the renaissance, with the evolution of Rococo.  Everything is adorned, decorated, and touched.

So far we have made lots of progress.  We know what does and what does not work.  We have created rules, broken rules, lost all our knowledge and regained it.  Things are pretty good on the home front so now it’s time for us to go exploring and expand our world.  Colonial expansion begins and we begin to spread our ideals everywhere we go.    This means change, lots of change, which leads to revolution.  Small things start becoming more important.  Collecting wealth and showing it off is important.  Personal possessions start to show worldliness and having means.  Chairs are seen in sets.  It’s expensive to make a chair, even more expensive to make a matching pair.  Sets of 6, 8, or more make a very big statement.  Multiples of items become somewhat easier to obtain with the onset of the Industrial revolution.  This takes us to a new set of ideals with mass production.  Think tinker toys and erector sets.  Everything that was once impossible and unattainable will start to be available for everyone.  Styles become more simple and basic again.  We have a new set of rules to write now.  It’s almost like we are starting over, or is it just another revolution in the design process? 

Revolutions are constant in our world;  from person, to object, to space, to building, to place.  We are surrounded by revolution on a daily basis.  It’s part of our quest to be modern.  Our constant need to search for what is modern creates revolution in our lives.  During the past unit we have explored the creation of modern.  Through this we have come to understand that all buildings when built embody what modern is.


The image above is of the Galleria Vittorio in Milan which opened in 1867.  When it opened ” it was seen as an engineering and urban marvel.” (Ching 665)  To me this building exemplifies the reverberations unit.  The rules are followed and the rules are broken here.  Classical facade layout has been practiced.  However; interior elements, like frescos now appear on the exterior facade, domes reserved for the church are now in the shopping mall, streets are covered, not open and the roof is now glass and you can see through it. Multiple styles have been combined with new technologies to create a modern space for shopping.  We still use this format today for a mall, yet if we look closely we see new malls now having outdoor street sections, revolution…..

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