The Architectural Theory of Semiotics

This essay will examine the architectural theory of semiotics and its relationship to the built work of Peter Eisenman, specifically his project titled House VI. This essay will define the theory of semiotics from Saussure through to Chomsky. It will then go on to describe how Peter Eisenman, influenced by the writings of Noam Chomsky would apply semiotic linguistic principles to his design process namely those of deep structure and also syntactic transformational; expression. In doing so Peter Eisenman would set architecture on the path towards breaking free from drawing as the main vehicle for design.

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Semiotics in architecture is the search for a deeper discourse with the built environment, a way of understanding the rich array of metaphor, ambiguity, rhetorical nuance and metonymy that can occur in architectural meaning. A meaning that does not change and evolve over time dependant on specific context, convention or simple accidents.[1] It is the attempt at better understanding of just how a building communicates.
The general study of signs was known as semiology in Europe and semiotics in the United States, it is these theories that have been applied to graphic and visual communication. Both the theories of semiology and semiotics appeared around the same time in the early 1900’s. This new scientific approach to language and signs was proposed in Europe by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) and parallel to this in the United States by Charles Sander Peirce (1839-1914). Both were looking at the fundamental building blocks and structure of language, and the necessary conditions for language to exist.[2]
Ferdinand de Saussure theorised the synchronic approach, that language should not only be looked at in its historical context but also in how it relates to a specific moment independent of its developmental context.[3] Differentiating between language as a system of enabling communication and the way language is used by individuals through speech. Saussure sought to discover and better understand the underlying principles of language, the structure and signs that all languages share.[4]
Both Saussure and Peirce sought to understand the structure of signs, looking at the structure would facilitate a better understanding of how meaning was extracted from a sign.
Peirce looked at the relationships of the structures as a way of categorising the signs.[5]The categories that Peirce divided signs into were Icon, Index and Symbol. An Icon bears a physical resemblance to the thing it represents, an Index represents a direct link between sign and object, and a Symbol relies purely upon the reader of the sign having learnt the connection to the meaning.
Saussure determined the meaning of a sign by using what he called ‘value’. What was important for Saussure was the relationship between signs in the same system. He took a positive versus negative approach judging a sign by not only what it means but what it doesn’t mean in relation to something else. For example a book is not a magazine or film.[6]
Semiotics looks at the oppositional relationship of things as key to communication and cognition, undestanding something by understanding what it is not.[7]This signification helps to categorise reality so we can understand it. However Saussure was only concerned with language at not the part of the reader of language in the process, which contrasts with Peirce who believed that the sign is affected by the person who is reading the sign.
It would be Roland Barthes in the 1960’s who would take this theoretical idea forward. Barthes saw the science of signs as encompassing a much broader range of systems than just language. Barthes linked semiotics to any system of signs no matter the content or limits of that system. Semiotic meaning can be derived from images, sounds, gestures and objects. The system of signification could cover many forms of social and ritual convention.[8] The semiotic theories would also start to link with architecture. Architecture being similar to language in that it too is system of signs. A very obvious example of this would be to compare a house to a hospital, both buildings give off different signs as to their function and purpose. Our ability to read this purpose occurs much in the same way as a book is read and understood.[9]
“To distinguish architecture from building requires an intentional sign which suggests that a wall is doing something more than literally sheltering, supporting, enclosing; it must embody a significance which projects and sustains the idea of “wallness” beyond mere use, function, or extrinsic allusion. Thus its paradoxical nature: the sign must overcome use and extrinsic significance to be admitted as architecture; but on the other hand, without use, function, and the existence of extrinsic meaning there would be no conditions which would require such an intentional act of overcoming.”[10]
The crossover of linguistic semiotic theory with architecture would occur more thoroughly around 1966 when Peter Eisenman began looking at the work of Noam Chomsky.[11] Eisenman at the time viewed both language and architecture and being made up of three semiotic categories, these being semantics, pragmatics and syntactics. These three categories contain similarities to Peirce and his division of signs into icon, index and symbol. Semantics refers to the relationship between form and icon, pragmatics – form to function and syntactics the relationship of physical form to conceptual space.[12]Eisenman was also interested in another idea closely related to the early theories of semiotics, that of structuralism. Using structuralist principles to go beyond function in architecture to discover the innate order of things, subverting simplistic readings of space by adding complexity through architectural semiotics.[13]
It was through the reading of Noam Chomsky that the idea of deep structure became apparent to Eisenman as a useful means of investigating architecture. This syntactical opposition of line, plane and volume generated a physical architecture from a series of abstract rules. The essence of Eisenman’s theoretical musings at this time would be distilled into his Houses project. The most thorough exploration of this would occur in House VI.
House VI was commissioned by Suzanne and Dick Frank. A small building, it would be one of Peter Eisenman’s first built works. Construction would take place between 1972 and 1975.[14] The building acts as a record of the abstract series of rules used in the process of design, with the Chomsky influenced theories of syntax and deep structure crucial to the transformative process. The building would become the manifestation of a system of relationships, with the system acting as generator of both form and meaning. The semantic generator of form is replaced by the syntactic. [15]The axonometric drawings don’t just represent the house they become the house. As Eisenman states “The diagrams for House VI are symbiotic with its reality; the house is not an object in the traditional sense – that is the result of a process-but more accurately a record of a process.”[16]
The priority of the drawings in considering the house remove the pressure placed upon a finished building to deliver complete meaning. The building forms only a part of the conversation, as technical drawings are used to enhance the experience. Drawings and finished building-the entire process- should be viewed holistically, each providing an important summation of the architectural intent.[17]
The axonometric drawings reveal the starting point for the design of House VI and the syntactic structure that these would form. The starting point is a cube divided by a four square and nine square grid. Eisenman then starts a series of simple movements of this grid in the process creating two centres. The hierarchy of these overlayed patterns develops the expressive interrelationship.[18]However rather than a further refining of this relationship, instead Eisenman materialises the expressions of the inherent geometries through axonometric sketches which turn the competing axes of the four and nine square grid into walls or voids cutting through the building.[19]
In House VI Eisenman attempts to move away from the idea of function as the driving narrative of design, and along with this the overarching human scale design considerations which restrict architecture. This moves Eisenman towards an autonomous architecture, a conceptual matrix[20] that fragments the relationship between concept and percept. House VI seeks to place the viewer not at the end point of design but instead engaged actively in continual intrepretation and reinterpretation of process.
This engagement with the viewer enables a reanimation of the process, a conversation between the viewer and the building that undermines the physicality of House VI as an object instead making it an active part of its surroundings. The concept at odds with the viewers historical perception of a general solidity normally associated with building.[21]
Eisenman attempted to introduce an architectural system free of external reference, autonomous, not restricted by function and the classical notion of architecture as referential to the human body. Eisenman saw traditional architectures primary concerns being semantic through the linking of physical indicators to the external meaning, form and function. He viewed the possiblities of a semantic architecture as having been exhausted by both modernist and classical architecture. To unlock new variations in architecture the syntactic dimension needed to played with. Semantic architecture sought solutions to problems and was dependent on preconceived external requirements.[22]Through his exploration of linguistic theory the semantic became absorbed by the syntactic.
It was Eisenman interest in Noam Chomsky – as mentioned earlier – that gave him the knowledge base to theorise a generation of form previously undiscovered by both classicist and modernist architecture. Form in its syntactic nature led to an antifunctionalism that enclosed any meaning generated by the form back within itself, creating an interplay of oppositions and empty positions.[23]
House VI can almost be seen as design itself, with the rules the of transformational process inscribed within the final object. What these explorations into syntax sought to achieve was a design not limited by cultural preconceptions of function. These preconceptions Eisenman theorised were limiting the developmental possibilities of architecture. How could a design be achieved without being slave to the aesthetic experiences of the architect? Removing ego would allow for an exploration into multiple manipulations never previously conceived.
Eisenman’s work is driven by the continual process of thinking and rethinking both philosophy and architecture. It is an attempt to broaden the critical search for inspiration away from the architectural precedent by incorporating other fields of inquiry into the discussion. This reactivation of architectural dislocation moves it away from the complacent relationship of tradition, extending the possible search parameters of occupiable form.[24] The architectural development of Eisenman as an architect can be seen a continued battle against complacency in the profession.
Eisenman sees House VI as still having the ability to provide shelter, the main driving function of the house. However this need is not pushed to the point of romanticism and nostalgia. The living room does not require the need to have a beautiful view, columns in the dining area do not hinder any activity in that area nor do they aid functionally or decoratively the area. The design of House VI is not driven by the need to accommodate every whim of its occupants, it is driven by the syntactic rules set out at the project start.[25]
Critics of Eisenman’s work suggest that his writings describing his theories do not describe his design process in a concise manner, that they deliberately ambiguous in order to allow Eisenman to close a critical examination. It is suggested that Eisenman uses jargon and rhetoric as a way to control the critical debate, to conduct it on his own terms. Eisenman can be seen as distancing himself from his own work, through the claims of an autonomous design process, the object is separated from creator.[26]
Mark David Major and Nicholas Sarris criticise Eisenman’s theoretical writings and the objects they refer to by suggesting that the theories aren’t quite of the analytical quality that Eisenman would have us believe, and the objects express more traditional notion than Eisenman would like. This is their ‘cloak and dagger’ theory of Eisenman and his architecture. They describe Eisenman of using theories that cannot be objectively used to discuss other architecture, perpetuating a myth of Eisenman as ‘architectural genius’.
Major and Sarris go on to describe Eisenman’s writings of House VI as being closer to what is the architectural ideal rather than pursuing an analytical discourse. They suggest that Eisenman is doing both architecture and himself an injustice because rather than seeking to expose the application of the elegant and simple rules of composition used in the design of House VI he instead obscures them with rhetoric. Finally they put forward that the rules that Eisenman has laid out for himself do not strictly limit the architectural possibilities open to him and that aesthetic and tradition considerations could still subconsciously influence the design.[27]
House VI acts as a commentary on architectural form, the principles of composition and the processes involved. Eisenman uses House VI to highlight the historical failures of architectural composition by highlighting drawings hold over the profession, but in doing this he limits the scope of his critique to traditional drawing based architecture.[28]The problem with drawing being in its ability to describe or show process. A finished architectural drawing becomes an object rather than an act of design. What Eisenman was attempting to achieve with House VI was the display of the design process, however paradoxically by displaying the process he in turn made it an image. The images can be reanimated through writing but the process itself is doomed to ambiguity.
Eisenman used House VI to push at the boundaries between process driven design and drawing, but was ultimately limited at this time due to drawing being his primary medium of communication.[29]Eisenman saw the reliance on drawing as stumbling block in his search to free architecture from its emphasis on form and function. What he achieved with House VI however was for the first time to bring the industries reliance on drawing into question.
House VI with its grids used a traditional method of architectural practice common since the Renaissance, but he managed to turn that process in upon itself revealing a infinite possibilities in turn made form utterly meaningless. The shifting priorities of design were brought forward with House VI and in doing so Eisenman shifted the future of architectural practice.
Eisenman through his study and introduction of semiotics sought to not only break free from the not only the cultural practices of his profession but also its limiting historical traditions. Drawings role in the design process reached a visibility not seen before in architecture. House VI helped to define the limitations of drawing on the design process, by using an approach such as semiotics and applying it to the design process, drawing was held up in the spotlight. This led to the questioning of the role of drawing and attempts to seek other modes of representation. What Eisenman achieved with House VI was to pave the way for computational design, this was by no means the original intent with the idea of using computers not even thought of at this stage.[30] But in opening the architectural discipline up through the science of semiotics and the syntactic approach of House VI he enabled and eased of that future possibility to take place. Eisenman’s buildings encourage exploration in architecture through the non-traditional means not as the only course of action but instead as an important alternative.

[1] (Mallgrave and Goodman 2011)
[2] (Crow 2010)p7
[3] (Mitrovic 2011)p148
[4] (Crow 2010)p15
[5] (Crow 2010)p30
[6] (Crow 2010)p41
[7] (Hattenhauer 1984)p72
[8] (Crow 2010)p54
[9] (Davies 2011)p24
[10] (Patin 1993)p88
[11] (Patin 1993)p91
[12] (Patin 1993)p88
[13] (Chapman, Ostwald and Tucker 2004)p389
[14] (Luce 2010)
[15] (Patin 1993)
[16] (Luscombe 2014)p560
[17] (Luscombe 2014)
[18] (Luce 2010)p127
[19] (Luce 2010)p129
[20] (Luscombe 2014)
[21] (Luce 2010)p132
[22] (Patin 1993)p89
[23] (Patin 1993)p91
[24] (Benjamin 1989)p50
[25] (Benjamin 1989)p51
[26] (Major and Sarris 1999)p20.2
[27] (Major and Sarris 1999)p20.4
[28] (Luce 2010)p132
[29] (Luce 2010)p132
[30] (Luce 2010)p134
Benjamin, Andrew. “Eisenman and the Housing Tradition.” Oxford Art Journal Vol.12, 1989: 47-54.
Chapman, Michael, Michael J Ostwald, and Chris Tucker. “Semiotics, interpretation and political resistance.” Contexts of Architecture. Launceston: ANZAScA, 2004. 384-390.
Crow, David. Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics in the Visual Arts. Lausanne: AVA Publishing, 2010.
Davies, Colin. Thinking About Architecture. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2011.
Hattenhauer, Darryl. “The Rhetoric of Architecture: A Semiotic Approach.” Communication Quarterly, 1984: 71-77.
Luce, Kristina. “The Collision of Process and Form.” Getty Research Journal No.2, 2010: 125-137.
Luscombe, Desley. “Architectural Concepts in Peter Eisenmans Axonometric Drawings of House VI.” The Journal Of Architecture, 2014: 560-611.
Major, Mark D, and Nicholas Sarris. “Cloak and Dagger Theory.” Space Syntax Second International Symposium. Brasilia: Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, 1999. 20.1-20.14.
Mallgrave, Harry F, and David Goodman. An Introduction to Architectural Theory 1968 to the Present. Chicester: John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
Mitrovic, Branko. Philosophy for Architects. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011.
Patin, Thomas. “From Deep Structure to an Architecture in Suspense: Peter Eisenman, Structuralism, and Deconstruction.” Journal of Architectural Education (Taylor & Francis, Ltd) 47, no. 2 (November 1993): 88.
Sargazi, Mohammad Ali. “Explaining the Meaning of the Symbols in Architectural Semiotics and Discovery.” Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Vol 1, 2013: 129-134.

Case Studies on Architectural Design Methodologies

How We Build: The Parts and the Whole – Precedent Case Studies
The two philosophies introduced above, mechanism and systems thinking, have influenced many aspects of our lives. One can arguably note their influences in our built environment, as can be seen in the variety of design methodologies present in architectural design.
Both academics and practitioners in the design field have often argued that the architectural practice can be classified as a holistic enterprise. This argument is founded on the fact that many players have a key role in the process of designing a building: the architect, the client, the consultants, the engineers, the planners, the builders and so on. In this context, holism does indeed propel an all-inclusive design process realized as a result of the many members collaborating on a given project. In fact, this trait is even said by many to be unique to architecture as a profession.

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However, when analyzing the conventional design methodologies employed in architecture, one cannot ignore the hierarchical and sequential separation of design, detailing, documentation, modeling and fabrication that has become prevalent in today’s day and age. This type of hierarchical separation and compartmentalization of processes can be seen in many aspects of design, but more specifically between material, form and structure. In order to explain this phenomenon more clearly, two built architectural projects have been chosen for analysis based on these two ideologies in architecture. Analyzing the two built examples below may shed more light on the ways in which machine thinking and systems thinking have influenced architectural design philosophies and methodologies.
The first project is considered by many as being the most contemporary technological application of timber construction. The second project was completed approximately three decades ago and continues to be an inspirational precedent regarding the use the inherent material properties of wood, specifically Tiber. Distinguishing between these two projects and their approaches is of great relevance to this research. The aim is not to assess the two projects with the intention of promoting one over the other, but rather to identify the contrasting design methodologies. For this comparison, the focus will lie namely on the design and realization of the roof structures.
The inspiration for the roof of the Centre Pompidou in Metz, designed by Shigeru Ban, Jean de Gastines and Ove Arup & Partners, was a traditional Japanese straw hat (ill.3). The form that resulted from this inspiration was based on two components: a specified freeform surface with a hexagonal edge, and a flat, kagome lattice consisting of triangles and hexagons that is projected onto the free-form surface. The lattice structural grid was developed using digital processes such as CAD software (ill.4). The digital model created from this step was then developed into a highly complex geometric construction in which every element of the structure was unique in its curvature and shape. The digital form-giving process was used only to establish the geometry of the roof structure. Following this design phase, engineers and consultants working in the realm of computer-based geometry optimized the design of the structure and rendered it buildable.
The actual physical construction of this roof structure involved a series of glue-lam girders arranged in three layers (ill.5). Each of these girders is comprised of several segments, fastened to one another in order to achieve the “curved” appearance of the girders. In total, the entire roof assembly is made up of 1,790 segments, which were classified into three categories (straight, single curved, double curved) (ill.6). The 1,790 individual segments were fabricated by a computerized numerical control (CNC) joinery machine. In order to achieve the final form of the structure, it was necessary to mill away fifty percent of each individual glue-lam beam to obtain the required building component geometry (ill7). In the next phase of the project, the individual components making up the complex geometry of the roof were transported from the fabrication shop with trucks and were assembled incrementally using scaffolding and cranes to make up the final form of the structure (ill.8).
This project followed a relatively linear flow of data, beginning with the initial design inspiration, and working up towards a formal design, the development of a CAD model, the refinements and optimization achieved by engineers in rationalizing the process, and finally ending with the computer aided manufacturing of the highly specified components. A similarly linear approach then took place on site for the duration of the incremental assembly process. Overall, this design approach is a direct reflection of mechanistic ideologies.
The second project is the “Multihalle” located in Mannheim and designed by Frei Otto, Carlfried Mutschler, and Ove Arup and Partners (1975). Like the Centre Pompidou this project consists of a double-curved lattice shell, but the design was not the result of a form-giving process (ie. one in which the form was pre-conceived by the designer and a structural system was developed to actualize the form). Instead, this project consists of a more integrated form-finding process informed by material experimentation, material behaviours and constraints along with an extensive series of models and prototyping. It is important to note that the form finding process for the Multihalle involved upside-down hanging chain models (ill.10). This was important because it allowed the architects to determine the three-dimensional geometry of the shell. These models were especially effective in creating pure tension shapes due to gravity’s pull on the chains. When an appropriate geometry was achieved, the model was then inverted to create a pure compression shell. This resulted in a geometry that was structurally stable, devoid of in-plane shear stresses in the lattice structure.
In the development of this project, the lattice shell structure was based on two fundamental questions:
1) Could a shell structure be constructed with a tensile uniform mesh and be capable of supporting its own weight without buckling and causing no moment bending?
2) Could a shell structure be constructed using the natural bending properties of wood laths, which were initially assembled as a flat system?
The structure of Multihalle is called a grid shell. A grid shell is a “double curved surface formed from a lattice of timber laths bolted together at uniform spacing in two directions.”[1] There are two types of lattice shells systems: strained and unstrained. The difference between strained and unstrained shells is that the unstrained shells are made of pre-bent members. In the unstrained shell, curved members experience no strain during the erection process because they have been previously curved to the desired shape. This method was used for the Centre Pompidou in Metz. The Multihall shell structure however, consists of a strained lattice shell, comprised of a 2 double-layer wooden lath system, assembled flat in a square diagrid pattern (ill.11). The initially flat grid is held together by pinned joints (ill.12) that permit the laths to move parallel to one another (ill.13). This allows the grid one degree of movement when flat. However, once the structure is erected and the grid takes on the double-curved geometry of the shell, the forces will deform the square grids into parallelograms (ill.14). In this manner, the structural web can take on specific forms by changing key parameters in the assembly such as scissor-like deformation, adjustable pins, cambering and edge definition of the system. As a result of this double curved design, the members increase in strength and stiffness.[2]
Erecting the shell on site required that the entire flat system be lifted at a number of key points with the aid of cranes. Once the web was lifted at these points, the network of wood laths naturally took on the desired geometry due to the flexible bending behaviour of the continuous wood members and the deformation of the network (ill.14).
The system’s joint connections were then tightened to obtain shear-resistant connections that would maintain the desired shape of the structure (ill.15). Next, steel cable ties were added to provide diagonal stiffness to the shell (ill.16). The grid shell was then fastened to the substructure at specified support points, thereby stabilizing the complex roof
The critical difference between these two projects is that one was designed and geometrically defined by the designer and subsequently rationalized for construction, while the other was a result of an extensive form-finding process based on material behaviours, experimentation and structural behaviours. The Centre Pompidou is often referred to as a state-of-art, digitally designed wood construction project. It required six layers of glue-lam beams with cross section of 140 x 440 mm to achieve a 50m clear span. In addition, it was necessary that 50 percent of the glue-lam material be milled off during the CNC fabrication process in order to achieve the desired shape of each member. In contrast, the double layered grid of the Multihalle in Mannheim spans up to 60m and consists of members that only measure 50 x 50 mm in cross section. As a result, the “Multihalle” project emerged as a grid shell that was extremely cost-effective and material efficient. It also proved much easier to construct than many of today’s contemporary lattice structures like the Centre Pompidou in Metz.
The intention of this comparison is to demonstrate the differences which exist between these two design methodologies. One is the digital continuation of the long-standing hierarchical process in which form-giving takes precedence over rationalization. The other concerns a design process which undergoes constant transformations due to an integrated and informed approach that can anticipate the possibilities of materialization.
Frei Otto’s work with lightweight structures as well as the design methodologies employed in his projects serve as exemplary precedents in demonstrating the theory and design methodologies adopted in this research. Similar to Frei Otto’s approach, this research will propose a lightweight structural system that seeks to incorporate an integrative approach to form-finding using the material properties and behaviours of wood. In order to fully understand the capabilities of this material, the following chapter explores the material science and characteristics of wood.

[1] Happold and Liddell, “Timber lattice roof for the Mannheim Budesgartenshau,” The Structural Engineer 53 (1975): 99-135.
[2] Burkhardt Berthold and Frei Otto. IL 13: Multihalle Mannheim (Stuttgart: Freunde und Förderer der Leichtbauforschung, 1978).

Architectural Style of the Rockefeller Tower

Skyscraper is a vertical small town rising in the sky with thousands of people who work in. And hundreds of thousands more who experience it and subrogate every day. According to (Renzo Piano 2000) tall buildings are firm and cocky symbols of power and ego. The Rockefeller had almost the same approach as Piano 90 years ago. John D Rockefeller had a vision to build a top of the rock monument to Manhattan, and to be his greatest gift for the people of New York. His vision began in 1928 when he least a land from Colombia University in the heart of Manhattan. The land intended to house the metropolitan Opera House. But unfortunately in 1929 a disaster struck in the nation economies. Thousands of men and women lost their savings and their jobs, and people were desperate for work. John D Rockefeller was the resolver, he decided to build the tower and the city he called his own will rise again. In 1930 the construction of the Rockefeller center began, and the project has engaged 75000 men and women to work to support their families.

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Upon it’s accomplish in 1939, the Rockefeller center became the largest private structure in the modern history. It lives in legend, the mark of a civilization greatest achievement at this time. The tower is no longer a dream center of the art, it’s a complex were all New Yorkers conjugate. Were business is transacted, were strangers meet, friends and families unite. From the top deck of the Tower, is the ultimate full-film of the Rockefeller’s dream. New York rose again, to become the acme of the global culture in commerce. The center became an epicenter of community in the heart of New York. Top the rock is more than a breath taking view of Manhattan, it is a testament of the power of this city. The vibrancy of its community, the splendor of its culture and the magnificent diversity of its people. The essay will investigate the Rockefeller tower in details, its architecture and programme. Looking if the building is harmoniously friendly and coherent with the city and in context. It’s a city within a city and one of the early skyscrapers of the 20th century and a significant icon of New York. The Seventy stories structure has changed the life of the city.
By the time the new century began, New York was a city in the process not simply of change but nearly of alchemy. The invention of the elevator in 1853 and the steel framed construction method that was developed in the early 1880’s were the most obvious propulsive. The visible forms of a city is created by its architecture and its environment. At the beginning of the twentieth century a city like New York was in the process to define itself and its identity. Over the years Manhattan was testing the type and the form of its vertical style of architecture. First example with the Woolworth building in 1910 and then twenty years later the birth of the Rockefeller center in 1930. It’s the example of New York’s greatest monumental skyscraper that was proclaimed as a national monument in 1987. It was the right time for some development to happen to refresh the economic depression after a nine years crash in 1920s’. The project employed almost 75,000 workers, the impact of a massive undertaking was felt even more on the city’s morale boosted by Rockefeller’s smart move. Construction of the original complex began in 1931, and ended in 1939. The site was subsequently enlarged by the construction of the Esso (now Warner Communication) building in 1946 and by the (Manufacturers Hanover) building 1950. Both of these structures were designed in harmony with the complex of the Rockefeller Center’s architects. Few years later the complex has been extended with new buildings on the west side of Sixth Avenue but not related to the historic core. It’s one of the most prestigious mixed used complexes in New York and America.
The project was a result of many architects collaboration, the most familiar one is Raymond Hood. Hood was one of the distinguished skyscraper architects of the America’s Metropolitan era. After graduating from MIT, Hood decided traveling to Paris to resume his studies at the Ecole de Beaux Arts. His rise to prominence came as the result of his victory in the international competition of Chicago Tribune Building in 1922 when he was forty years old. After his huge success and a lot of tall buildings under his belt, he was commissioned by John D Rockefeller to work on one of the biggest projects in New York, the Rockefeller center. Hood was the head of the associated architects who worked on the project. Including Harvey Corbett, William H.Macmurray, Wallace Harrison and Hennery Holfmeister. Both Corbett and Harrison studied as at the Ecole de Beaux Arts. And Harrison was very involved in the design work especially after the death of Raymond Hood in 1934.
The structure conferred Raymond hood, with the possibility to make one of the best projects of 1930’s artistic movement of urban style. John D. Rockefeller was familiar with the clef of the economic actuality in building modern structures. He was looking for architects to explore their full potential of the artistic movement, not tied up to the monotony of architectural modernism. What the Rockefeller center needed is nice attractive plan as much as possible with pure looking exteriors. These specifications were suited nicely with the art deco style, with the advantage of a hopeful architecture that appeared clearly in the Rockefeller tower.
The RCA tower
The architectural design of the tower was the result of many conditioning factors. On the most primitive level was the accommodation of varied tenant recruitments and the maximum utilization of available land. The architects had considerable freedom in determining the mass of their tower. The solution was the integration of three different buildings into a single structure. With more than 1,000 feet long which spans the full block between the Rockefeller plaza and Sixth Avenue. The coherence results from the limited palette of material and architectural vocabulary. All the buildings are covered with buff colored, Indiana limestone cladding with gray aluminum spandrels in the skyscraper. All have two-over one steel sash recessed slightly behind flat piers to produce a significantly cohesive impression of the precinct as a virtually one structure. The RCA building includes three different types of spandrels, all of which have a delicate Gothic arcades behind. Stepped vertically ridged spandrels appear on the building’s lateral setbacks and at the top of the NBC studios.
Leaf clusters rendered in an angular version of the art nouveau style appear in a two eyelet above the setbacks. The building is terminated with similar leafy spandrels, but with four eyelets. Lewis Mumford (A historian of the 20th century) considered these spiky terminations and the arcaded balustrade behind, as no more than architectural tension. The balustrade is usually attributed to Rockefellers’ preference for Gothic. The leaves however might well derive from the admiration of the Egyptian architecture. Some weight is given to this by the frequent appearance of the “Lotus”in the center’s bronze screens. In the timeless monumentality of the Rockefeller center is the entrance to the building which recalls such a geometric structures and symmetry as at “Temple Deir El Bahary”of Ancient Egypt. Also the aluminum spandrels were practical as well as decorative features that weighed and cost less than stone. They surmount the building’s 5,817 windows creating a significant decorative pattern within the whole exterior.
One of the things that Hood learned during his studies at Ecole de Beaux Arts that the first principle in effective urban composition was the axial plan. Which means a street or boulevard or even a formal garden surrounded by harmonious structures that leads to a clearly defined focal point. So pedestrians are guided through the passage, animating the scene and contributing to the pleasure of the city life. By far the promenade or channel gardens created at the margin of the Rockefeller center, follows the principal of the axial plan. A steeply pedestrian corridors from the East West extends the ambience of Fifth Avenue into the heart of the complex.
The RCA West
The RCA building west, is a sixteen story extension of the RCA tower that its construction began four month after the 31 story RKO building (now 1270 Avenue of the Americas) to its north. The building served as a backdrop to the Rockefeller center which is oriented to Fifth Avenue, but as the corporate front of the complex. It also shares the same materials and unique four eyelet leafy spandrels at roof levels. The RCA west is distinguished by the fact that its façade rises sheer from the sidewalk and by the stepping back of its façade around two low-rise corner properties.
The Elevators Cores
One of main factors that conditioned the Rockefeller center’s design was the New York Building code and the introduction of new elevators whose high speed reduce the number required for the building service. Actually the tower stood in marked contrast to most contemporaneous skyscrapers were zoning setbacks created a wedding cake effect. The architects were required to group high speed elevators into the center of the tower and ring the center with corridors and offices that surround it on each floor. The architects came up with the solution of grouping elevators on both sides of the corridor which totally eliminate the wedding cake effect. In addition to those regulations that all lifts servicing the building should have a setback from the main streets. The pure geometry of the Rockefeller’s functional slab was paradoxically distributed by Raymond Hood’s desires to give full rational expression.
After a big controversy debates between the associated architects, Hood finally succeed in introducing setbacks at each point of elevator elimination. And cutting out all the unnecessary spaces left and letting the building stand on its own. The progressive narrowing of the building mass maintained the 27 ½ foot relationship of offices to building core and clearly expressed the decreased number of elevators required for the upper floors. 42 at ground level narrowing to ten on the 53rd floor. The functional expressions on both the north and the south sides of the RCA building and the setbacks are pure romance on its east façade where their primary function is to dramatize the soaring 850 foot tapered shaft.
Ventilation and Illumination
John D.Rockefeller had the intentions to build a high quality business spaces. He insisted that all offices doesn’t exceed a 27 feet from a window. The main idea was to maximize the amount of daylight and air to be able to penetrate the building. The sixteen story building in the west of the RCA is benefiting with much less light, it’s almost unpenetrated by daylight. This space is less desirable for office space, it has perfectly fitted NBC’s broadcasting studios which needed no windows or any natural light. They needed a large amounts of horizontal layered spaces, the technical details of this unit were specially exacting. In order to insure soundproofing all the studios units were designed with floating insolated walls, floors and ceilings suspended and insulated from the building’s structural frame.
They operate twenty six casting studios in the building, with six auditions rooms. One studio is the largest in the world, will be more than three stories high. The studios surrounds a central control room that will be used for complicated productions. One studio for the actors, one for the orchestra and one for the sound effects. This plan of grouping several studios around the central control room, is admirably adaptable. In anticipation of the imminent application of TV technology, NBC conceives the entire block as a single electronic arena that can transmit itself via airwaves into the home of every citizen. The nerve center of an electronic community that would congregate at the Rockefeller center without being there, it’s the first structure that can be broadcast. This part of the building was a dream, it’s a media city within a 70 story building, a new instruments of pervasive culture that simply broadcast life.
The Sunken Plaza
The genesis of Rockefeller Center’s sunken plaza dates back to 1927 when Benjamin Wistar Morris was commissioned to prepare designs for the Metropolitan Opera Company. After a trip to Europe where he studied opera designs and such famous Piazzas as the one in front of St.Peter’s in Rome. Morris argued that the success of the entire project depends on the amount of increased revenue obtainable due to the creation of an open square. The sunken plaza is lactated in front of the RCA building from the east side at Fifth Avenue. A rectangular plaza about 18 feet below ground level. Having made the decent, strollers had the option of entering the shopping concourse or retracing their steps in an uphill direction. As the architects realized most people would avoid the last option. Other stairways were provided along the rear facades of the French and British buildings but these were designed as subsidiary passages.

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Aside from the open space itself, the Plaza’s focal point is Paul Manship’s bronze statue of Prometheus. Which illuminated at night dominated the center a gray granite rectangular fountain. 18 feet high and weighs around eight tons. The sculpture is covered by more than a pound of gold leaf. The plaza is one of the most distinguished achievements of modern urban design. Together with the channel gardens to its east and the private road (Rockefeller Plaza) to its west, it provides nearly two acres of open space in the dense congestion of midtown Manhattan.
Rooftop Gardens
The introduction of rooftop gardens was one of Raymond Hood’s poetic contributions. One which like the building setbacks was a paradoxical outgrowth of his functionalism. Convinced that building from should evolve from interior requirements and not from the exterior appearance. Hood designed for the tenant not for the passer-by on the street. Rooftop landscaping is not a loss of commercial space, they enhance rental values by improving the quality of the visible environment and nature. The gardens were concessions to the office workers who looked down from the skyscraper windows onto what otherwise would have been an unsightly sprawl of neglected roofs. There is a various types of gardens on the rooftops, including vegetable, rock and modern gardens as well as one for children. Inspired by the international theories of such architects as Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, this combination of gardens and architecture of the RCA building was quite unique in modern times. Hood also was thinking financially not only architecturally, since the project theme is to maximize the rental values of spaces, he considered all the offices overlooking the rooftop landscape as a financial asset. Higher rents could be charged for these offices as they are more benefiting from a nice greenery view through their windows.
Does the Rockefeller executed all wishes?
According to Rem Koolhaas “the Rockefeller center has fulfill all the Manhattans desires”. Prettiness, utility and service were all combined in one tremendous project that has totally changed the life of the city. The Rockefeller center collected different values, the balance of Greek architecture, the retaining flavor of Babylon’s magnificence, and the continued qualities of mass and strength of the Romans, as Koolhaas mentioned in (Delirious New York 1978). The vertical form of the whole ensemble was meant to symbolize humanity’s progress toward new frontiers, a dear theme to Rockefeller, who sought to advance that cause through his charities.
The city is not a single existence, it’s a combination of many layers that integrates together to formulate the city. These layers includes the architecture with the people that occupies it, the streets, landscaping and monuments. All of these aspects creates the concept of an urban city. In New York, the skyscraper adopts the same concept of the numerous strata but in a different way. Rem Koolhaas described it with the word “schism” in his book (Delirious New York 1978). Which means a skyscraper consists of many layers that are not connected to each other creating an unlike form of interior urbanism. All together in one single structure that work independently and detached from the city. This concept is called a skyscraper which best described as a city within a city.
Raymond Hood believe passionately in the virtues of congestion, the balance between congestion and order. Hood was more pragmatic and willing to have a city that embraced contradictions and differences. What he wanted is to have great tall towers and smaller buildings as well. He envisioned a set-back shape for skyscraper, something that as we have now come lately to realize, was probably the best way to integrate great height and a good form.
For Hood, traditions mean nothing to him, he was fascinated by the concept of an architect designed urban future and believed that skyscrapers should be the defining structure and the city’s future. Raymond Hood’s faith and hopes in the future of tall buildings, that are widely spaced, afforded both advantages of dense and concentration and efficient traffic circulation. He was described as a ‘brilliant bad boy’. Hood remained free of any theoretical literary attached to styles, so he went after strong design inhabiting misconceptions about what an architect should be doing.
My Argument
After the completion of the Rockefeller center, people saw it as a huge success. As it presented a new means of solving the problem of skyscraper congestion. It’s not only about the image or the power of the high rise buildings, but the relationship between these structures and the urban composition of a city. As skyscrapers looks nice and tall, they also negatively impact on the city. Crating problems relating to the land, the traffic flow light and air. According to Daniel Okrent in his book (Great Fortune 2003) “the skyscraper was nothing more than a machine makes the land pay”. The vertical style of architecture that for a centuries had belonged exclusively to the exaltation of the church could now be adapted to the needs of commerce by the transformation power of technology. By the end of the twentieth century, New York has been transformed to a frightful forests of stone and steel high rise structures germinating in Manhattan. Especially in downtown where narrow streets were now shrunken and shadowed by parallel rows of skyscrapers. When you walk down in Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue you can realize how scary is to be surrounded by tall buildings, Rockefeller Center on your right, facing 1221 Avenue of the Americas by R.Hood, and the Olympic Tower etc.
When you look at the Rockefeller center, you can see the prettiness of the design and like Koolhaas described it in (Delirious New York 1978) “Beauty, utility, dignity and service are combined in one project”. Aside from Koolhaas opinion, I think if you are standing in Sixth Avenue and looking up, you might not be able to see the sky. Because of a three mountain chunks intersecting in one huge structure rising up, which at some point you can’t see its end and you start losing the sense of scale. Which was the encouragement of the developer to the architects to utilize their full potential in determining the volume of the tower. As resulting of a gigantic building that even after it was completed, they were struggling at some point to fill many floors with new tenants.
The idea of making a sunken plaza was brilliant, a new way of creating a gathering space inspired from the European architecture such as Place Vendome in Paris and the St.Peter’s square in Rome. But here at the Rockefeller, I think it has failed, for two reasons. First it was unable to retain the intended retail tenants. The main idea was to increase the amount of revenue which didn’t happened. Also when you decent 18 feet below ground level, you feel yourself drowning and strangled by the hulking structures that surround you. The sunken plaza shouldn’t be sunken it was supposed to be the contrary, a rising plaza with a nice view and a connection with the urbanism rather than an obscured one.
The purpose of the glass windows that covers the Rockefeller center is to maximize the amount of natural daylight and ventilation within the office spaces. Nowadays almost a quarter of the building is unpenetrated with light, as a result of super-scaled buildings that became a trend in the 20th and its clear appearance in the urban of New York, especially Manhattan. The consequences led to a negative impact on the city, the 70 stories block is brooding shadow darkening the streets and antagonistic the nature.
I think the Rockefeller center has affected the normal routine of the city somehow. It’s not only about how big or tall or stunning the building is, it’s what this enormous tower can offer to the city in a friendly way. The main aspects of any architectural developments is how it could use the full potential to be consistent and coherent with the vernacular of the city. This kind of connection and relationship that merges with the urbanization of the city is really important and shouldn’t be avoided or ignored. The case here of the Rockefeller center is the contrary, it didn’t really succeeded to offer these qualities. A seventy story skyscraper that isolated itself from the city ignoring all the values and meanings of a cohesive and intimate architecture. A complex that tried to separate a hundreds and thousands of people from the circumference and the city life. Aside from the nice exterior looking, if you look at the architectural qualities you can see that some of it failed and didn’t worked well and efficiently. The gigantic volume of the tower without a defined reason, the sunken plaza that looks like an obscure hollow with no natural light and air, and many other things. The consequences of Manhattans skyline architecture became a jungle of super-scaled buildings that negatively impacted on the city, according to Daniel Okrent “it was an architecture of brutality” (Great Fortune 2004).

Architectural History of Blenheim Palace


Blenheim Palace is the one of the huge building in England and it was designed by playwright Sir John Vanbrugh, assistants Nicholas Hawksmoor, and landscape architect Lancelot Brown (Capability Brown). An impressive example of 18th English baroque style. It was located at a town in southwestern New York, Oxfordshire, England. Formerly it was called by “Woodstock Manor”, This building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward tothe first duke Marlborough, John Churchill. [1] It was built in 1705 when Queen Anne bestows to John Churchill, he was Winston Churchill forefather. This was to celebrate the victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. By Blenheim Palace as the axis a huge palace building complex, it was the center of Woodstock. Beside this hidden a lot of precious oil painting and sculpture of magnificent palace, it also had a lake, pasture and a typical of English manor. Even though in later period had add in a lot of artificial features, but it is still a faction elegant English-style afternoon tea. Blenheim palace is an immortal country house, one of the England’s largest country house. it is the only non-royal, non-episcopal in England to hold the title of palace. [2] This is a territory of the Oxfordshire quiet, green village. Futhermore, Winston Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace, the former Prime Minister of the England. In 1988, Blenheim Palace was list as cultural heritage of the world. In early the 20th, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him.

Figure 1: Front view of Blenheim Palace

Source of Name

The origin name of Blenheim Palace was come from a decisive war at the north shore of the Danube and it was happened in 13th August 1704. In a north shore of the Danube, nearby had a small village called Blenheim. It was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. It was Marlborough who personally received the surrender from Marshall Tallard, leader of the French forces, following the battle.[3] Charity generous queen Anne giving the “Woodstock” royal honor and the construction of “Blenheim Palace” as a gift. The construction of this building start from 1705 to 1722 by Mr. Wenbuhler.The title of “ Woodstock” of the royal honor and building given by her majesty the queen Anne and confirmed by parliament.[4] In 1712, the construction of Blenheim Palace forced to stop all work. Since when Duke Marlborough continue across work for the queen, hostile forces are trying to think of ways to destroyed the queen for his love. Finally, the funds approval to build Blenheim Palace did not get, so that they owned the masonry, sculptor and other things include the architect.
[1] [2]

Architectural Style

Interior Design

Blenheim Palace, the main building consists of two wings on the main building and courtyards. The exterior mixed with Collins-style colonnades and tower with Baroque style. High uplift of the triangular wall, forming patchwork of facade line. Entering the hall, it is surrounded salon, reception room, library, living room, all surrounded by a small courtyard, connected by corridors and hall. Furnishings with families portrait paintings, tapestries and a variety of decorative ornaments, each one from the hands of masters. To mimic the natural landscape sculpture gardens seldom do the decoration, while Blenheim Palace is a French Baroque garden. Sculptures are visible everywhere.
The Grand Bridge
Blenheim palace is an English baroque architecture. In 1709, the manor was destructed by the Duchess of Marlborough’s command, the foundation of Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge used a lot of rubber to fill up. When John Churchill and Vanbrugh walking though inquired into Woodstock Park, they saw a valley of marsh, this gave Sir Vangbrugh some inspiration, he created and designed the fitnest bridgein Europe. Since in 1711, Marburg was the Queen of favor and banished several years. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, she finished the Blenheim with Vanbrugh by their own expense, even though they faced a lot of budjet problem and enter the prohibited place.

Figure 2: The Grand Bridge of Blenheim Palace
From the figure 2 above, can see the sea is surrounding the grand bridge. After the first duke died, his wife called in Colonel John Armstrong, he was a chief engineer, to re-designed the water-works in the park.
The Great Hall
The most amazing thing is the grand lobby, especially theGibbons hall. The hall is 67’ ft high, due to James Thornhill who is an english painter of historical subject, in 1716 he painted the ceilings of blenheim palace, according the order of war and to expand in blenheim palace, and to show the Madero victory. Futhermore, there had stone carving by Grinling Gibbons. However, the 9th Duke’s bronze bust was made by Sir Jacob Epstein. Sarah Churchill was famous on bargain prices, she always argue with the workers that she hire. In a similar situation, she was argue with Grinling Gibbons, the master carver, he haven’t complete the work on house, but after that he never returned to complete and continue his work.

Figure 3: Great Hall of Blenheim Palace
The Saloon
The Saloon, can only use once a year in Christmas dinner for the family of Duke Marlborough. In this elegant and classic room painted murals and paintings of French artist Louis Laguerre.

Figure 4: Saloon ceiling of Blenheim
Sarah Churchill were instructed to the first duke, John Churchill report the victory to Queen Anne. John Churchill used solid silver centerpiece writing the dispatch on horseback to his wife in this room. The centerpiece was made byGarrard, the Crown Jewellers. [5]
The Green Writing Room
In addition to Blenheim’s wall, there were thick tapestries made of expensive fabrics hang from the wall, describing the surrender from French on the battle been accepted by Marlborough in the green writing room. A carefully planned bureau in the room, the style of decorated was a modern inlay style, and this was made from the Queen’s nephew.
The Long Library
The long library, is one of the private house in Britain, the long library it was originally designed for the gallery, designed by Vanbrugh and Nicholes Hawksmoor. The library can contain around 10,000 books, the largely collection was from 9th Duke. Inside the wall, at the northern end, hang in a systemic statue of Queen Anne, King William III and the first duke, John Churchill. Maybe the most compelling place in the room is the magnificent Willis government agencies. In 1891, there was an organ belongs to Henry Willis and he designed it. This is the most ou tstanding room from Hawksmoor’s designed. The ordinary stucco ceilings designed, included two false domes, was completed in 1725.

Figure 5: The Long Library
Due to the figure 3 above, there have a blank ceiling. At first, Sir James Thornhill was entrusted to filled up allegorical scenes. But it was too expensive, so they remained blank. The interesting things is, in 18th century, the blank and plane ceiling giving simple appearance to show atypical of the neoclassical or Georgian style of the Robert Adam. For many years, this long library had a number variety of uses. During World War I it was a hospital ward and during World War II it served as a dormitory for Malvern College boys. [6]
3.2 The Water Terraces
Due to the water terraces of Blenheim palace, Winston Churchill was be responsible for the creation of a huge lake, the artificial fluctuations and a series of water cascades. He wrote that Blenheim’s unique attraction lie in its perfect adaptation of English parkland to an Italian palace. The “Italian palace” it seems to be part of the reference about the unique garden, the western water terraces, designed bythe French landscape architectAchille Duchêne.

Figure 6: The upper water terrace in Blenheim Palace
During the 9th Duke of Marlborough, water terraces was built. It was built form 1925 to 1930, took around five years. The lower Water Terrace, separated from the upper Water Terrace by a wall of caryatids and tiered shells has been compared to the Parterre d’Eau at Versailles.
Reportedly, the Water Terraces were inspired by the sculptor Bernini. The sphinx is one of pair with heads modeled on the features of the 9th Duke’s second American wife Gladys Deacon. It was created by Ward Willis in 1930. Another piece of sculpture on the lower Water Terrace was modeled on local man and gardener by Bert Timms of Hanborough. Due to the story, he got inspired when walking through the garden and noticed who was carving Visseau at the time, As a result, he made the model of the head and torso of the leftmost caryatid on the wall that separates the two Water Terraces at Blenheim When walk in through, there had an archway describe about British lion forced down to a cockerel (the emblem of France). Altogether, on the exterior there were almost 15 references to mention British Victories against the French.
4.0 Architectural History
In 13 August 1704, John Churchill achieved victory the Battle of Blenheim, who led the Allied forces. He was defeated in Bavaria with army of Louis XIV, in order to award his feats, he was awarded be the first Duke of Marlborough the king and giving him the construction of Blenheim as a gift. Blenheim Place is a masterpiece completed with a famous architect John Vanbrugh between 1705 until 1722. The building style of this was intended to reflect the establishment of the Duke of Marlborough’s outstanding contributions. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, he is the eighth generation the first Duke of Marlborough’s grandson. He inherited on the fine tradition of the family, exert excellence military talent, go through brilliant political career. Winston Churchill wrote a biography about his family. Long ago, he was an officer, but later he served as British Prime Minister because of he successfully defended Britain in World War II. First, the first Duke took a fancy to a wide valley, later it formed to a piece of marsh. Sir John Vanbrugh design and build a grand large bridge. Bridge arches of main bridge total width 31 meters. It started the construction in 1708, but because of the cost was too high, and did not complete the constructed. Sarah Churchill, the first duchess, disagree to build an arched bridge under the valley. So, just built an ordinary bridge to connected between Blenheim and the ranch. In 1764, the family of duke the important task of construction to Blenheim Palace handed over to landscape architect, Capability Brown. He think that landscape design should blend with the natural landscape, not to leave traces of artificial modification. He repaired dams in the valley, form to a large territorial waters. Therefore, under the bridge become two edges of crooked lake. The first duke, John Churchill death on 1725, after the five years he death, the construction of Blenheim Palace just fully completed. The duke memorial was a landmark to Blenheim Palace, under the memorial hall rooftop have a small tower and belfry. Supporting the Duke memorial hall there have 4 pillars, have the sing of Marlborough moral merit. The main part of this construction was using the columns to connect, and to replace the wall. Top of the memorial hall. There have a sculpture of British lion forced down to a cockerel, which means that the strength of victory. In early the 20th, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, was rebuilt the east and west sides in the shape neat gardens. This pattern of garden, had become a lawn. The 9th duke of Marlborough hire the famous French landscape designer, Achille Duchêne to create a water garden. Duke hopes to restore the original appearance of the lake, but he just here to build a strange pond. Regarding to the famous architect and sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, he was praised to him. Bernini used the Roman of St. Pierre Cathedral transformed into the famous Palazzo Barberini, it was very famous and well-known in Europe. At that time, they called it Bernini was a “Knight”, Louis XIV also asked him to remodelled the Louvre. In order to satisfy the wish of the Duke, Achille Duchêne have to follow according to Bernini’s approach to the design of Blenheim Palace Gardens. He imitated Bernini to build a new plaza, in this pond middle of Alpheus built a small fountain. In England, natural landscape gardens seldom to do the decoration, yet Blenheim Palace was a French Baroque garden, sculptor can easy to be seen at here. The layout of garden neat and orderly, wherein plants and ornaments panoramic view passage. Statue in every corner is a sign of military bravery and honor of military. Because this is to commemorated the residence of the British army and built it.

The front view of Blenheim Palace, available on, accessed on 29 April 2015, 8p.m
The Grand Bridge of Blenheim Palace, available on, accessed on 02 May 2015, 02:14am.
The Great Hall of Blenheim Palace, available on, accessed on 2 May 2015, 01:50 a.m.

Saloon ceiling of Blenheim, available on,-Oxfordshire-The-Apotheosis-of-Hercules, accesed on 1 May 2015 2:30pm.

The Long Library available on,, accessed on 1 May 2015, 4:00pm.


Frank Lloyd Wright: Literary and Architectural Legacy

There is a depth in each building that surpasses the visible physical characteristics of its structure. The philosophy that derives the experiences created within is an essential element in understanding each building or structure. It is this philosophy that differentiates an architect from another. And it was the organic philosophy in architecture that lifted Frank Lloyd wright’s status to be called the greatest American Architect of all times. Through the study of his various writings, this paper explores his philosophy and analyses it in light of his design process and some of his constructed works.
The Principles of the Organic:
“It was Lao Tze, five hundred years before Jesus who declared, that the reality of the building consisted not of the walls and roof but inhered in the space within, the space to be lived in”.[1]
For Frank Lloyd Wright, the center line of organic architecture was “form and function are one.” They become one, they are integral. He conceived this integrity, from within outward, as the modern architect’s guide and opportunity. “Out of the ground and into the light” was an opportunity. The nature of material was also an opportunities. All three opportunities were limitations but they were also a condition of success. Human nature was one of these materials, as well, served by the building and serving it.[2]
In his various writings Frank Lloyd Wright explained the principles guiding and driving his organic architecture. He believed that the knowledge of the relations between form and function was essential for the practice of architecture and could only be achieved by studying nature and its principles.[3]
From the simplicity inhered in nature he deducted certain ideals for organic architecture. First, that a building should contain as few rooms as possible. The ensemble of these rooms should be considered for comfort, utility and go hand in hand with beauty. Second, the openings should be integral features of the structure and form, providing it with natural ornamentation, instead of rich looking decoration. He also argued that the appliances, furniture and fixtures should be should incorporated in the general scheme of the structure. [4]

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For Wright simplicity was not in itself an end but it was a means to an end. The reticence in ornamentation in these structures is mainly for two reasons: first, they are the expression of an idea that ornamentation should constitutional, a matter of the nature of the structure, beginning with the ground plan. Second, because buildings perform their functions in relation to human life within, to develop and maintain the harmony of a true chord, broad simple surfaces and highly conventionalized forms are inevitable. According to him, these ideas take the building out of school and marry them to the ground, make them intimate expressions or revelations of the exteriors; individualize them regardless of previous notions of style.[5]
Nature’s principles also formulated other ideals in organic architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright maintained that the individuality of a person should be reflected in the style of the house he inhabits, therefore there should be as many styles of houses as there are kinds of people. He also asserted that a building should grow easily from its site and be shaped to harmonize with its surroundings, making it quiet, substantial and organic. The use of colors was also an important aspect, for they had to fit to live with the natural forms they do. Therefore he encouraged the use of soft, warm tones of earth and autumn leaves in preference to the blues, purples or greens and greys. Bringing out the nature of material was an essential ideal to organic architecture, describing them as friendly and beautiful. He believed that following the prevalent traditions leads to structures that become soon out of fashion, stale and profitable, insisting that each house should have character of its own.[6] Therefore organic principles grew out of nature and its principles; however there are other aspects that have partially led to its growth.
Rejection of Classical and Renaissance Architecture:
“I deliberately chose to break with traditions in order to be more true to tradition than current conventions and ideals in architecture would permit.” [7]
The principles of organic architecture, though they seemingly developed out of nature’s principles were also partially born from Wright’s critique of previous classical and renaissance styles. In the First evening of his London lectures in 1939,Wright declared that the classic was “more of a mask for life to wear rather than an expression of life itself.” [8]He strongly critiqued the view of architecture as a fashionable aesthetic, arguing that modern architecture rejects all grando-mania, every building that would stand in a military fashion. [9]He encouraged architectsto abandon the cherishing of preconceived form fixed upon them, and to exhale to the laws of common sense to determine from them the form and material of the building in light of its purpose, resulting in a differentiation between the different forms of the building due to their varying function, asserting that Form and Function are one.[10]
Wright criticized the tall interiors that were divided into box like compartments, where the architecture mainly involved “healing over the edges of the curious collection of holes that had to be cut in the walls for light and air to permit the occupant to get in or out”. [11]
Wright observed that, in nature, the individuality of its attributes are seldom scarified. Unlike the classical buildings in which an order is establishes, for example a colonnade, then walls are added between them, reducing them to pilasters, with the result that every form is outraged, the whole an abominable mutation.
The Approach to Design:
“All architecture must begin there where they stand”[12]
Out of the principles of the organic, Frank Lloyd Wright maintained a design process throughout his career that he describes in his book the Future of Architecture. He strongly believed in building from within outward. To achieve this vision he started by determining which consideration came first in the design process. The first determinant was the ground. By this he meant the nature of site, soil and climate. The next consideration was the choice of available materials taking into account the financial cost. The third was the choice of means of power for construction. Man, machine or both? He believed that what rendered his buildings as creative was this process of from within outward, giving life the whole, and giving life to the structure by adopting the ideal of form and function are one, or organic.[13]
Wright believed that the character of the site is the beginning of any building which aspires to architecture. He argued that architects ought to accept the fact that the ground already has form.  This to him was a gift from nature to be cherished and accepted.[14] Therefore, in designing his domestic architecture he was careful about considering and incorporating certain elements. First was free association with the ground. Second, sunlight, vista and a spaciousness that conforms to a modern sense of demanded space.  The third element was privacy. Fourth was a free pattern for the arrangement of rooms to be occupied by the families. He argued that as families vary so must the houses. However, he affirmed that these requirements should be incorporated in the architecture of the building in an integral harmony of proportion to the human figure, so that the building protects and cherishes the individual’s vital necessities and fine sentiments.[15]
The Logic behind the Plan:
“I have great faith that if the thing rightfully put together in true organic senses with proportions actually right the picturesque will take care of itself”.[16]
Frank Lloyd Wright believed that all the forms in his plans are complete in themselves and frequently do duty at the same time from within and without as attributes of the whole. There was a tendency towards a greater individuality of the parts emphasized by more and more complete articulation. Moreover, the ground plans were the actual projection of a carefully considered whole.  The architecture wasn’t thrown up as an artistic exercise, a matter of elevation from a preconceived ground plan. The schemes were conceived in three dimensions as organic entities. Wright ventured to let the picturesque perspective fall how it will. With a sense of the incidental perspectives, he believed the design will develop. [17]
In the Future of Architecture and in an article in the architectural record he describes the logic behind the plans in his architecture. He mentions the most important factors in designing the plan which are materials, building methods, scale, articulation, expression or style. The logical norm for the scale of the building was the human scale. He believed that the unit of size of the building varies with the purpose and material of it, therefore he adopted a unit system for the plan, establishing a certain standardization. By adopting the human scale, he trusted nature to give the proper values to a proper whole. Materials also affected scale. He used the most natural material suiting the purpose. Using wood led to a slender plan, light in texture narrow in spacing. A stone or brick plan was heavy, black in masses and wider in spacing. In cast block building, the scale was done to be adequate to the sense of block, box and slab and there was more freedom in spacing.[18]
In his domestic architecture, he designed that house with a garden that arranges itself about and within it so that the individual can enjoy the sun and view while keeping privacy. He gave priority to the living room, given its status as the room common to all, adding a fireplace to it. The modern industrial developments allowed him to make the kitchen a part of the living room relating it to another part of the same. He occasionally added an extra space for reading or studying. By creating this association between living and dining he ensured the convenience and the privacy of the members of the family. Wright gave importance to the bathrooms making them large enough to accommodate for dressing rooms, closets for linen, occasionally a wardrobe with perhaps a couch in each. He made the bedrooms adjacent to the bathroom unit, designing them to be small, airy and easily accessible from the living room. [19] His logic is derived from the ideal of form and function are one.
The inspiration of his ideal grew from nature, not its form but its principles. In nature, an organism is a living one when all is part to the whole and whole is to the part.  Wright argued that this correlation which is found any plant or animal is a fundamental principle in organic architecture. He also maintained that any building should come to terms with the living human spirit.[20] Considering the individuality of the owner in the design process, led to certain puzzlement regarding the notion of style.
The Question of Style:
“Styles once developed soon become yardsticks for the blind, crushes for the lame, and resources for the impotent”.[21]
Frank Lloyd Wright asserted that he had enough types and forms my work to characterize the work of an architect but certainly not enough to characterize an architecture. To him there was no worse of an “imposition than to have some individual deliberately fix the outward forms of his concept of beauty upon the future of a free people or even a growing city”.[22]
The form may differ, he asserted, but in every case the motif is adhered to throughout so that it is not too much to say that each building aesthetically is cut from one piece of goods and consistently hangs together with an integrity impossible otherwise. In a fine art sense the designs grew as natural plants grow, the individuality of each is integral and is as complete as skill, time, strength, and circumstances would permit. The method in itself does not necessarily produce a beautiful building, but it does provide a framework as a basic which has an organic integrity.[23]
Wright believed that style came as a byproduct of the process he maintained in his design. The way an architect achieves an integrity in his design came, first, by studying nature’s material to find the properties most suited for the purpose, then, by using organic architecture as guide, to unite these qualities to serve that purpose.[24]
In his plan Wright did use a form of standardization, a unit of size for the building. However, he warned against the tendency in the human mind to standardize. He viewed standardization as a mere tool, though indispensable, should be used to the extent that it leave the architect free to destroy it at will, to the extent only that it does not become a style, or an inflexible rule-is it desirable to the architect. It is desirable only to the extent that it is capable of new forms and remains the servant of those forms. He believed that standardization should be allowed to work, but never to master the process that yields the form.[25]
In his various designs Wright took into consideration the individuality of the occupant and his needs. Wright responded to the critics who suspected that individuality of the owner and occupant of the building is sacrificed to that of the architect who imposes his own upon everyone alike, by saying “An architect worthy of the name has individuality, it is true, his work will and should reflect it and his buildings will bear a family resemblance one to another. The individuality of the owner is first manifest in his choice of his architect, the individual to whom he entrusts his characterization. He sympathizes with his work; its expression suits him and this furnishes the common ground upon which client and architect may come together. Then, the architect with his ready technique, he conscientiously works for the client, idealizes his clients character and taste and makes him feel the building is his as it really to such an extent that he can truly say that he would rather have his own house than any other he has ever seen”[26]
In order to fully understand wright’s methodology, it is essential to look at how his principles have formed his designs and buildings. Looking at the Prairie house style and Taliesin, the examples show how Wright succeeded in maintaining his philosophy, while providing diversity of forms.
Prairie Houses:
In his book An American Architecture, Wright describes his love and fascination with prairie, along with the elements of the prairie that guided his designs.
I loved the prairie as great simplicity. And I saw that a little of height on the prairie was enough to look like much more. The natural tendency of every ill- considered thing on the prairie is to detach itself and stick out like a sore thumb in surrounding by nature perfectly quiet. All unnecessary heights have for that reason and the human scale, (other reasons, economic too) been eliminated. More intimate relation with outdoor environment and far-reaching vista is sought to balance the desired lessening of height.[27]
The Prairie style was an attempt by Wright to create an architecture that suited the American lifestyle and landscape. Strongly horizontal plan of house with a low sheltering roof, bands of art glass windows, stucco walls with wood banding, and outreaching garden walls had many of the features that characterized this version of Wright’s organic architecture.[28]
The Little house on Lake Minnetonka (figure1) is an example of how organic architecture is reflected in the house. The living room is the dominant space in the house. Mrs. Little was an accomplished musician and wanted the room to double as recital space. The height of the ceiling adds to the room’s grandeur. Flanked by two long walls with more than a dozen art glass windows on two levels, the room has the lightness of an outdoor pavilion. Clear glass was used in the leaded panels so that the views, the lake to one side and the forest to another, would not be obstructed. The delicate designs of lines and triangles, concentrated on the outer edges of the window, reach across several panels, creating a larger composition than on just the one window. The art glass skylight, an intricate checkerboard of tiny squares and triangles, are framed by heavy wood moldings.[29]
Wright focused on using an appropriate kind of furniture. The rectilinear Prairie Style furniture with the sturdy oak shapes of tables, cabinets, and chairs adapted easily to the houses scale. The vertical spindles of the radiator covers are repeated in the base of the print table and seem to capture the rhythm of the wood marking strips across the ceiling. The strong horizontality of the entire house and the room itself pulls the scale back down to a more human level.[30]
The Taliesin:
“No house should be a hill or anything or anything. It should be of the hill. Hill and house should live together, each happier for the other.”[31]
This is Wright famous quote regarding the Taliesin in Wisconsin (figure2). In studying Wright’s architecture it seems interesting to look at building he designed for him personally. This specific house is consistent, rich and appropriate in its management of prospect and refuge. It is also a gentler, more intimate, and more freely composed house than any others of wright’s works.[32]
In designing domestic architecture Wright regarded the house as refuge from two generalized and impersonal threats. One is climate the other is the social intrusion by the community.[33] When Wright built the Taliesin, he considered these two universal threats along with two personal threats, one external from his feeling of societal hostility for leaving his wife, the other internal from an inner sense of disorientation and confusion. [34] This attests to the individuality in his design.
He built the Taliesin encircling the side of the hill, with its back to wall, making it seem as if it was of the hill. However this placement and his famous quotation about this house don’t apply to previous prairie houses like the Hardy, Little, Ennis and Morris houses. Perhaps this placement was more related to the nature of the site, since in Taliesin the hill was inappropriate, partly because of Wright’s sense of it sanctity, but partly because he needed to have his the therefore, its back against the wall, for which purpose the hilltop could not work. Therefore he chose the hillside around which the living spaces were arranged.[35]
The dominant image was that of roofs which emerged randomly from the hillside vegetation, with a repetition of gentled shingled spaces, taking the slopes of the hills as their slopes. The deep overhanging eaves were all at uniform level, forming a continuous eave line.[36]
Wright argued on many occasions that he was trying to destroy the box, by which he meant the self-contained room of traditional domestic architecture. He used the open plans in the prairie houses. However in Taliesin, in spite of the fluid disposition of the rooms, there is no sense of an open plan, rich and complex but a box nevertheless. Unlike prairie, this living space did not open through articulating devices to any contiguous space, nor did any other rooms. This was appropriate at Taliesin where containment was deliberately sought and consistency developed in so many other ways.  Also, the terrace did not extend from either range of windows that released the view. It lay rather behind the scenes. Probably this issue was a provision of view downward to the valley from the living room. This view would have been frustrated by a terrace, especially by one with a solid plastered rail.[37]
The way Wright treated Taliesin in its particularity, attests to his claim that he didn’t adopt a style. The particularity of the site, the nature of materials, individuality and function were the determinants of the form of the building.
Wright’s philosophy revolved around the organic. He articulated his philosophy clearly in his various writings that totaled to more than one and half million words. He defined the word organic as an entity, part-to whole- as whole- is to part, intrinsic.[38] The ideal of the organic was form and function are one. This ideal guided his design process, the logic behind his revolutionary open plans and is reflected in his different works. And despite the differences in his works, he managed to maintain an organic integrity in his designs.
Image index:

Figure 1 [39]

Hildebrand, Grant. The Wright Space: Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Houses. Seattle: U of Washington, 1991.
Lind, Carla. The Wright Style. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Klinkowitz, Jerome. Frank Lloyd Wright and His Manner of Thought. Madison, Wisconsin: U of Wisconsin, 2014.
Wright, Frank Lloyd. The Future of Architecture. New York: Horizon, 1953.
Wright, Frank Lloyd, and Andrew Devane. In the Cause of Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright: Essays. New York: Architectural Record, 1975.
Wright, Frank Lloyd, and Donald D. Walker. An American Architecture. New York: Horizon, 1955.

Economical Aspects of Architectural Design

Basics of Project Management
Contents (Jump to)
a) Describe and explain the difference between real estate and other assets / economic goods (e.g. capital products).
b) Give at least three reasons why a client make an investment in real estate.
c) In line with the scenario, List and explain all of the following:- the reasons for the client to appoint a Project Manager, referring to a least five (5) client’s tasks
d) The kind/type of skills a Project Manager should have, and explain why s/he should be generalist within a client’s organization.
e) List, explain and debate the major aspects/characteristics, to optimize the investment cost and subsequent (follow-up) costs within the design under constant consideration of the intended purpose. Also explain the basic interrelation between investment cost and subsequent cost.
As the instructed project manager for an office building, you are being asked to analyse the architect’s design concerning economical aspects, by answering all the tasks in this brief.
Task 1.1
a) Describe and explain the difference between real estate and other assets / economic goods (e.g. capital products).
In order to know the differences between real estate and financial assets, one must first understand what these assets are. First and foremost, real estate is all of the value-generating properties and commodities owned by the client, being physical items such as lands and buildings on which you can put a specific value on. Such value is determined by various factors like the location, functionality and cost. Meanwhile, financial assets are all those transactional instruments which can be converted into cash. In fact, such assets can be in the form of trade receivables, shares or bonds and are done to represent an underlying value or percentage of the real estate. The difference between the two, is that such financial assets are more liquid when compared with real estate since they can be easily converted into cash. In fact, financial assets such as stocks can be easily sold within a matter of hours while real estate normally takes months to sell. Another difference between the two, is that the actual property may experience depreciation through the years while financial assets may generate more cash flow due to perpetual growth over the years. Needless to say, one must keep that in real estate the client would own the actual land, a land component which will have an infinite lifetime. Also, financial assets may possess a greater risk since the investment being done can’t be physically seen or studied. Finally, one must also keep in mind that the economic cycle is always changing by time (as seen in the image below) and therefore if such investment is to be done, the client must have an idea of the economy’s situation in the near future.
b) Give at least three reasons why a client makes an investment in real estate.
There are various reasons why a client should invest in real estate. These three main reasons are;


Such procedure is considered to be an old practice which is still commonly used nowadays, were the client buys a property and rent it out to a tenant/s. In fact, in such system the client/landlord is responsible to maintain such property in a condition and ensure that all taxes and other fees are also paid by this individual. On the other hand, the landlord will then request the tenant to pay a specific fee to cover all of the cost for maintenance and accommodation. Usually, when the mortgage of such property has been paid, the consequent rents will become a profit to the client.


Unlike the rental procedure, trading involves the buying of property with the intention of holding them for a short period before sell them in order to make profit. Especially when it comes to undervalued properties, a prospective client can make a substantial amount of profit for a low capital investment especially when renovation are done.


Although the previously mentioned reasons can offer a reasonable profit to the client, one must not forget that once an investment is done on a real estate it can offer multiple possibilities to develop such property. Therefore it is very important that when a client is buying a property, one makes sure that such investment can offer such profit possibilities in the future.
Task 1.2
a) In line with the scenario, List and explain all of the following:- the reasons for the client to appoint a Project Manager, referring to a least five (5) client’s tasks (200 words)
In order to have an optimum office building, one must have a combination of a specific target definition, adequate planning and professional execution from a team having an expert understanding. If adequate planning is used within the timeframe of the office building, it can reduce losses while also saving from the overall cost and time. In fact, such client tasks may include:

Schedule Monitoring
Quality Assurance
Decision making
Cost Monitoring
Permit compatibility

Although these are only few of the tasks that fall under project management, for this reason a project manager is appointed on behalf of the client. Such appointment must be done in order to have an individual which can make decisions and report back to the client. Since the office building may require a substantial amount of time to manage, a team of project management must be set up in order to realise the client’s concept. Within the office building the project manager will handle the mentioned client tasks like monitoring of schedule to ensure the deadline date is met, monitor cost to keep in line with the budget, conduct quality assurance to make sure they are within the agreed specifications and also support the client in the remaining tasks. Such procedure must be done to reduce the load or handle those which cannot be delegated by the client.
Slide 68- understand with relation to time cost and quality….
b) The kind/type of skills a Project Manager should have, and explain why s/he should be generalist within a client’s organization. (200 words)
As the project manager of the office building, it is important to have a number of skills that ensures one can be comfortable with the specific project type and responsibilities associated with it. Such responsibilities may include process organisation, target definition, planning process and construction implementation. The project manager has to be able to give the best advice to the client, while building a healthy communication with the architects and specialists found within the project. Furthermore, by clearly defining the ‘Target Definition’, the project manager will ensure that all phases are done one after the other in the smoothest way possible. More importantly, the project manager must be also a generalist within the client’s organization in order to handle both the stages of the project and participants involved. A generalist project manager, will have enough experience to know that when involving participants at the early stages of the project they will put their knowhow and transmit their information to achieve a better overall outcome. Furthermore, such project manager will be able to look into the various project processes and create specific management functions in order to integrate the planner’s objectives with the demand of the executing companies.
think about cost implication…remember the balcony alteration in midi project
Task 1.3
c) In line with the scenario, List and explain the differences between line and staff functions (Project Leadership and Project Controlling) within different project management functions, giving at least five (5) examples concerning client’s tasks.
During the project leadership and project controlling of the said office building, one can decide to choose either line or staff function.
Line Function
In this system, the hierarchical structure starts with the client and continuous with the other participants involved within the project. Since our office building is relatively complex, the client may not be able to manage all tasks and so, by assigning a project manager he will be responsible to handle the various client’s tasks. This will give a good idea of the project’s management requirements since they can directly impact the outcome of the project. Such client’s tasks are;

Project Organisation
Ensure permit compatibility
Processes execution
Ensure project financing

Such procedure, may also be adopted when the clients does not have a certain management knowhow. In such cases the engaged project manager will act as a “Temporary CEO” and represent the client in various managerial functions especially when it comes to the control of planner and executing entities.However, one must keep in mind that the project manager will still report to the client’s request.
Staff Function
On the other hand, within a staff function the client no longer has the ability to act as the primary deciding role but now he has to report to the project’s consultants. This system gives the client the responsibility to control this project (office building), however constant reporting must be made with the project manager. Add someting
Task 1.4
d) List and explain the differences between transferable and non-transferable client’s tasks. (400 words)
In large scale project

Transferable tasks
Non-transferable tasks

e) List, explain and debate the major aspects/characteristics, to optimize the investment cost and subsequent (follow-up) costs within the design under constant consideration of the intended purpose. Also explain the basic interrelation between investment cost and subsequent cost. (500 words)

One must ensure that the design of the scenario matches the concepts and sketches
Make sure that the concept has been followed to ensure that the agreed initial concept is after all met.
Any saving done at design stage one must see a saving at a later post-commission.


Architectural Design Proposal of Reading Space

3.1 Historical Purpose & Context
If we surmise that temporary architecture is, essentially, something that is not permanent, then in one form or another – as stated – it has existed since antiquity, with examples traced “from prehistoric wooden huts and shelters, through medieval stage sets, circuses and world fairs, to the mobile home and post-war pre-fabs, and wartime and disaster relief.” Interestingly, as early as 58 B.C.E in ancient Rome, such architecture functioned as “a form of revolution” – ancient Romans circumventing governmental opposition to permanent amphitheatres by building temporary versions – with the Metropolitan Museum of Art noting that despite their impermanent nature, this architecture was “a rich celebration and an expression of anti-establishment ideals.”

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Together with other classical forms, a revival of temporary architecture was also particularly prevalent during the Renaissance; civic groups would welcome King Henry II of France to their cities with “festivals showcasing the best and most elaborate in temporary design of the time,” such as the specifically commissioned Fountain de Innocents (1550) – a collaboration between architect Pierre Lescot and sculptor Jean Goujan. As the University of Toronto’s Professor of Art History, Christy Anderson, notes: “for designers and architects of the Renaissance the ephemeral nature of the installations lent themselves to design innovations believed to be too unconventional or extravagant for lasting architecture [and] afforded the opportunity for experimentation.” Such events were used as tantalising opportunities for the realisation of a new style, made real perhaps for a single day; the transient enjoyably consumed, creating a taste for the permanent.
In contemporary architecture, we have become more familiar with the temporary as expressed at exhibitions and pavilions; Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s L’Espirit Nouveau Pavilion (1925), Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion (1929), and Alison and Peter Smithson’s House of the Future for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in London (1956) – each showcasing their designers’ stimulating philosophies and ideas on the future of architecture, and ‘advertising’ these compelling forms via memorable, provocative images. Moreover, these challenges to established or conventional approaches to design were yet further inflamed by Archigram, with mobile, inflatable or temporary projects – albeit resigned to paper and remaining unbuilt – during the 1960’s and 70’s.
3.2 Academic Discourse & Urban Change
However, it was the aftermath of the great recession in 2008, which crippled economies – with the construction, architecture and engineering sectors arguably hit the hardest – and the inevitable temporary suspension of many large-scale projects that ensued which elevated small-scale, bottom-up spatial interventions from niche to mainstream practice, and subsequently exposed them to more intense levels of critical review. Though this opened up possibilities to “test scenarios and subvert preconceptions of what our cities should be like,” giving architects and designers, often young, the opportunity to “push the boundaries of architecture and [take] the city back into their own hands,” as Cate St. Hill writes in her RIBA published book ‘This is Temporary,’ very soon, and perhaps unavoidably, established companies found they could make use of these strategies too, “evaporating [away] any freshness,” writes Douglas Murphy in his article for the Architectural Review: ‘The Pop-Up Problem.’
As a consequence, it has now become utterly commonplace for food & drink, fashion or design retailers, for example, to make their inaugural entrance into any given city via a succession of ‘trendy’ pop-ups before the ‘proper’ shop opens. Though this could be considered fairly commonplace ‘cool-chasing,’ it stems from the constant procedure of reducing risk: a temporary shop doesn’t require payment for a full lease, and it also has an aura of edgy ‘cool.’ These types of structure therefore offer us a “corporate regurgitation of anti-corporate commerce.”
Importantly, and perhaps more pressingly, in academic and mainstream media discourse, more original spatial intervention projects, which featured smiling locals and were so often portrayed as joyous and likeable, have also since been subject to a considerable amount of criticism – primarily contemplating if the “actual impact of these projects is overestimated.” Though proponents of the ‘pop-up’ refer to the wider impact an intervention can have – galvanising local communities to change the way their public spaces and buildings are used to the benefit of everyone – in practice “the actual effect remains limited to the most local scale, involving or reaching out to just a handful of locals.” This is due, in part, to the perceived lack of ‘scalability,’ as Ella Harris highlights in her article for The Guardian: the “possibility of scaling up such projects, beyond their immediate surroundings, is often minimal” due to the “specific local conditions.”
Therefore, when addressing if temporary architecture can act as a catalyst for urban change in the context of this thesis, ‘a catalyst for urban change’ relates to the ability of the project or intervention to have an impact on an area wider than its immediate surroundings, stimulating local inhabitants to actively seek to utilise public spaces for betterment of society, or to at least raise the question.
4.0 Formulating a Position
4.1 Understanding Current Trends
Despite such criticism into the perceived overestimated effect or corporate commercialisation of temporary architecture projects, there are a plethora of younger architects and designers that are ’emerging’ as a new generation of a “subversive, socially-minded” practices, each combatting these concerns by “inspiring new definitions of architecture” – not just in terms of the physical structure, but in the process of creating them. These practices all share a concern for engaging people and enriching local communities, and their projects are well-considered and endowing ways to create animated, deeply-rooted places in the neglected, disused and sometimes inaccessible parts of a city. Therefore, before attempting to formulate my position within the field of temporary architecture, it was necessary to speak to a few of these firms in order to develop a more succinct, albeit limited, understanding of the temporary situation in this moment in time.
Set up by Kevin Hayley and David Chambers in 2009, Aberrant Architecture is a London-based “multidisciplinary studio and think-tank” who create temporary structures backed up by rigorous research into the history of a place and the construction of whimsical narratives, “inspired by the way contemporary lives are evolving,” Kevin explains. Featuring projects from a tiny mobile theatre towed by a campervan, to an interactive instillation built in collaboration with local community groups, their work is “playful, provocative and interactive.”
Interestingly, both Kevin and David agreed on the two most prominent driving forces between each of their projects – specifically ‘setting’ and ‘reusability.’ First is the idea of historical heritage, or ‘setting’ – “we always approach a project with attention to the history-we look to engage people, perhaps through participation events, in a way that connects them to a story or history,” Kevin stresses, as it is this side of the projects which the public are “increasingly embracing, and really enjoy.”
Also, and equally as importantly, is their desire for temporary projects to have a lasting effect: “if something is there for three days or 30 years, does it matter? Surely it’s about measuring the effect it has on a community.” However, though they both agreed that “the actual physical thing is temporary but the activity or use should be very permanent,” they also stressed that being able to reuse the structure was important – “if something stays in one place for a long time, we’ve found it can lose its appeal really quickly. With mobile structures, as soon as you move it to a different context it becomes new again.”
Contrastingly, Assemble – a multidisciplinary collective founded in 2010 and comprised of 16 members each under the age of 30 – champion a “self-initiated style of building that engage communities in the making process,” and rely on “collaborative teamwork,” as Amica Dall joyfully explained. Fascinatingly, Amica and Jane Hall revealed that this preference of such projects stems from a desire to “involve the community in a more holistic way,” as habitually, they “only participate in a small part of the process of creation, [usually via consultation groups] and involvement often only starts after most of the more critical decisions have been made.”
Self-built projects – such as the ‘Granby Workshop’ in Liverpool, built in collaboration with local artists and craftspeople – afford the chance for everyone involved “to be part of the whole life of a project.” By collectively “working out how to make it possible in the first instance, having to fabricate them ourselves, and then living and working with the outcome whilst running the projects,” this method allows them to “understand the consequence of our design decisions.” This approach to temporary architecture allows the physical structure to “underscore some doubts in some areas and give confidence in others,” affording a continuously evolving understanding of what a community needs. Ultimately, both Jane and Amica agreed that “working with people and for people brings extraordinary opportunity to learn from them, to grow sensitive to new things,” and most importantly, to “find things you weren’t already looking for.”
4.2 Addressing Systemic Societal Issues
Undoubtedly then, ‘pop-up’ architecture can offer something rare: “design that is undiluted.” Permanent, traditional architecture often needs to serve multiple purposes and changing surroundings – the Shard, for example, is at once an office building, transit hub, hotel and retail space. Contrastingly, temporary architecture, as exemplified by Aberrant and Assemble, can “advance a singular purpose and concentrate its impact.”
However, in completing further research, what also became evident, and highly significant, was that the ‘singular purposes’ very rarely address some of the ‘real-world’ systemic challenges we face in society, especially in major cities, with just a handful of examples responding to challenges like social inequality, youth unemployment or public health and wellbeing, for example. Moreover, in the few instances where projects do address such issues, services are regularly provided by “unpaid, well-meaning volunteers instead of professionals,” often filling the “gaps left negligent (local) governments.” With pop-up interventions providing services for free, local governments might well be pleased to see that they “can get away with” formerly expensive services. Further still, as Ella Harris writes for The Guardian, in celebrating these projects, “are we simply distracting from the lack of structural public provision in these areas – and worse still, normalising, even glorifying, its absence?”
4.3 Formulating my position
Therefore, as discussed, in conducting interviews with specialised practices, there were several reoccurring key themes which became immediately apparent, and naturally proved decisive in narrowing my research scope – chiefly, involving the public in an aspect of building or completing the structure, and using a specific element(s) of a site’s historical heritage as a way of engaging the public in a larger story.
However, following further research, the noticeable lack of projects, events or constructs attempting to address some of the systemic societal issues we face in modern society – and the possibility that even the minority that do may simply be masking the absence of appropriate structural public provisions in those areas – was highlighted, again adding to a more refined research scope which could look at the possibility of using architecture to address one such challenge directly.
As a consequence, formulating my position came as a direct result of twinning these two key themes, and attempting to address them simultaneously. Firstly, building forms expressive of context – styles that embrace the environment they inhabit – have always stimulated my interest, so in meeting Aberrant and Assemble and understanding that the uniqueness of a design can be found in the particular – embedded in the lives, the people, and in the history of a city – the first theme lay in a specific alchemy of Architecture; using the combination of distinctive physical, societal and/or cultural contexts to produce innovative, site-responsive design. The second, in identifying a lack of contemporary projects addressing ‘real-world’ societal challenges, lay in endeavouring to understand if temporary architecture could be used to do just that, or to at least promote such issues into the public domain. The more defined scope for this thesis therefore became an investigation into ‘if/how Temporary Architecture can act as a catalyst for urban change by specifically addressing ‘real-world’ problems through a contextual approach to design.‘
5.0 Project narrative alchemy
5.1 City + Site Specific Investigations
Embracing Aberrant’s view that temporary architecture projects can lose their appeal if they remain in one place for an extended period of time, and our joint view that such projects can, and should, be representative of, or embrace their local historical heritage, the decision was subsequently made for the project to move around a selection of sites in Canterbury – with each site located in appropriate open public spaces, or pockets of disused, inactive, space to test the structures relative ‘success’ in various locations (as outlined on the ‘site locations’ map, left). Therefore, in order to conceive a design taking a combination of Canterbury’s distinctive historical, physical, societal and/or cultural contexts as its inspiration, studies were conducted into each of the prospective sites so that it could appropriate itself in each site, whilst also being representative of Canterbury’s heritage as a whole to produce a holistic theme for the project.
Following these investigations, one overriding theme became immediately apparent – Canterbury’s vast, enduring, and continuing affinity with literature. Throughout recent centuries, Canterbury has proved home to several authors, poets and playwrights, and the city has been an inspiration to the writers of English literature. Playwright Christopher Marlowe, after whom the Marlowe Theatre is named, was born in a house in St George’s Street, Canterbury in 1564, and despite being a contemporary of Shakespeare, was the most popular playwright of his day, and is often acknowledged as the ‘Father of English drama.’
Furthermore, Charles Dickens also regularly visited Canterbury, and the protagonist of one of Dicken’s most loved novels, David Copperfield, has strong connections with the city. Canterbury is also incredibly famous for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales collection, which have stood the test of time for more than 600 years and are known throughout the world. Additionally, the instantly recognisable Rupert Bear (which features in the Canterbury Heritage Museum), and Ian Flemming’s James Bond book ‘You Only Live Twice,’ were both conceived in Canterbury, whilst Flemming’s ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was based on Canterbury’s colourful, local character, Count Zborowski. Moreover, Canterbury’s Buttermarket – situated directly opposite the Cathedral entrance in the heart of Canterbury’s historical town for more than 800 years – features in the wartime classic film ‘A Canterbury Tale.’
In addition to current and historical contextual ties, it was also important to consider links which may have been lost – especially those concerned with the built environment – a collection of which are remembered in Paul Crampton’s ‘Canterbury’s Lost Heritage’. In Canterbury, numerous buildings disappeared in the twentieth century – a century, of course, of vast changes and technological progress. However, though the famous Blitz of Canterbury is one of the main tributaries of this, it has “now been widely accepted that the City Council’s ruthless post-bombing clearance policy accounted for many more properties than the Luftwaffe,” as the city fathers were “seduced by the ideas of Corbusier and the contemporary styles exhibited at the Festival of Britain.”
Interestingly, though there was “no special reason why they should disappear” – one of the most lost building typologies was Schools (and School Buildings). Demolished, with the site sold for other uses – such as the Simon Langton Boy’s School which occupied the current Whitefriars site in 1959 – or “in more recent years, closed and amalgamated with adjacent schools” – the majority of Canterbury’s principal Schools are now located on the outskirts of the city. This prompted teachers like Frances Bingham to initiate her own one-room schoolhouse, which has since been converted into a family home. Teaching children from the ages of 4-10, Frances taught 32 students over a period of 6 years in Canterbury, achieving “the same results as students who were educated in separate classrooms,” with some of her students going on to become “lawyers, engineers, teachers and nurses.”
Therefore, given the city’s, and each respective site’s, respective affinity with literature – expressed in all forms – and education, via the loss of School building and the resulting captivating story of Frances, the contextual narrative of the project was to draw on Canterbury’s historical literature and educative ties as a way to draw activity to a space.
5.2 Identification of Associated ‘Real-World’ Problem
Upon identifying a ‘contextual narrative,’ sequentially, the next step was to identify a ‘real-world’ problem associated with both literature and education, and, naturally, the logical bridge between these two themes is reading. Interestingly, though reading is a pleasurable pastime for many, following further research into current discourse around reading in schools, in recent years the UK has seen a serious decline in the number of parents reading with their children, as the headlines in Figure XX demonstrate, to the point where several studies have found the situation to be one of the fastest growing systematic societal challenges faced in the current climate.

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In a survey conducted by the Oxford University Press, it was found that “more than half of primary school teachers have seen a least two children begin formal education with no experience of being told stories at home,” whilst another study managed by YouGov found that “only 51% of children said they love or like reading books for fun, compared to 58% in 2012, and 60% in 2010.” Moreover, according to the report, only 54% of children up to the age of five are read to at home at least five days a week, with this declining to 34% of six to eight-year-olds, and drastically, just 17% of nine to 11-year-olds.
The studies also discovered that the main causes of this issue stem from the home-life, with parents often finding “a lack of available space at home,” being “too busy” with other commitments, “unable to afford” appropriate literature, or simply “feeling embarrassed at their own inability to read to their children.” However, Pie Corbett, an educational advisor to the government, stated that: “This isn’t just an economic thing – it’s not just people who come from poor backgrounds, it’s across the whole of society. You get a lot of children coming from very privileged backgrounds who’ve spent a lot of time in front of the TV and not enough time snuggled up with a good book. The TV does the imagining for you – and it doesn’t care whether you’re listening or not.” This is despite research clearly demonstrating that children who are read to on a regular basis before, and after, they start school are most likely to succeed – “it’s a key predictor in terms of educational success,” Corbett continued, as “children who are told stories are the ones who first form abstract concepts across the curriculum- [and though] parents may have lost faith with this idea, education is the way out of poverty.”
Furthermore, these studies have shown that “regular access to books has a direct impact on pupils’ results, irrespective of parents’ own education, occupation and social class,” as “keeping just 20 books in the home can boost children’s chances of doing well at school,” it was claimed. Finally, YouGov’s study of over 17,000 young people also revealed a strong correlation between children’s literacy and what goes on outside school – specifically that being raised in a household with a large amount of literature “would result in a child remaining in education for an average of three years longer” than those with little or no access, which could be “the difference between leaving school at 18 and going to university, which can be worth up to £200,000 more in lifetime earnings.”
5.3 Project Narrative Construction
Therefore, given the systemic societal issue currently faced in the UK with the number of children reading with their parents being in sharp decline, and that several studies have repeatedly, and explicitly, identified that reading at home and access to books has a proven, positive impact on a child’s future life, the project would aim to address this issue specifically – either by attempting to ‘solve’ the issue directly, or simply raising awareness of it – via a ‘contextual’ approach to design which would use Canterbury’s historical, and continuing, affinity with literature and education as its main source of inspiration.
6.0 Design response and realisation
6.1 Design Response
Out of this defined project narrative – and a subsequent series of design iterations and developments (for which Kevin from Aberrant kindly provided assistance and advice, and are shown in the Appendix), and scale and structural models – was born the ‘Fun-Size Story Box’ of Canterbury, as shown.
The final design was a 2.5 meter cube, constructed entirely of softwood and corrugated cardboard (as they are low-value, easy to source and condition materials), featuring both recessed and projecting volumes inspired by stacked books, and the nature of Canterbury High Street’s various building facades. The structure was also to ‘open up’ to the public, much like a book opening along the spine, to reveal the interior performance and open reading spaces. Via a series of these fun and colourful reading corners, story creation + performance spaces, and open seating areas, the design aimed to provide parents and children with a safe and fun architectural intervention in which to read together. The projected volumes were also to be transparent, so as to make the bookshelves visible from the exterior, creating a sense of intrigue, and the selection of books available would be free for children to take home, donated from local retailers and charity shops, such as the Demelza Children’s Hospice, and HMV.
The ‘recessed reading corners’ and ‘story creation + performance spaces’ come as a direct result of twinning classroom reading techniques with brain development in children research data, outlining where, why and how children like to read. According to the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University, traditional ‘reading corners’ employed in schools do not conform to “children’s actual reading habits,” with most spaces tailored instead to improving scores in assessments. Alternatively, children actually prefer “smaller, more interesting and inviting reading spaces” – a small space, often hidden away, where children can enjoy a book – therefore, the ‘Story Box’ features recessed areas where children can do just that with their parents.
Furthermore, in early years, children learn best through “active, engaged, meaningful experiences,” and research suggests that “learning is easier when experiences are interconnected rather than compartmentalised into narrow subject areas.” This is echoed by “ground-breaking” kindergarten architect, Takaharu Tezuka, who states in The Guardian that “designing for children involves recognising their right to play as well as learn,” as from “these experiences, they construct their own knowledge and apply their taught knowledge by interacting with their environments.” Therefore, rather than having all reading material collected in one space, the ‘Story Box’ has books arranged throughout the structure, with the provision for interconnected interior and exterior ‘story creation + performance spaces,’ where children can imagine their own story with their parents, and then act it out, engaging them in a playful experience.
6.2 Council + Legislative Influence
In addition to research data, council guidance and legislation were hugely influential on the design. Prior to any formal discussions with representatives of the council, a ‘Planning Analysis’ was conducted to identify any legislative and/or planning requirements which the project may or may not have to adhere to – forming a ‘paper trail.’ This study found that as this project’s Temporary Structure would be classed within the Building Regulations Exemption as a “Class 4 – Temporary Building,” it would subsequently be exempt from several, if not all, regulations, providing it did not (amongst other possible ‘objections’) “remain where erected for more than 28 days,” and the floor area did “not exceed 30m².”
The project was subsequently designed following these requirements, however, the design continuously evolved following feedback from council representatives David Kemp (CCC Property Asset Manager), and Andy Jeffery (CCC Emergency Planning & Events Officer) – all of which is collated in the appendix ‘Council Correspondence.’ This correspondence tackled many issues, such as; ensuring children didn’t get their fingers caught in hinges, impeding pedestrians or emergency services vehicles, proximity to any highways, gaining relevant liability insurance, and proving the projects structural integrity. Once these issues were satisfied, and all required documentation was completed and accepted (Event Application Form, Events Policy Terms + Conditions, Event Management Plan, Events Risk Assessment and Public Liability Insurance Certificate) – permission was granted to stage the event in the Buttermarket and Marlowe Theatre Forecourt on the weekend of the 11th-12th February 2017.
7.0 Implementation and feedback
7.1 Placement
Despite a fully designed and rationalised scheme, like many temporary architecture structures, the project was affected by time and financial constraints, and as a result, only one of the two sides to the ‘Story Box’ project was fully realised and constructed – as outlined in the appendix ‘Construction + Realisation.’ Yet, despite the unfortunate inclement weather conditions, the project was implemented on site (in the Buttermarket, between 11th-12th February 2017), acting as a prototype to test the validity or relative success of each part of the design, and project.
Furthermore, though the event only lasted for two days (running from 10am to 5pm both days), and adverse weather ultimately hampered opening times and the possibility to set-up in more than 2 of the prospective sites, there was sufficient opportunity to engage with members of the community, and to receive valuable feedback.
7.2 Representative Data – Movement
Firstly, due to the stated limitations, it is important to note that the data collected doesn’t represent a statistically significant number, therefore cannot be wholly accurate (this data was recorded by myself, and the 2 other ‘staff’ members present throughout the day). However, one of the main ambitions of the project was to attempt to attract people to (or ‘activate’) pockets of often neglected or disused space, to highlight that these spaces can be re-invented and used for something more – and in this sense the project was successful. Due to the weather conditions on the first day, the project was set up under the arcade of arches on Burgate Road, and though this was not envisaged, it meant that the project was truly located in ‘dead space’ as, on average, only 20 people pass this location every 10 minutes (throughout the day), and of that number less than 10% (2 out of 20) stop in the immediate area for more than 30 seconds. However, whilst the event was held, though the ‘people traffic’ remained fairly constant, the amount of people stopping for more than 30 seconds trebled to 30% as people stopped to inspect, or engage with, the structure. On average, parents and children who stopped spent 17 minutes with the structure – a significant increase.
On the second day, when set up in the more exposed Buttermarket Square (in considerably better weather), on average, the amount of people passing through the site was much higher, at around 120 every 10 minutes, whilst people stopped for around 13 minutes. Again, though ‘traffic’ remained constant, persons who stopped at the structure spent an average of 37 minutes there – almost a 300% increase in time spent in the site.
7.3 Community Engagement + Feedback
Aside from statistical data, the design featured “tell us what you think” message boards and Post-it notes, whilst several interviews were video recorded (stills of which can be found in the appendices) – affording parents and children opportunities to express their opinions, either written or verbally. As shown in Figure XX, the written feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with parents agreeing that – in attempting to raise awareness of declining reading levels – the structure was a “good idea-[and] interesting for architecture.” One user wrote that she though the project was “a really creative idea, imaginative and engaging- [with] fairy tales brought to life before your eyes,” before, interestingly, adding that “it captures your dreams with your child which may be lost on a busy shopping day,” and stating that “nothing is more important than a parent seeing their child’s imagination grow.” Similarly, a mother, Jane, who took the time to read with her 6-year-old daughter, Emma, stated that the structure was a “really great use of space” showing that “you can create engaging and creative spaces for public engagement without costing loads!”
This sentiment was also echoed in the video interviews, with one mother stating that “it’s nice to have somewhere to sit and read because they [her children] get fed up around the shops, giving a little bit of time for them” before adding that “it’s such a simple idea, but no-one else has ever thought of it before.” In another interview, Adam, a father of two girls added: “It’s very homely and cosy. We took the girls to visit the Cathedral, but they got a bit bored, and kept talking about coming back to the Story Box the whole way round. As you can see, they’re having a whale of a time drawing all over the walls. I think the durability of it, and the fact you can just scribble all over it is great because they can’t do that at home!” Fascinatingly, though blank “create your own story” pages were placed on the interior walls as a place for children to draw and write, most children drew directly onto the cardboard walls, an unintended feature that another parent appreciated: “Great portable pop-up space ideal to give kids somewhere to be free and creative to draw on the walls (like they can’t do at home!)”
Moreover, during the event, I had the opportunity to observe if the project was actually attracting parents who weren’t necessarily reading wi

Are Architectural Manifestos Important?

Do you think that Architectural Manifestos are useful

tools for Architecture? Why or why not? Be specific.

Architectural manifestos are public declarations that are created in order to have a specific intention

and opinion about a certain issue within architecture, that the writer wants to tackle. Manifestos can

be seen useful or not useful by, specific audiences and the topics they cover. In exploring this

question, I would like to compare between manifestos written by architects exploring: Classical

Architecture, Modernism, Post-Modernism and Futurism. Through comparing between these

differing manifestos, I hope to become aware to the effectiveness of each one and how they

affected the style of architecture at a specific period. Some believe that architecture cannot be

made without organizing people to help make it, as it is thought that the birth of architecture

mirrors the birth of organized societies. Therefore architecture, politics and civilization are all

extremely intimately connected. Written manifestos can be defined by the writing style and political

view that takes place within some manifestos. A manifesto isn’t distinguished by the length, it is

distinguished between other writing styles by the language, grammar and punctuation used, thus I

will explore the particular ways each manifesto is written and find what distinguishes them from

other forms of writing.

Andrea Palladio inspired the European style of Palladian architecture in the early 14th century. In

Palladio’s book ‘The Four Books of Architecture’, he discusses a specific way in which to build and use

the materials in order to create a strong and solid building or structure. Palladio states that the

strength and duration of a structure depends on its “walls [being] thicker below than above” [1] which

will make the walls be “carried directly upright” [2]. Additionally, he declares that all “the upper

columns [be] directly perpendicular to the those that are underneath” [3] and all “openings of doors

and windows be one on top of the other” [4], as then “the solid is on top of the solid… and void on top

of the void” [5], showing architect how to build a structure through his ‘correct’ way to do so. To my

knowledge and understanding Palladio’s manifesto involves the declaration of the style and way in

which he believes structures should be built, but this is done in a long and less effective way then

the more recent manifestos that I will explore.

Although Andrea Palladio was inspired by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio’s work on classical architecture

and how he tends to gloss over much contemporary variation in architectural form and his view of

the Greek history that he bases his modes of architecture on. Vitruvius’ book, ‘The 10 Books on

Architecture’ encapsulates in book IV the three modes of architecture that present part of his

manifesto. The first mode was invented by Dorus, ruler of Achaia and Peloponnesus, he built several

temples which were then copied by Athenians following further expansion. As the builders were

unsure of the proportions used by Dorus, they turned to the form of the herculean male was foot

was supposed to be one sixth of his height. Therefore, the Doric column was created to be in height

six times the width of the column at its base. Thus, the figurative idea of the human form derives

from here and was then further created to make the Ionic and Corinthian column; which were the

classical order of columns in Ancient Greek Architecture. Vitruvius believed that architects focus

ought to be around the three themes when designing any structure; firmitas (strength), utiitas

(functionality), and venustas (beauty). Many abided by these three themes in Ancient Greece, this

was what his manifesto was mainly based on at the start of his 10 books.

A manifesto by a famous architect may be read by anyone studying or exploring the relationship

between politics and architecture. Manifestos are believed to be created to distinguish between the

different eras within architecture and how they changed through the political background of the

writing architect or through the change in style of building. Architectural manifestos can be the

length of 10 books, as Vitruvius’ manifesto is, or as short as one book that goes into enough detail.

Palladio’s and Vitruvius’ manifestos differ in many ways, although one is based on the other, both

people have had different defining experiences that they believe in and differing inspiration,

 including the background of architectural knowledge of both architects. This is shown through the

differing themes in which their manifestos are both focused on. As Vitruvius has three main themes

of architecture while Palladio’s architecture was thought to be “governed by reason and by the

principles of classical antiquity” [6], which the principles are based of Vitruvius’ theories so do stand for

similar reasoning but were developed by Palladio in the latter 16th century. Therefore, it is believed

that their manifestos had an interconnecting link between architectural writing and politics, while

some other manifestos might have a weaker link between the two.

Nevertheless, although Andrea Palladio was originally inspired by Vitruvius, his architectural

platform was specifically surrounding the laws of symmetry, the use of pediments and proportions,

which a few centuries later were rivalled by the Gothic form of architecture. As Augustus Pugin

believed it to be unsuitable for Anglican and Anglo-Catholic worship structures. Alas, Le Corbusier’s

modernism became widely recognized by architects a few centuries later. Conflicting with classical

architecture, Le Corbusier’s minimalistic architecture became popular among architects as a new

approach to creating structures.

Le Corbusier was an influential key role in the modernization of urbanism. As mentioned by

Frederick Etchells in the introduction of Le Corbusier’s book ‘Towards A New Architecture’, Etchells

mentions that the book may “annoy” [7] people, as Le Corbusier isn’t many peoples favourite due to

his manifesto of architecture. Although the book is said to “certainly stimulate” [8] as it is a significant

influence on the modern understanding and study of architecture. Le Corbusier’s ‘guiding principles’

of a new architecture discuss “the two things that march together” [9]; the engineer and the architect.

The engineer is thought to be an individual inspired by the “law of economy and governed by

mathematical calculation” [10], while the architect builds a structure that is dependent on the feelings

of the person as then it creates a relationship that echoes within the person, as Le Corbusier states

“in accordance with…heart and our understanding” [11], implying that only one this connection is made

then the architect has fulfilled their purpose and abided by Le Corbusier’s principles.

Additionally, he talks of “three reminders to architects” [12]; mass, surface and plan, which some would

say are the underlying basis of what his architecture is built upon. Le Corbusier’s manifesto that

starts in the first chapter of his book, titled ‘argument’, he brings about some of the key arguments

of modernist architecture and his beliefs within constructing and building. These arguments are

mainly bought about in short and straight to the point sentences, such as; “the ‘styles’ are a lie” [13],

“the necessity for order” [14] and “the plan is the generator” [15]. These key arguments that Le Corbusier believes in connect architecture to politics and to his beliefs of what people should believe in,

according to him. In this first chapter, there are headings to each ‘argument’, that are short

paragraphs explaining his exact views on each matter. For example, the last sentence within the

paragraph headed ‘plan’ states that “modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan,

both for the house and for the city” [16], encapsulating his views on architecture but again, on politics

too. Thus, making Le Corbusier’s manifesto a useful tool for architecture and for people who are

interested and read about the topics, as it can help define the different expectations and needs of

each architect within architectural manifestos.

Robert Venturi’s ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ gives us a ‘gentle manifesto’

explaining to the readers that the “increasing dimension and scale of architecture in urban and

regional planning add[s] to the difficulties” [17] that were not around in the previously simple single

buildings. In Venturi’s book he talks of the contradictory levels of the “both-and” [18] phenomenon

within architecture. Venturi criticises Le Corbusier’s Shodhan House and Villa Savoye which both

imply the “both-and”; as both structures are opened and closed in their architectural curtain. Having

the both rather than, “either-or” [19], implies the way in which Venturi is trying to teach and explain to

 architects how to build structures; without the contradictory and complexity within architecture,

within the post-modernist era. Through his manifesto about the contradictions of how “even flowing

spaces [have] implied being outside when inside and inside when outside, rather than both at the

same time” [20], showing that manifestations about the contradiction and complexity are unknown to

architecture that includes “both-and” rather than excluding “either-or”. As Venturi studied in Rome

his primary inspiration came from the urban facades in Italy rather than the “Greeks Temple’s

historical and archetypal” [21] style that Le Corbusier was inspired by. Therefore, Venturi’s conclusions

create an essential antidote to the “cataclysmic purism of contemporary urban renewal” [22] that

nearly ruined many cities. Consequently, presenting to us the need for change between eras

through new manifestos of architects, but also the old manifestos that the new have been

developed from.

However, Le Corbusier and Venturi are mostly different but have a few concepts and places where

they hold similarities that many are unaware too. Venturi’s inspiration of the city facades in Italy and

their complexity of spatial vessels, resemble that of Le Corbusier in their intensely visual and artistic

way of focusing on an individual structure and “not the schematic or two dimensionally diagrammatic view toward which many planners” [23] come to use. In this way they are similar due to

their symbolic attitude towards urbanism. While Vincent Scully, in the introduction of Venturi’s

‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’, mentions the way in which they are “diametrically

opposed” [24] as Venturi holds a more fragmented approach, as his “conclusions are general only by

implication” [25]. Le Corbusier and Venturi were also similar through their irony used in both their

qualifying recommendations. Although Venturi is an easier and more flowing architect, while Le

Corbusier was a sharp and tough character, that mainly united with Venturi only through their

inspiration on Michelangelo. Le Corbusier and Venturi hold similar beliefs of the nature of the world

and its vanishing civilisation, that can be seen by comparing both manifestos. Therefore, manifestos

can create the way in which we compare and contrast to become aware of the similarity’s and

differences of such influential architects that impact us all until today, through their useful

architectural manifestos.

Futuristic architecture came about in the early 20th century but wasn’t so popular or well-known till

the later 20th century. Antonio Sant’Elia who brings about a futurist manifesto of architecture,

inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti; who began futurism, believes that “no architecture has

existed since 1700” [26] as Sant’Elia explains that the modern style is “mask[s]… and skeletons” [27] over

architecture. Sant’Elia describes vigorously his hatred towards the earlier styles within architecture

and their “idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence” [28] especially that of “neoclassicism” [29] as he

believes these architects that created “Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls…” [30]

are all people who continue to “stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should

be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves” [31]. This express his strong feelings of

‘incorrect’ architecture and explains via his manifesto what architecture should not do. Thus,

although this manifesto is strong worded and formatted in paragraphs, combined of short and long

sentences that attack other architects, this manifesto can help bring about the change that futurist

architects wanted to see within our cities. Sant’Elia’s manifesto argues that of Le Corbusier in a

sense that Sant’Elia believes architecture should not be filled by Le Corbusier’s “tradition, style,

aesthetics, proportion…” [32] rather by a futuristic way in “resources of technology and science,

satisfying magisterially all the demands of our habits and spirit” [33]. Therefore, the creation of these

manifestos help to bring about change in an effective manner through writings and studies that argue

with one another.

The futuristic philosophy is that everything should be made of “scientific and technical expertise.

Everything must be revolutionised” [34]. The strong opinionated and argumentative way of writing in

manifestos create an impactful read and can help to bring about change architecture, thus being

useful. But some may argue that we are at a stage where we have so many manifestos from many

influential and not so influential architects. Which brings about the opinion of some, that a large

number of architectural manifestos are not effective or useful tools for architecture, as they don’t

implement change and are not written by influential architects; meaning they don’t change styles of

architecture within a period of time, but they are just there to create a political agenda to


On the other hand, I do believe that manifestos are useful tools for all and any designers to have, as

they are a declaration of the beliefs and views that an architect stands on when planning and

creating structures. This can be seen through all manifestos, every person should have their own

manifesto, whether it be an architect or a politician, all people have the right to share their opinion

and argument in a manifesto whether it becomes useful or not, depends on the person who has

written it and what the intend on doing with their manifesto. An architectural manifesto is useful for

all architects and designers; as each person is unique and different and has different understandings

about architecture, which can then be implemented in their structural, planning or even lecturing

work that one might do in an architectural environment. Architectural manifestos help students

studying in architectural field, to think about what they would change in architecture, what they like

or dislike or even despise like Antonio Sant’Elia.

When comparing and contrasting between the four manifestos I have mentioned above, one can

portray that Le Corbusier’s and Venturi manifestos are similar in the way they are broken down into

paragraphs with subheadings for each and short sentences that are mostly statements. While

Palladio and Sant’Elia’s are different from each other and the rest, they provide a more content

heavy text. Palladio’s manifesto is written in a more formal way in order to suit a specific type of

audience he wanted to reach. Whereas, Sant’Elia had a more informal approach while stronger use

of language and images to accompany his statements and accusations. Manifestos provide us as

readers with a new perspective when exploring architecture and the problems surrounding it.

Therefore, when asked if architectural manifestos are useful tools for architecture, many would

agree as they provide us with an opinion of an expert within the field or with an opinion of an

outsider that is exploring architecture.

Leslie Kanes Weisman includes a ‘Women’s environmental Rights: A manifesto’ as a prologue in a

feminist architecture book. This manifesto discusses the way in which the environment has

oppressed us (women) as “they have conditioned us to an environmental myopia” [35] which then

limits women in the field of architecture. This manifesto is structured similarly to that of Le

Corbusier’s and Venturi in its short and sub-headed paragraphs. In the first paragraph titled

‘Architecture as Icon’, Weisman converses about the way in which architecture was created in the

self-image of men as they are “the decision makers in our society” [36] and as “men have created the

built-environment in their own self-image” [37]. This portrays Weisman’s political views in her

manifesto, helping to bring readers aware of the matter and help bring change about. Weisman also

expresses the way in which skyscrapers are mirroring how men act in our societies, “the big, the

erect, the forceful” [38], this describes the way in which she delivers a message and opinion through her

manifesto. Weisman discusses in her manifesto a way in which to solve this issue which creates a

higher value and usefulness for architectural manifestos, as then they can convey a message that

forces change. She states that architecture reflects on people so a building with new “architectural

language” [39] would help give men and women non-stereotypical roles, as a home and skyscraper do.

Architectural manifestos also discuss the issues within public architecture that can affect our society

and how genders are perceived as weaker or stronger, through the inequality of women carrying or

pushing children in push-chairs in the underground tube stations or buses. In this way she debates

that spaces give people power through the way in which they make a gender weaker or stronger.

Weisman’s architectural manifesto has stronger sense of her conveying her opinion and asking for

changes to be made and equality to be given in architectural spaces. Thus, her architectural

manifesto could seem to be the most important one out of the ones I have discussed as it discusses

a more specific point about a more specific problem in architecture. The form of her manifesto

includes a poem speaking of the way in which women experience inequality within societies

architecture. Lastly, by including this poem she creates a more powerful understanding into her

opinion and the problem women face.

In conclusion, I believe that architectural manifestos are useful tools for architecture as they provide

a declaration and thought behind why and how buildings are built, including any political agendas

behind most buildings. A manifesto is the basis of how we grow opinions and stipulations for our

work within architecture but also within our outside life, for example, the 10 commandments that

Jewish people abide by which are the backbone to Judaism, as such, architectural manifestos

provide architects with background knowledge coming in the field of architecture whether in study

or professionally. A manifesto can provide one with the historical and political background of that

period and why buildings were built in certain ways in different places. Without manifestos,

architecture wouldn’t have developed the way it did from classicalism to futuristic and modern

buildings nowadays. Therefore, I strongly believe that anyone in study or professional aspects of

architecture or design should have an architectural manifesto to help accompany the way they

present and explain their work within their field as this helps create a discussion around architecture

and create better styles of architecture that a more thought through and provocative to the world

outside of architecture. Thus, architectural manifestos are extremely important and useful tools in


Bibliography and References:


Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto

Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto

Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto

Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto

Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto

Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto

Online sources:

Role of Culture in Promoting Architectural Identity

Culture is“the complex of distinctive attainments, beliefs, traditions [which establish] the background of [a] racial, religious, or social group” (Kenney, 1994).

“Architecture is the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings actually fit with the way we want to live our lives: the process of manifesting our society into our physical world.” (Bjarke Ingels, in AD interviews)

Taking into consideration these definitions you can say that the role of culture in promoting architectural identity seems essential. In some places you can understand the people’s culture just from the architecture and in other places the architecture creates the city and its culture.

A building can represent designs that reflect the culture or period of era it was created. If we were to travel around the world crossing different countries and borders, we would notice that each region is different than another. And if we were to trace back in history why these differences exist, the answer would come down to culture and civilisation.

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It is already clear and understood that various cultures exist around the world we live in. These cultures are more like imprints on the people and are passed down from one generation to another. The culture affects the lives of the people in many sophisticated ways that include how they live their daily lives, how they deal with other people. This might be due to the ideological factors that created their culture. Furthermore, geographical factors have affected people’s lives more in physical terms, and this can be clearly seen in the way people have constructed their homes and cities. This is proof of how culture in general has affected the architectural concepts that people use in designing their homes. It is also crucial to mention that it is not only the geographical factors that affect architecture, ideological factors also leave their imprints on architecture and this can be easily seen when looking at regions that have the same religion and background but have still developed different architectural styles.

As time progresses, the modern day society and cultures are slowly integrating into “a world that is increasingly becoming one global economically and technologically interdependent whole, where universal mobility is taking architects and architecture across borders and through continents at an unprecedented speed.” (Tzonis and Lefaivre) The universalising of culture is in some ways an advancement for humanity, however global integration is threatening to subtly disintegrate the stylistic innovation in architecture as the universal styles and cultures takes over. By the integration of buildings into the site and usage of local materials and style, the architect can revitalise and preserve the uniqueness of the local cultures in their modern design interpretations. In the era of globalisation, the concept of identity and cultural rootedness is fading away. 

Globalisation is a movement that encourages worldwide standardisation of social, cultural, political, economical and technological aspects of societies.

In our attempt to erase boundaries we have diffused the idea of identity, roots and traditions, forgetting the past and focusing on idea of ‘future’ not realising the damage that is being done to the ‘present’. While most architecture in the rural areas is primitive and addresses the basic fundamentals of context, climate and community participation, modern architecture has fractured this very thought and mechanised spaces.

We are living in an era where Architecture is labelled as anything that is ‘built’. In the current era, most of the buildings are software generated renders without  any relation to the space, time and context in is built in. The most conventional materials used in abundance in cities nowadays are concrete, steel and glass.

Architecture as Identity


Vernacular architecture is the term use to describe local architecture; the word first came about in 1861. The term vernacular is derived from the Latin word vernaculus which means native or local to a place. The idea of regional architecture goes back as far as Vitruvius but under the term historical regionalism. Norberg-Schulz suggests that the relationship of man to place is more than just being able to orientate oneself to the surroundings, as Lynch suggest, but ‘to become “friends” with a particular environment’ (Architecture and identity, 1997). The purpose of architecture is defined as “…To belong to a place means to have an existential foothold, in a concrete everyday sense.” (Abel, 2017).

The Mediterranean

The layering of the Mediterranean is multidimensional and is reflected through: geographical distribution and specificity of three continents, natural and climatic conditions, intensive cultural and historical events and their impact on the entire human civilisation, invaluable cultural and historical heritage, religious and social diversity. The space from which spread the impact of civilisation of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Byzantine, Moorish, Norman and the Ottoman Empire, the Renaissance, to modern times. This series of civilising development on the shores of the Mediterranean has its continuity in a period of more than 5200 years. Each culture was created under the influence of previous and at the same time leaving a strong impact on the future of following culture. Such a diverse and geographically large area with a wide range of contextual influencers on architectural design. The Mediterranean has a climate with long, hot, dry summers with short and wet winters. The site and the availability of materials from the immediate environment influenced the indigenous architecture of this part of the world according to centuries-old traditions. The architecture of some of the cities within the Mediterranean is determined by cultural, socio-political, historical, traditional and religious considerations on one side and natural conditions on the other side. Despite there being obvious differences of context from the perspective of modern architecture, there are also a number of common criteria that will influence the shaping of modern and recent architecture.

“It is a crossroads, a border zone, a trade route, a pleasure ground. It is a great cradle of culture and the birthplace of Western architecture. But the Mediterranean is also a place of intense and profound cross-pollination with the vibrant influences of myriad past cultures…” (Mediterranean Modern, 2006).

There are masses of compact settlements which have public facilities for various purposes such as religious, trade and political. Traditional and religious events and the living trading activity takes place within. The settlements are designed in accordance to the Mediterranean climate. They are generally orientated toward the South and have a long East to West axis, in response to the summer breeze and direction of the sun. The climatic conditions mean that you can stay outdoors all year round, this has impacted the design of the house courtyards, gardens and terraces as fundamental parts of the residential units. These external spaces were used as climate moderators for the rest of the dwelling.

In Mediterranean housing, different parts of the dwellings are used more extensively according to the season. They usually have a fireplace on the ground floor used in the winter and an upper floor used in the summer. The external spaces in the houses, such as the terraces are designed to be used during the day to stay out of the heat in the shade or even to sleep on hot nights. Summer villas and houses were designed surrounded by greenery.

When designing, careful consideration was paid to creating an intimate family space in the houses. During the Ottoman period and in Arab cities, the status of women in Islam determined the design and arrangement of the living spaces. Although there is no strict separation between the inner and outer spaces, there is a noticeable division between female and male, the public and private parts of the house. The houses which have an internal courtyard are influenced from Mesopotamia continued to exists in houses built in later periods. European Mediterranean cities have different variations of these courtyards. In these domestic spaces and within their society, the patio is the essence of family life. This part of the house gives off a cosmic atmosphere because of the way it opens up to the sky; allows you to look up at the moon and gaze at the stars. The design of the patio and the use of water features produce a nice microclimate. Depending on the culture, a garden, concealed from the view of the public, is often joined onto the patio. This garden has a spiritual meaning and conveys the concept of Heaven in Islam. The spatial arrangement is noticeably different in the way you enter the building; you enter directly from the street into the courtyard of the house, this evolved later on into houses with private and public courtyards.

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Mediterranean houses are functional for not only residence but a variety of other purposes. The most common activity in mediterranean life was agriculture. Majority of these houses included spaces for storage for produce and spaces for cattle to be kept. Outdoor spaces are significant spaces, due to the climate; they are used as family spaces, to socialise, collect rainwater or drying fruit which was a common practice.

For the construction of traditional Mediterranean buildings, local and readily available materials, were generally used. The buildings are constructed using using sun-dried mud-brick and stone which is then rendered with mud plaster. These materials create thick walls which stabilise the temperature variations throughout summer days. They are also used as thermal mass to warm up the interior spaces during winter nights. In order to reflect the strong solar radiation, the walls are generally painted white. This is still used today and can be seen on buildings on some Greek Islands. Mediterranean buildings are strategically constructed with small windows located high up on walls and are closed off with small bushes. This acts as thermal insulation during the winter and to encourage cross ventilation in the summer.

The architectural style and design of mediterranean buildings was simple until the 19th Century. Geometric, floral patterns and artistically built-inscriptions of Quran verses had a fundamental role in architectural expression of Islamic architecture.

Designing in Mediterranean and Arab countries today                                                  Architecture should reflect the spirit the of local people, their history and culture. During the design process, one should not only consider the site but a wider cultural and historical context. Jean Nouvel states that a building should always have its roots and links; when designing in Arab or Mediterranean countries it is like you are taking part or adding to their history.                        “I can’t imagine creating a building in Paris that can be in Doha – and in Doha a building that can be in Paris. It seems difficult for me, yet that there are buildings that can be in both.” (Nouvel, 2016). It is not just about how the building integrates onto the site but it is a deeper integration into a  historical depth and cultural influences. Environmental aspects, climatic conditions, the natural and built environment should also be considered during the design process. An architect should also study and compare the needs of the people within that society then and now. Ignoring the surrounding context, whatever structure is built will dominate and not belong to the environment its in. The easiest approach to integrate the architecture with its context and respect the surrounding environment is Bioclimatic architecture. Mediterranean countries are rich of world heritage due to the size, diversity within and the layers of the different civilisations that have emerged throughout history This is reflected in the existence of the different architectural styles and use of materials that can still be seen in the Mediterranean today. “The traditional notion of Mediterranean living is suffused with simplicity, an openness to landscape and the sea, and with that  particular erosion of divisions between indoor and outdoor space, as well as an emphasis on texture, organic and sea-blown colours, and solid, natural materials.” (Mediterranean Modern, 2006).  Designing spaces today should be done by studying the traditional architectural styles and construction methods but reinterpreted in accordance to today’s society and not just copied.

Access to architecture and building customized by nature and location has a strong foundation in history when man was directly dependent on climatic and environmental factors and resources

“The rain of light is a display and it’s also a memory. When you are under a tree you have lots of little spots of light. For me the Greek and Arab architecture is always to do with light and geometry.”(Nouvel, 2017)


The Louvre Abu Dhabi located within the Saadiyat Cultural District, United Arab Emirates, was completed in 2017. The structure is set low down and close to the water. The galleries and facilities are made up of a sequence of white, mostly single-storey cuboid blocks, that are arranged to depict the layout of a traditional Arab Medina (town). This arrangement surrounds a series of promenades and public squares that are all orientated towards sea water. A dome structure goes over the ‘museum city’, the is to symbolise the sky and the constellations. “The dome gleams in the Abu Dhabi sunshine. At night, this protected landscape is an oasis of light under a starry dome.” (Nouvel, 2017)

This metal dome acts as protection from the harsh Middle Eastern sun and the museum’s ‘streets’ allow for a sea breeze to pass through. The ‘museum city’ is comprised of 55 buildings which include 23 permanent and temporary galleries and a children’s museum. The design includes two-storey standalone structures, an auditorium and restaurant. Nouvel purposely designs the roof structure to only just be visible from the car park and the cube buildings from the entrance. After passing neutral coloured public spaces, into the lobby and ticket office and pass further to the greatly anticipated  revelation of the starry atmosphere of the dome. The dome is made up of eight layers which are superimposed onto one another, which is reminiscent of Arab architecture. Nouvel’s concept was to create spiritual atmosphere by merging water, sand and sky. The light and shading was inspired by moving palm trees and visitors are able to feel a drop in temperature and play of light. The way in which the material of the dome is woven means that creates unique star forms and when the sun shines through it was intended to create a cinematic affect and  a rain of light. “The sun is like a huge projector and it is moving around the dome. The shadows it creates will change at different times of the day, with different light stains [taches de lumiére] appearing on different buildings. So you will never see the same light twice in one day.” (Nouvel 2017).                    

The museum was designed to belong to the space, history and climate it was built in. “It belongs to the territory, to the history. Every sign and symbol of this building is linked to Arab culture. The idea is to have enabled more than the building: to have a microclimate using the idea of the sea and the wind, the breeze. It is a building that speaks of the sun, the sky and the sea.” (Nouvel, 2017)


Architecture is an art, the epitome of artist expression; there is no recipe you have to follow, no design or materials that should be used. Rather than using that artist expression with the consideration of culture and history to create masterpieces and which can become symbols and create vibrant city skylines that convey distinct culture identity. The Western world has began an era of modernisation and in turn globalisation in architecture has become the solution to consumerism. Developing countries followed suit using the the idea of contemporary architecture as a sign of success and to show dominance. This issue being that majority of the world’s city skylines are beginning to look extremely similar of sleek, modern, glass structures; no sense of place or culture and traditional identity.

“The disaster of the epoch today is the damage of the generic building, parachuted in everywhere, to all the metropolises.” (Nouvel, 2017)

As globalisation is being embraced, the unique cultural identity of places, is being deconstructed. The world’s history and heritage are decaying the more global architecture is becoming. Layers of history are now fading memories. The structures we design become symbols and tell the story of our era as they still stand after our time. An architectural response to globalisation is vernacular architecture. A designer must consider the context, history and culture of the place, the structure must achieve a “sense of belonging” (Nouvel,2017).

Regulations in Architectural Design

To run an architectural practice there is a need for practice managements that can increase the efficiently in the organization. Safety and design are one of the many practice managements that is important to consider, as it helps to keep the working environment safety and healthy for workers. It is important to consider safety and design from det very beginning during design stage throughout building lifecycle to eliminate injuries (Acumen practice notes, 2015). One of the biggest safety problems in building design is stairs. These has caused falls (injuries) or even death for many people; Ms Covey was one of them that ended up with neck and arm injuries, due to the uneven heights of risers on the stairs at regional Queensland hospital (Charter tower). These stairs are not in compliance with the building code, so the hospital ended up paying her 1.6 million dollars (Silva, 2017). A workplace has to be safety to ensure that workers/users are not in danger, but in this incident the employer/ facility manager has been irresponsible in their duty controlling/ fixing up the stair (We are union ohs reps, 2016); as the stairs has caused small injuries for workers before Ms covey accident.

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Architects should be responsible during designing a building, but also during the construction to make sure that the building is safety for the workers/users. It is builder’s duty to ensure that the stair is in corresponded to the building code  (We are union ohs reps, 2016), but Architects should look after the builder and guide them as needed as there might be issues for the builder to understand the drawing and the building codes.

During the use it is important to maintain the building, to ensure that the building occupants are prevented against injuries. A person, usually a hired facility manager (maintenance worker) will make sure that every part of the building is checked and whether its need maintenance or not to remain clean, healthy and safe place to be on/work on (CLR, 2018).

A building design has four lifecycles; During (1) construction, (2) use, (3) maintenance and (4) demolition (Acumen practice notes, 2015). For the purpose of this report, will this report focus on (3) maintenance aspect of the building lifecycle.

Architects has the power to reduce the impact of hazards for the workers who maintain the building by considering safety and design during the design process. Considering safety in the early stage helps maintenance workers reducing or minimize injuries or worst dead during maintenance on the building (Safeworkdesign, 2019). Maintenance workers plays an important role in keeping the building safety for users to be on, and it is important to keep workers healthy to prevent users from harm. Moreover, to reduce the hazard on maintenance for workers/ user should architect take in consideration of plan of fire protection, protect occupant safety and health, natural hazards mitigation and provide security for building assets and occupants and consider safety (WBDG, 2017) while designing. Also, there is different way of approaching the maintenance worker and the users while designing safety for them. 

2.1 Plan of fire protection

There are rules and regulations that need to be followed by architect in terms of fire protection during the design process, to meet with the minimum requirement. Minimum requirements only cover the protection against loss of life and limit the fire impact on the community and does not consider unique circumstances of fire. Therefor architect should understand that fire on building occurs in four different ways; through man- made, natural, incidental and wildfire and use that knowledge to go beyond the regulation and cover strategies to achieve appealing level of safety in terms of egress and smoke recovery and evacuation (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).  

A man- made fire in Surat, western India has led many thousand injuries and twenty death, due to lack of fire protection consideration during design process. In this building there were no safety equipment installed and no escape routes. The one stair that was on the building, was burnt down before people was able to run out (ABC News, 2018). As WBDG (national institute of building science) covers of the minimal regulation of fire safety, do not this building cover the minimum regulation of safety during fire but was approved by the Indian government.

2.2 Protect occupant safety and health

These days buildings are considered as a safe and healthy place to work on, but there are other issues related healthy environment, such as exposure to hazardous materials, occupational injuries and illnesses and air quality problem (indoor) that has to be taken in consideration. Architects, engineers and facility manager has to keep improving the design and keep up with the maintenance to prevent against those issues that can harm the working environment. In this regard, architects need to work on process analysis; process documentation, measurement, analysis and recognize hazard to find out new solutions that can provide a better place for workers (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).

Singapore building and construction authority (BCA) has proven that green building makes the indoor air quality better in terms of improving health issues for workers. Workers feel happier, and the result affect positively on the work performance (Eco-Business, 2017).

2.3 Natural hazards mitigation

Safety in terms of natural phenomena incident on building is hard to predict, as it is hard to know when that will occur. Some of the nature disaster that can harm the building and the occupants are floods, windstorms and earthquakes. Weather is changing due to global warming, and it is hard to predict when and what sort of disaster will occur, but a good mitigation measure on building will help to prevent against these hazards. Mitigation measure means prevent, control or reduce environmental disaster on the building (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).

“We need to let buildings move, and we can actually understand where they might fail, and then go in and design buildings with that in mind (Weaver, 2014)”. To solve the issues related natural disaster, can architects design building with flexibility. So that the structure would be able to move and bend to reduce the impact of earthquakes. To withstand hurricane hazards should angles roof (Hipped roof shape) be considered in the design process, as this withstand the wind more than a flat or gamble roof. Other natural disaster is hard to control, but it can be reduced by designing building close to the water (Flood) and bush (Bushfire) (Weaver, 2014).

2.4 Provide security for building assets and occupents

Safety is in risk for workers/users of the building, when attacks from people against building happens. These attacks can vary from criminals, lone active shooter, disgruntles employees, terrorists and vandals. To implement effective physical security, can architect consider to design/specify on the ductile detailing, nonlinear material, space planning and structural dynamics together with security consultants and structural engineer. This is to give the workers/users of the building security protection (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).

Srilanka was recently being attacked by terrorist, due to ignorance of the intelligence burao. During this attack hotels and churches were the main target, and many people died during the bombing on the building. There is no way to make a building bomb proof but making the elements of the building strong; in this case ceiling, would have reduced people`s dead (CBS News, 2019).

Figure 2: Bomb blast on St. Sebastian’s Church, North Colombo, Srilanka (CBS News, 2019). 

2.5 Safety for maintenance worker v users

Architects has to consider both the worker (maintenance worker) and the user to design safety protection for them. A comparison study of what the needs for the worker and the user would be analysed, to find out how differently architect should approach them.


Maintenance worker


Plan of fire protection

There is a risk maintaining electrical wiring, and fire has occurred during this maintenance. Architect should consider safety for worker by specify fire safety equipment’s (Chemical extinguisher, blanket etc.) in this electrical room to reduce the fire impact (Fire rescue, 2017). 

There are regulations that covers fire safety aspect. Architects should consider more than the regulation and make it better in terms of egress, smoke recovery and evacuation for the users.

Protect occupant safety and health

Maintenance worker are high risk on accidents/ dead due to lack of architects understanding on them. Some of the aspects that have led to injuries are by not having air condition on ground level (less fall risk), install sliding rail for easy maintaining lighting on high ceiling, edge protection and platform for external glass cleaning safety etc (Daly, 2018).

Architects should think about the users of the building and consider a better working environment. This can be done using green elements on the building, so the user’s environment become healthier to work on.

Natural hazards mitigation

Natural hazards are hard to predict. But consider disaster before it happens and designing building accordingly to make sure occupants health are safety is important. Architect can make decisions in beforehand if the land is suitable or not from hazards caused by nature. 

Provide security for building assets and occupants

No one knows when this will happen. But architect can reduce the impact by considering this impact into the design stage.

Architects have a big impact on safety for maintenance workers and users of the building. It is important that architect consider safety and design early in the design stage, to avoid hazards and risk for occupants. This can be done by architect by understanding and design better solutions against fire protection, safety and health of occupants, mitigation plan to reduce the impact from natural hazards and give security for building assets and occupants.

Recommendation for making building safety for users and maintenance workers that architect should consider in terms of fire protection is to (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):

–          Make a design team: Be in contact with fire protection engineer during the design phase to get most out of the safety in terms of building construction requirements, life safety, fire detection and notification system, Emergency (lighting, power and exit signage) and other special fire protection requirements. 

–          Make easy access to fire department: design easy access to fire equipment and that this department is located in a convenient area for fire fighters to access when fire.

In terms of protecting occupant’s safety and health can architect (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):

–          Give designs that helps to reduce or eliminate hazards in workplace to prevent accidents, illness and occupational injuries

–          Reduce the accidents happened from height falls

–          Prevent falls, slips and trips

–          Make sure electrical area is safely designed

–          Give good indoor air quality and sufficient ventilation through design

–          Remove hazardous material exposure

For controlling natural disaster affecting building can architect (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):

–          Design building that are disaster – resistant in the early stage of the design, in terms building structure and material.

Lastly, architect can provide a better design in terms of security for building assets and occupants by (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):

–          Secure the building in the design stage by designing building that can tackle human made attacks by providing structure, material, planning and detail.

Architects need to be clear about how the design will affect the users/ workers and they have to make sure they can make most out of the safety in building for them. Further, architects have the responsibility to determine other safety issues that can happened around the building, without those fours that are mentioned above. They have to not only consider the minimum safety requirements, but they have to go beyond it to make the building a better place to be on for everyone. 

Reference list

ABC news. (2019). Fire in tutoring centre kills 20 teenage students in India. Retrieved from

Acumen practice notes. (2015). Occupational health and safety – safe design. Retrieved from—safe-design/

CBS News. (2019). Death toll from Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka nears 300. Retrieved from

CLR. (2018). Why is Proper Building Maintenance Important?. Retrieved from

Cooper, H. (2013). Factory collapse a ‘wake-up call’ for fashion industry. Retrieved from

Daly, J. (2018). Case Study: Affinity Water, United Kingdom. Retrieved from

Eco-Business. (2017). People are less likely to fall sick in green buildings, study finds. Retrieved from

Fire rescue. (2017). How to put out an electrical fire in five steps. Retrieved from

Hupje, E. (2018). 9 Types of maintenance: how to choose the right maintenance strategy. Retrieved from

Safeworkdesign. (2019). Safe design. Retrieved from

Silva. K. (2017). Woman falls up Charters Towers hospital stairs, gets $1.6m payout. Retrieved from

WBDG. (2017). Secure/ safe. Retrieved from

WBDG Occupant Safety and Health. Retrieved from

WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Fire protection. Retrieved from

WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Natural hazards mitigation. Retrieved from

WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Security for Building Occupants and Assets. Retrieved from

We are union ohs reps. (2016). Steps and Stairs. Retrieved from

Weaver, C. (2014). Natural Disasters Require Special Building Design. Retrieved from