Tag Archives: architecture

Architecture {12} ~ The Architectural Profession

There are many people involved in the architectural process – technologists and structural engineers, for instance. However, the chief proponent of the architectural process is, of course, the architect.

The architect plans, designs and manages the building process. So they have significant responsibility for public safety (buildings, once up, need to stay up). This is why becoming an architect can take a long time. In the UK, for instance, it takes seven years to become a fully qualified architect (though a BA or BSc in architecture can be completed in three years).

Architects tend to work mostly in small firms with little formal organisational structure, though medium sized firms with up to 50 employees may be organised departmentally between design, production, business development, finance and construction administration, etc.

The architectural profession developed out of the artisanal activities of stone masons and carpenters, who rose to the position of master builder. Until the dawn of the industrial revolution, there was little distinction between an architect and an engineer, but they were eventually separated by the widening gap between aesthetics and structural feasibility.

To become an architect, as well as a lengthy education in the subject, one must also acquire an appropriate licence, certificate or registration.

Architecture {11} ~ Architecture & The Environment

When designing a building, today’s architect will look into how to reduce carbon emissions during the building process as well as across the building’s entire lifespan. They will research ways in which to make use of renewable energy sources. They will seek out locally sourced materials to lower their carbon footprint caused by the logistics of moving materials.

All of this is not simply a case of ensuring for a more desirable ‘product’ for the architectural client, but is often also a matter of meeting regulations. The more environmentally aware the world becomes, the more stringent adherence to sustainable building processes becomes.

Architecture {9} ~ Post-Modern

One of the earliest reactions to Brutalist architecture began in the middle of the 20th century (the 50s being the widely acknowledged ‘decade zero’ for postmodernism) in the form of metaphoric architecture, which – as you might expect given the name – developed structures inspired by non-architectural forms.

These architectural simulacra (copies without originals) looked to animals as the inspiration for buildings (zoomorphic architecture) as well as merging construction materials with the natural environment to create biomorphic architecture.

This latter example opens the door to the wider context of architectural phenomenology, which manipulates architectural components to create an impact on the human senses related to our wider philosophical understanding of our place in the world.

Architecture {8} ~ Modernist

The revivalism of the early modern period led quickly to a reactionary architectural outpouring, the shockwaves of which persist to this day. Modernism focused on the production of better quality machine-made industrial designs and its most fearsomely avant-garde proponents were of the Bauhaus school, who exposed the inner workings of structures as aesthetic demonstrations of their functional quality: function became beauty.

Bauhaus led to Brutalist architecture in Great Britain, which was characterised by minimalist buildings that bared the building materials employed in their construction, and spread throughout the world.

Around the same time – the middle of the 20th Century – architectural modernism morphed into its American equivalent, International Style, two of the best-known examples of which were the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center until they were destroyed by terrorists on September 11th 2001.

Architecture {7} ~ The Industrial Revolution & Early Modern Architecture

The industrial revolution brought about a vast and rapid development of automation and machination, the likes of which had never before been seen in any civilisation. This revolution in engineering separated it from architecture, which became – more than ever – concerned with aesthetics – in particular, the new quality known as “picturesque”.

Ornamentation was afforded massively increased importance as a result of the simplicity (and low cost) afforded by increased automation. So, for the first time, history was knowingly architecturally referenced (or copied) in the likes of the Neo Gothic and Scottish baronial styles and as much emphasis was placed on the aesthetics of architectural drawings as on the viability of their design.

Architecture {6} ~ Medieval & Renaissance Architecture

Medieval architecture
Middle Ages architecture includes the styles known as pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and Gothic and is expressed across civil, military and religious buildings alike. One of the best-loved examples of medieval architecture is, of course, the French Gothic Notre Dame de Paris, built between 1160 AD and 1260 AD and devastated by a fire in 2019.

Some of the most powerful expressions of medieval architecture can be found in the many military fortifications that were erected all over Europe, from Beaumaris Castle in Wales to the Walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Renaissance architecture
The Renaissance occurs across the 15th and 16th Centuries AD and describes a period in which the concept of Humanism (that “Man is the measure of all things” according to Greek philosopher Protagoras) gained much traction throughout Europe. Early architectural examples include the recycling of the knowledge of how to make concrete and the style emphasised symmetry, geometry, proportion and regulation of parts with references to the classical antiquity of Roman architecture.

Architecture {5} ~ Asian & Islamic Architecture

Asian architectural developments occurred along very different lines to its European and North African counterparts. The religious precepts of Hinduism and, in turn, Buddhism gave way to buildings that, beginning around 300 BCE, attempted to express both the macrocosm (the universal, the infinite) and the microcosm (the immediacy of experience): the result being something akin to a sense of oneness with the natural surroundings.

Islamic architecture
By the 7th Century CE (or AD in Dionysian terms), the development of Islamic architecture demonstrated influence from both ancient Middle Eastern and Byzantine architecture and stretched, in line with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, from Turkey to North Africa, India, Spain and the Balkans.

Its characteristics include minarets, muqarnas, arabesque and what are tellingly known as onion domes (which, though they originate in Islamic architecture, are actually more commonly associated with Russian architecture).

Architecture {4} ~ Prehistoric & Ancient Architecture

Prehistoric architecture refers to those buildings and settlements that occurred prior to recorded evidence of their existence. Only via the process of archaeological excavation and analysis of artefacts have we been able to identify their presence.

The earliest examples include Neolithic settlements like Gōbekli Tepe in Southeastern Turkey and Skara Brae in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

Ancient architecture
Some of the richest examples of early civilisation are defined by their architecture, such as the one found in the Giza Plateau in Egypt – site of the Fourth Dynasty Giza Necropolis, where you will find the Great Pyramids of Khafre, Khufu and Menkaure, as well as The Great Sphinx of Giza – surely the most spectacular example of ancient architecture known today.

In Europe, Greek and Roman architecture (the latter of which was inspired by the former) of the 8th Century BC to the 6th Century AD was developed according to the Classical orders, which assembled parts subject to uniform proportions determined by what role each part played in the construction.

Architecture {3} ~ The History Of Architecture

Going back two millennia, to the early first Century AD, you will find the very earliest writings on the subject of architecture, which were penned by Roman architect Vitruvius who defines the qualities of a good building as durability, utility and beauty (which are, completely coincidentally, almost identical to Riluxa’s three criteria for defining luxury: durable, beautifully designed and designed for life, i.e. made to be used.)

Italian Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti developed Vitruvius’s ideas, suggesting that beauty is not as much about ornamental value as it is about proportion and that architecture must strive to achieve, and will be defined by its achievement of, ‘the golden mean’. The golden mean is when two parts of a whole – a and b – have a ratio that is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. The Great Mosque of Kairouan, in Tunisia, for instance, shows an application of the golden mean in the main part of its design. Architectural beauty was, therefore, based on inherent properties of an object, rather than on style, which was not developed until the 16th Century with the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects series of biographies by Giorgio Vasari.

Vasari’s writings were a European smash hit by the time of the 18th Century and had been translated into four different languages. This gave rise to a wider public interest in the discourse of architecture and, by 1836 with the publishing of English Architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s Contrasts, a dialogue concerning the aesthetic differences between the modern, industrial world and the idealised neo-medieval world of Gothic architecture was well underway.

19th Century English architectural and art critic John Ruskin was among the first to write on the philosophical implications of architectural beauty as an aid to “mental health, power and pleasure” and developed the idea that buildings must be “adorned” – not just well-proportioned – if they are to achieve aesthetic excellence. And, as the 19th Century turned into the 20th, a polemic on the difference between architecture and simple construction was first given attention via the writings of architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, who distinguished architecture by its ability to, “touch my heart… do me good. I am happy and I say: This is beautiful.”

Architecture {2} ~ The Philosophy Of Architecture

Architecture is a branch of the wider philosophy of art, which focuses on the aesthetic properties of buildings, i.e. perceived beauty within the built environment, as well as the logical semantics of architecture, i.e. the meaning of structures, such as what we can assume about the architect’s intention and what buildings’ implications are on the wider contexts of community, politics, history and so on.

The philosophy of architecture examines issues concerning the nature of architecture as an art form, design medium or other production/manufacturing process. It looks into architectural products: what they are; how they are distinguished from non-architectural objects; how we collectively refer to them. It also explores particular architectural properties, such as space, form, light and how they might be considered especially architectural qualities.

Finally, architectural philosophy concerns itself with the various types of architecture – how we consider instances and groupings of architecture occurring on the landscape. As well as how we form our basic understanding of architecture and architectural objects, alongside the social, cultural and moral implications of the practice of architecture and its objects.