Development in Architecture

Development In Architecture

Architecture is the practice of building design and its resulting products, however customary usage refers only to the designs and structures that are culturally significant. Architecture is to building as literature is to the printed word. According to Vitruvius, a 1st-century BC Roman who wrote encyclopedically about architecture: “Well building hath three conditions: Commodity, Firmness, and Delight.” In other words, one would say today that architecture must satisfy its intended uses, must be technically sound, and must convey aesthetic meaning. But the best buildings are often so well constructed that they outlast their original use. They then survive not only as beautiful objects, but as documents of the history of cultures, achievements in architecture that testify to the nature of the society that produced them. These achievements are never wholly the work of individuals. Architecture is a social art. Examples of such works of art are the Pyramids of Giza, the Lion’s gate at Mycenae, the Parthenon, the Colosseum, the Hagia Sophia, and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Each of these buildings tells the story of the culture that produced it, and by studying the development of architecture; one can see the development of religions, ideas, and beliefs.

The three pyramids at Giza in Egypt, Cheops, Khafre, and Menkaure, are among the most famous pieces of architecture in the world and they are also the first buildings with innovative architecture. Each Egyptian ruler was obsessed with constructing a tomb for himself more impressive and longer lasting than that of his predecessors. Before the 4th Dynasty (begins c. 2680 BC) Egyptian royal burial took the form of the mastaba, an archetypal rectangular mass of masonry. This evolved into the stepped pyramid and finally into the fully refined pyramid. The development of the pyramid reached its climax during the Fourth Dynasty in the famous triad of great pyramids at Giza, which unlike the older pyramids, were of smooth-sided shape. They originally had an outer casing of carefully dressed limestone, but it has disappeared except near the top of the pyramid Khafre. This pyramid, almost 136 m (446 ft) high, was built without the use of cranes, pulleys, or lifting tackle, and archaeologists are still not certain how this was accomplished. Cheops, the first to be completed took about twenty years to complete. It was originally 481 feet high, and its base covered over 13 acres. It was made of over two million stone blocks, each weighing two to fifteen tons. The area covered by the Cheops Pyramid can accommodate St Peter’s in Rome, the cathedrals of Florence and Milan, and Westminster and St Paul’s in London combined.

Each of the three structures differs slightly from the others in details of design and construction, but the essential features are shown in the section of the earliest and largest, that of Cheops. The Pyramid contains two interior chambers and a number of corridors, galleries, and escape shafts, which either lead to the King’s burial chamber, or serve other functions. It has been calculated that certain stars in the Orion constellation used to line up perfectly with these shafts thus bringing their light into the chamber. The ancient Egyptian purposely did this because they worshiped the god Osirus with whom they associated the constellation Orion. Unlike previous ancient tombs, the burial chamber is now near the center of the structure, only accessible through the Great Gallery and an ascending corridor, rather than belowground. However beneath the Cheops pyramid, a false tomb chamber was built to confuse thieves that would try to steal the tombs treasures. The pharaohs of Egypt were buried with many objects, because the Egyptian belief was that the kings would bring the items with them to the afterlife. As opposed to popular belief, the pyramids were not erected as isolated structures in the middle of the desert, but were part of vast funerary districts, with temples and other buildings that were the scene of great religious celebrations. Clustered about the three great pyramids are several smaller ones and a large number of mastabas for members of the royal family and high officials.

The Pyramids of Giza give much information on the beliefs and culture of the ancient Egyptians. These immense monuments testify to the pharaohs’ vast social control and also to the fascination of their architects with abstract, perfect geometrical forms, a concern that reappears frequently throughout history. Egyptians built temples to dignify the ritual observances of those in power and to exclude others. But, what did the pyramids represent? They symbolized the institution of the monarchy itself. The king was a living god. As a god he was above every other human being; his power was not given to him, it was an aspect of his divine nature. As a god, he brought life, fertility, order, stability, and rationality to the Egyptian state just as the gods brought life, fertility, order, stability, and rationality to the universe as a whole. He stood aloof and distant from the rest of humanity, and only the king had the right or the ability to join the gods after he died. The Egyptian in the street did not expect an afterlife of bliss or rebirth during the Old Kingdom; it was only in later Egyptian history that rebirth was seen as common to all humans. The pyramids represent all of these things. As monuments, they represent the inherent power of the king. As geometry, they represent the order, balance, and rationality of the universe and its incarnation in the king himself. As tombs, they represent the life after death available to the king as living god.

The next important building in the development of architecture, so well constructed that it serves as a document of the culture’s history, is the Lions Gate and Mycenae. The great monuments of Mycenaean architecture were all built between 1400 and 1200 B.C. Apart from such details as the shape of columns or decorative motifs of various sorts, Mycenaean architecture owes little to the Minoan tradition. The palaces on the mainland were hilltop fortresses surrounded by defensive walls of huge stone blocks, a type of construction quite unknown in Crete, but similar to the Hittite fortifications. The Lion’s gate at Mycenae is the most impressive remnant of these massive ramparts, which inspired such awe in the Greeks of later times that they were regarded as the work of the Cyclopes, a mythical race of one-eyed giants. Its walls built from huge blocks of stone, called “Cyclopean” because the later Greeks couldn’t believe that they were built by human hands.

Another aspect of the Lion Gate foreign to the Minoan tradition is the great stone relief over the doorway. The two lions flanking a symbolic Minoan column have grim, heraldic majesty. Their function as guardians of the gate, their tense, muscular bodies, and their symmetrical design again suggests and influence from the ancient Near East. The Lion’s Gate is made by a simple jamb and lintel formation, surmounted by the triangular relief. This triangle is very important to Greek architecture because the Greeks later develop it into the pediment. Lion Gate is of immense historical portent. It shows the powerful sense of structure that they inherited from Neolithic times infused with Egyptian style. Along with the feeling for monumental stone carving in the Lion relief, we can see another element inherited from Egypt but now mixed with a new sensitivity to the organic beauty of its subject. It is the oldest example of monumental sculpture in Europe. The Lion Gate is very important because it unifies all of the elements of the past.

The Lion Gate is now virtually a symbol of the land and its past and it is one of many examples of the skills of Mycenaean architects. The great achievements of the Mycenaean Civilization, the palaces with their elaborate fresco decoration, the monumental fortified citadels and imposing tholos tombs, all show the power and wealth of the Mycenaean rulers. This wealth was derived from agriculture and craft production and the conduct of overseas trade. Notable works of art were produced in the Mycenaean workshops, such as fine pottery, luxurious metal, stone and faience vessels, jewelry and splendid ivory carvings. However, the decline of the Mycenaean Civilization began in the 12th century BC after a series of catastrophes, which struck its major centres and caused the collapse of the palace economy. It disappeared around the middle of the 11th century BC after setting the foundation for the “Greek miracle” of the Archaic and Classical periods.

The third important building in the development of architecture was the Parthenon. It is greatest temple on the Acropolis, the sacred hill above Athens which had been a fortified site since Mycenaean times. The temple was dedicated to the virginal Athena, the patron deity in whose honor Athens was named. Built of marble on the most prominent site along the southern flank of the Acropolis, it dominates the city and the surrounding countryside, a brilliant landmark against the backdrop of mountains to the north. The history of the Parthenon is as extraordinary as its artistic significance. It is the only sanctuary we know that has served four different faiths in succession. After serving as a Classical Greek temple to Athena Parthenos, it was eventually converted into a Christian church and later into a mosque. The structure survived largely intact until 1687, when the Turkish gunpowder stored inside it was detonated in the course of a siege by Venetian troops.

The architects Ictinus, Callicrates, and Karpion erected The Parthenon between 448 and 432 B.C, an amazingly brief span of time for a project this size. It is unconventional in plan. The cella is unusually wide and somewhat shorter than in other temples, so as to accommodate a second room behind it. The pronaos and its counterpart at the western end have almost disappeared, but there is an extra row of columns in front of either entrance. The architrave above these columns is more Ionic than Doric, since it has no triglyphs and metopes but a continuous sculptured frieze that encircles the entire cella. As the embodiment of Classical Doric architecture, the Parthenon makes an instructive contrast with the “Temple of Poseidon”. Despite its greater size, it seems far less massive. Rather, the dominant impression it creates is one of festive, balanced grace within the austere scheme of the Doric order. This has been achieved by a general lightening and readjustment of the proportions. The entablature is lower in relation to its width and to the height of the columns, and the cornice projects less. The columns themselves are a good deal more slender, their tapering and entasis less pronounced, and their capitals smaller and less flaring; yet the spacing of the columns has become wider. The architects have been praised for not crushing the viewer with over-monumentality. The Parthenon is created in the first of the Greek orders, the Doric. The Doric order predominated on the mainland and in the western colonies. The Ionic order originated in the cities on the islands and coasts of Asia Minor, which were more exposed to Asian and Egyptian influences; it featured capitals with spiral volutes, a more slender shaft with quite different fluting, and an elaborate and curvilinear base. The Corinthian order, a later development, introduced Ionic capitals elaborated with acanthus leaves.

The Parthenon emerged as the archetypal shrine of all time. Unlike the Egyptians, the Greeks put their walls inside to protect the cella and their columns on the outside, where they could articulate exterior space. Perhaps for the first time, the overriding concern is for the building seen as a beautiful object externally, while at the same time containing precious and sacred inner space. The Egyptians worshipped inside of their temples, however the Greeks worshipped outside of the temples. The buildings were only there to provide a beautiful façade and to create an environment suitable for prayer. Another difference between the Greek temples and those of the Egyptians is the fact that the Egyptians were preoccupied with the idea of permanence. The Egyptian architecture and art was made with minimal negative space because they believed that if something happened to those things, the deceased’s soul would not live on forever. The Greeks however did not care about permanence. They used much more negative space in their architecture as well as in their artwork.

Roman architecture continued the development now referred to as classical, but with quite different results. Unlike the tenuously allied Greek city-states, Rome became a powerful, well-organized empire that planted its constructions throughout the Mediterranean world, northward into Britain, and eastward into Asia Minor. Romans built great engineering works—roads, canals, bridges, and aqueducts. Their masonry was more varied; they used bricks and concrete freely, as well as stone, marble, and mosaic. Use of the arch and vault introduced curved forms. The Greek orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) were widely adopted and further elaborated. But the Romans ultimately trivialized them by applying them indiscriminately, usually in the form of engaged columns or pilasters with accompanying cornices, to both interior and exterior walls as a form of ornamentation. It was this culture that created the next important building in the development of architecture, the Colosseum.

The Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Ampitheatre after its builders, the emperors Vespasian and Titus, both of the Flavian family. Construction began around 70 AD in a low-lying area between the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian hills that had once formed the pond of Nero’s Domus Aureus. The ampitheatre probably came to be called the “Colosseum” because a colossal statue of Nero once stood near it. The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD and seated more than 50,000 spectators. Its opening was celebrated with 100 days of games in which thousands of animals and gladiators were killed. Occasionally the Colosseum was flooded in order to stage small naval battles, though these more commonly took place in large basins, called naumachias, that were specially dug for that purpose. The emperor had his own entrance to the Colosseum, and from his private “box seat” he decided the fate of defeated gladiators. The floor of the arena was wood covered with sand. Beneath the floor was a maze of passageways, and temporary holding pens for the animals. A hand-operated elevator was used to raise the animals from the basement up to the arena floor. The walls of the subterranean passageways can still be seen today, although the Italian government has decided to re-floor the Colosseum.

For all its beauty, the Colosseum is also a marvel of ergonomics and efficiency. It is estimated that 50,000 people could enter and be seated in 15 minutes. The reason for this is that the Romans invented tickets and assigned seating. Before the game, a spectator would pick up a ticket which had a number that corresponded to one of the 79 entrance arches which all had numbers above them (the 80th arch was for the emperor). The ticket also had a level, and a seat number. Senators had reserved seats with their names carved in the marble base–some of these can still be seen today. The basic structure of the Colosseum and the ticket system is still used today for many gaming events, from bullfights in Spain to baseball games in America. The Colosseum was used regularly for almost 400 years, and has suffered through earthquakes, neglect, and the pillaging of popes who took its marble for their own buildings.

The Colosseum is elliptical, sitting on a NW to SE axis. The building’s core is constructed of brick and a relatively soft, porous rock called tufa. The exterior is clothed in travertine marble. Originally the Colosseum had three stories, but Alexander Severus added a fourth when he refurbished the building around 230 AD. The bottom three stories have 80 arches each; the stories are separated by a thin. The columns in one story line up exactly with those in the story above it. Engaged Doric columns separate the arches on the bottom story. As stated earlier, the Doric column is the oldest type–it is strong, simple, and even severe in appearance, making the first story appear to be a strong foundation. The second story has engaged Ionic columns, and the third has Corinthian. The fourth story is a solid wall with thin Corinthian pilasters, rectangular columns that are also engaged. The space between the pilasters is filled alternately with 40 small, rectangular windows and 40 bu!

cklers, which are now lost. The unique combination of strong support columns with airy arches and thin architraves makes the Colosseum look sturdy, yet open and soaring. Moving up the building, the columns become progressively “newer” and more refined, lending lightness to the upper stories. There was no roof on the Colosseum, but in the summer great canvas sheets were rigged to the top to form awnings that kept the sun off everyone inside. The Colosseum is a very important part of Roman architecture. It tells the viewer a lot about the Roman society. They were very extravagant because Rome was a very rich city, however the city’s wastefulness is also what led to its downfall.

The next important building in the development of architecture is the Hagia Sophia. During the 5th century there was a conflict in architectural ideas between the eastern church and the western church. While Byzantine architecture developed on the concept called the central church, assembled around a central dome like the Pantheon, the Western or Roman church—more concerned with congregational participation in the Mass—preferred the Roman basilica. Justinian was the ruler of the Eastern Church. Among the surviving monuments of his reign in Constantinople, the most important is Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom), the architectural masterpiece of the era and one of the creative triumphs of any age. Built between 532 and 537, it achieved such fame that the names of the architects are remembered: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus. After the Turkish conquest in 1453, it became a mosque (the four minarets were added) and the mosaic decoration was largely hidden under whitewash. Some of the mosaics were uncovered in the 20th century, after the building became a museum.

The design of Hagia Sophia presents a unique combination of elements. It has the longitudinal axis of an Early Christian basilica, but the central feature of the nave is a square compartment crowned by a huge dome and abutted at either end by half-domes, so that the nave becomes a great oval. Attached to these half-domes are semicircular niches with open arcades. The dome rests on four arches that carry its weight to the great piers at the corners of the square, so that the walls below that arches have no supporting function at all. The transition from the square formed by these arches to the circular rim of the dome is achieved by spherical triangles called pendentives. The device permits the construction of taller, lighter, and more economical domes than the older method of placing the dome on a round or polygonal base. After Hagia Sophia, the dome on pendentives became a basic feature of Byzantine architecture, and later, of Western architecture as well.

Another element of importance in the Hagia Sophia is the plan. Both the buttressing of the piers and the huge scale of the whole recall the Basilica of Constantine, the most ambitious achievement of Imperial Roman vaulted architecture and the greatest monument associated with a ruler for whom Justinian had particular admiration. The Hagia Sophia thus unites the East and West. Inside the Hagia Sophia all sense of weight disappears. Nothing remains but an expanding space that inflates the apsidal recesses, the pendentives, and the dome itself. Light plays a key role. The dome seems to float because it rests upon a closely spaced ring of windows, and the nave walls are pierced by so many openings that they have the transparency of lace curtains. The new architectural aesthetic is present especially in the ornamental details such as molding and capitals, and of coarse the mosaics. The scrolls, acanthus foliage, and the like are motifs that derive from classical architecture, but their effect is radically different. Instead of actively cushioning the impact of the weight upon the shaft of the column, the capital has become a sort of openwork basket whose delicate surface pattern belies the strength and solidity of the stone.

The next period in architecture was the Romanesque period. This period linked the architecture of Western Europe from about AD 1000 to the rise of the Gothic style. At the beginning of the 12th century, Romanesque was transformed into Gothic. Although the change was a response to a growing rationalism in Christian theology, it was also the result of technical developments in vaulting. This gave a new geometric articulation—the ribbed vault. Ribs did not modify the structural characteristics of the groin vault, but they offered constructional advantage and emphatically changed the vault’s appearance. Another development was the pointed arch and vault. With these advances, the master builders were encouraged to construct more elegant, higher, and apparently lighter structures. But the vaults had to be kept from spreading outward by restraint imposed near the base of the vaults, now high above the aisle roofs. The solution was another innovation, the flying buttress, a half arch leaning against the vault from the outside, with its base firmly set in a massive pier of its own. It was during this time period that the Notre Dame of Paris was erected.

The Notre Dame of Paris is a noble achievement of early Gothic architecture in France. Built on a site sacred since Roman times (a temple of Jupiter was once built on the Ile de la Cité), Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of gothic architecture in France. The first stone was lain by the bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, in 1163. The construction and design were done by the Among the master builders are the names Jehan de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, Pierre de Chelles, and Jehan Rave and directed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, and the church was completed around 1345. The principal altar was erected in 1182 and the chancel in 1177, while the nave was not finished until the beginning of the 13th century. The cathedral was greatly damaged during the Revolution, but was restored in the 19th century by Viollet le Duc starting in 1841. The spires and the sacristy date from this era.

The façade of the cathedral is composed of several levels, crowning the three great portals: the Portal of the Last Judgement, the Portal to the Virgin, and the Portal to Saint Anne. Above this is the Gallery of Kings, consisting of the statues of 28 kings of Judah and Israel, reworked by Viollet le Duc after their destruction during the Revolution.

The Rose Window, 10 meters in diameter, is separated into three circles, each of which is subdivided into 12 and 24 parts. In front of it stands the statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the Baby Jesus; Mary is the patron saint of the cathedral.

The Great Gallery, a line of arches, links Notre Dame’s two towers. Viollet le Duc placed statues of fantastic monsters and animals here at the buttress corners.

The towers stretch up a full 69 meters (over 75 yards). The south tower houses the large bell “Emmanuel”, weighing 13 metric tons (over 28,000 pounds). The clapper alone weighs 1, 100 pounds. This bell is Notre-Dame’s oldest: it is said that when it was recast in 1631, women threw their jewelry into the metal, giving the bell its unique, pure tone.. The cathedral itself is 130 m long, 48 m wide, and 35 m tall, and indisputably a masterpiece of Gothic art. The central nave where churchgoers come to service is surrounded by 29 choirs. Its long ship like architecture is a testimony of the fervor of Christian faith in France through the Middle Ages. This is because, at that time people believed that the higher they built the cathedrals the closer they would be to God.

Notre-Dame is probably the most famous image in French Gothic art. Rather than generating strong vertical energy, the portals, windows, and tracery gallery of its main block are gathered into a square, subdivided by a few strong vertical and horizontal elements into a grid like pattern with the rose window at the center. It is very harmonious. The cathedral is also important because it was the first cathedral built on a truly monumental scale. With its compact, cruciform plan, its sexpartite vaulting, flying buttresses and vastly enlarged windows, it became a prototype for future French cathedrals.

Architecture is the art of designing and constructing buildings. Buildings must be created to be beautiful, functional, and practical. It must create moods, and have an effect from the outside as well as from the inside. However some architecture is so well designed that is reflects the needs and way of life of its times. By looking at certain masterpieces of architecture we can see the evolution of man and culture. In Egypt man was preoccupied with death and the afterlife. The whole purpose of art and architecture was permanence. Then in Mycenae, the culture changed. Instead of worrying about death, the Mycenaean’s wanted their buildings to be strong and protecting. They made such thick walls that later Greeks believed that Giants had created them. In Classical Greece, the culture was very religious and also very organized. Their architecture was divided into three orders and their structures are well known for their harmony and balance. In Roman times, the culture

was extravagant. They incorporated all of the Greek orders indiscriminately and focused on making larger buildings. In Byzantine art, the emphasis returned to religion and in Gothic times, that emphasis was extreme. In present times, there is a great variety of architecture, but many of it relates back to previous styles. For example there are many Gothic Renewal buildings and there are even more buildings that incorporate the three Greek orders of columns. There are other buildings that derive their styles from Ancient Egypt. One for example is the Washington Memorial. Other buildings such as skyscrapers have emphasis on height while other more modern architects express themselves through original shapes and artistic designs.