Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Getting Inside - Micro Environment

Accommodating Body

These are a series of engraving, fresco and paintings depicting St. Jerome in His Study dating from mid C-15 to early C-16 by various artists. Notice how an internal world of a scholar has been revealed by the painterly arrangement of St. Jerome at work: the symbols, the relations between inner and outer world, the external light and the illumination radiating from the thinking/writing subject. These images remind us of a room that is not just an enclosed space with openings.

It is essential for you to explore the "ways" to get inside of an architectonic object at this stage. Narrative constructed from the reading of your selected painting is just a beginning to launch a simultaneously inward and outward search for a project.

By sketching out the schematic plans and sections, certain level of abstraction can be obtained. By building a series of study models, you can test the limit of concepts generated by your idea. For example, if the idea is to bring forth: "a tower for tall and thin man with a fetish for collecting stamps"; would one tower-like object accompanied by several enclaves accommodate his need? Can it be a series of opposites held together by a vertical structure, sort of a metaphysical "tower"? Can tower be a topological relation instead of a type-form?

Since an architectonic object has always already incorporated the presence and absence of human body, the interior in this case is the figure of room: room as the represented body of a person. Other than constructing a conceptualized "room," an unique set of micro environment must be implemented internally. You can draw more inspiration by reading John Hollander's essay I've given you in class. Depending on the painting you've chosen, this "body" will be specific and personal instead of universal and abstract.

In the case of St. Jerome in His Study, the "body" is a fully clothed, male saint that "was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church".

Antonello da Messina, about 1475.

Albrecht Dürer, 1514

Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525.

Jan van Eyck, 
C. 1434.

Domenico Ghirlandalo, 1480.

Example - David McCallum, ARCH1201, 2008

"The paintings selected as inspiration/subject matter for project are Johannes Vermeer's 'The Astronomer' (1668), and 'The Geographer'(1669). The selection of two paintings is due to the noticeable connection between the two. Both paintings feature the same model, in the same room/location, using the same props and with a common focus of academic study.
Both feature similar forms of lighting; the only source of direct light is the window which the subject faces. This direct light diffuses throughout the room, replacing any stark shadows with a gentle 'glow', and creating a similar mood in both works. Architectural features of the room seen are somewhat plain and unassuming."

Narrative Development
"In my personal opinion and interpretation of the paintings, I sense a wistfulness to the 'scholar', the single figure created by the unification of both the 'astronomer' and 'geographer'. Held in the same place by his academic studies of charts and books, he faces out of the window to an exterior world of the practical application of his knowledge. However, he remains in his room to study and accumulate knowledge; cognisant of the world outside, but apart from it.
An approach of a 'scholar separated from the world and devoted to his studies' led to ideas of such imprisoned scholars as Galileo and, through the religious connections in that scholar's life, to ideas of the ascetic life of study as practiced by certain brotherhoods of monks. Ultimately, the following narrative was settled upon as the basis of the project;"

"A scholar is contained in a mountaintop cell, content in his own thoughts. Wistfulness for the unattainable, unapproachable world outside is sated somewhat by his desire for academic study, and his ability to live an ascetic life."

Influences on the Project
"After consulation with my tutor on the narrative idea, I was advised to research into the depiction in art of St. Jerome, the scholar who translated the Vulgate. He is known somewhat as the 'patron' of theological learning and lived an ascetic life of scholarship. Often he is depicted at study in an area akin to a monk's cell, hunched over in an alcove or area of study separate from the architecture around him."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How To Start?

P2 - Room and Narrative

We will discuss one aspect of interpreting and translating pictorial suggestions "accumulated" in Piranesi's Imaginary Prisons (Plate VI) into several possible spatial relations in plan. 

Notice that this is only one of the many "attempts" to draw out the 
architectural possibilities either inspired by or embedded in a piece of
art works.

(Valentina Ricciuti, "Architectural Scripts," lotus 127.)



Theme 1 - The Cutting

"In my buildings, walls play a dual role, serving both to reject and affirm. By positioning a number of walls at certain intervals, I create openings. Walls are freed from the simple role of closure and are given a new objective. They are calculated to accept even as they reject. The amorphous and immaterial elements of wind, sunlight, sky, and landscape are cut out and appropriated by walls which serve as agents of the internal world. These elements are assimilated as aspects of the architectural space.

This tense relationship between inside and outside is based on the act of cutting (as with a sword), which to the Japanese is not cruel and destructive but is instead sacred; it is a ceremonial act symbolizing a new disclosure. To the Japanese this act has become an end in itself. It provides a spiritual focus both in space and time. In that tense moment, an object
loses its definition and its individual and basic character becomes manifest.

Walls "cut" into sky, sunlight, wind, and landscape at every instant, and the architecture reverberates to this continual demonstration of power. The more austere the wall, even to the point of being cold, the more it speaks to us. At times it is a sharp weapon menacing us. At times it is a mirror in which landscape and sunlight are dimly reflected.

Light that diffuses around a corer and gathers in the general darkness contrasts strongly with direct light. With the passage of time these two "lights" blend and enrich the space.

Man and nature, mediated by architecture, meet."  Tadao Ando, Perspecta 25 (1989).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening-Variations of a Theme

Wall Section With Opening(s):
Drawing of a handle for ceremonial door of Mill Owner's Association Building, Ahmedabad, Le Corbusier(1954).

Section through niche Norte-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Le Corbusier (1950-54).

Norte-Dame, Cathedral of Amiens (1220-1269): wall system, vaulting and buttressing.

Light Revealed, or, How To Stage Light:
Norte-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Le Corbusier (1950-54).

"Windows serve to admit light, 'a little, much, or not at all,' and to see outside. There are windows in sleeping cars which close hermetically or can be opened at will; there are the great windows of modern café which close hermetically or can be entirely opened by means of a handle which causes them to disappear below ground; there are the windows in dinning cars which have little louvers opening to admit air 'a little, much, or not at all,' there is modern plate glass which has replaced bottle glass and small panes; there are roll shutters which can be lowered gradually and will keep out the light at will according to the space of their slats." Le Corbusier, Toward a New Architecture (1923/1982).

"a window I made for lighting, not for ventilation." Le Corbusier (1930/1991)

Light Figured
Norte-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Le Corbusier (1950-54).

Le Corbusier's desk in penthouse, 24 Rue Nungesser et Coli (1934).

GlazingRietveld Schröder House, Gerrit Rietveld (1924-25).

Openings Framed

Norte-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, Le Corbusier (1950-54).

"It is through the doors of
open eyes that looks
exchanged have led to
the flash of communion."

Le Corbusier, Le Poéme de l'angle droit, section D3, Fusion (1955/1989/1990).

Hinged - Neither Wall Nor Opening

Steven Holl, Storefront for Art and Architecture, NYC (1992).

Glenn Murcutt & Wendy Lewin, Arthur & Yvonne Boyd Centre (1996-99).