Portal:Architecture/Selected article archive/Archive 2

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Milwaukee Art Museum, opened May 4, 2001, featuring the wing-like brise soleil.

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born July 28, 1951) is a Spanish architect whose work has become increasingly popular worldwide.

Calatrava was born in Valencia, Spain, where he pursued undergraduate studies at the Architecture School and Arts and Crafts School. Following graduation in 1975, he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland for graduate work in civil engineering. Calatrava was influenced by the French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier, whose Notre Dame du Haut chapel caused Calatrava to examine how complex form could be understood and generated in architecture. In 1981 after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice.

Calatrava's unique, creative, and highly influential style combines a striking visual architectural style that interacts harmoniously with the rigid principles of engineering. His work often draws on form and structure found in the natural world, and can be described as anthropomorphic. His works have elevated the design of some civil engineering projects such as bridges to new heights. He has designed numerous train stations, heralded for their bright, open, and easily-traveled spaces.

While he is primarily known as an architect, Calatrava is also a prolific sculptor and painter, claiming that the practice of architecture combines all the arts into one. (more…)

Panorama of the Poelzig building from the south, demonstrating how the curved shape of the building's façade reduces the impact of its scale

The IG Farben Building or the Poelzig Building was built from 1928 to 1930 as the corporate headquarters of the IG Farben conglomerate in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is also known as the Poelzig Ensemble or Poelzig Complex, and previously as the IG Farben Complex, and the General Creighton W. Abrams Building. A competition to design the building was won by the architect Hans Poelzig. On its completion, the complex was the largest office building in Europe and remained so until the 1950s.

The building was the headquarters for research projects relating to the development of Nazi wartime synthetic oil and rubber, and the production administration of magnesium, lubricating oil, explosives, methanol, and Zyklon B, the lethal gas used in concentration camps. After WWII, the IG Farben Building served as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Command and became the principal location for implementing the Marshall Plan, which largely financed the post-war reconstruction of Europe. The state apparatus of the Federal German Government was devised there. The IG Farben Building served as the headquarters for the US Army's V Corps and the Northern Area Command (NACOM) until 1995. The US Army renamed the building the General Creighton W. Abrams Building in 1975. (more…)

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Baden-Powell House, colloquially known as B-P House, is a Scouting hostel and conference centre in South Kensington, London, which was built as a tribute to Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. The house, owned by The Scout Association, hosts a collection of Baden-Powell memorabilia, including the original Baden-Powell painting by David Jagger, Baden-Powell's Last Message to Scouts, and a granite statue by Don Potter.

The building committee, chaired by Sir Harold Gillett, Lord Mayor of London, purchased the site in 1956, and assigned Ralph Tubbs to design the house in the modern architectural style. The Foundation Stone was laid in 1959 by World Chief Guide Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, and it was opened in 1961 by Queen Elizabeth II. The largest part of the £400,000 cost was provided by the Scout Movement itself. Over the years, the house has been refurbished several times, so that it now provides modern and affordable lodging for Scouts, Guides, and their family, staying in London. (more…)

A Roman mosaic showing Theseus and the Minotaur. From Rhaetia, Switzerland

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure constructed for King Minos of Crete and designed by the legendary artificer Daedalus to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull and which was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a fateful thread to wind his way back again, a clue to the single path of the labyrinth.

The term labyrinth is often used interchangeably with maze, but modern scholars of the subject use a stricter definition. For them, a maze is a tour puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage, with choices of path and direction, while a single-path ("unicursal") labyrinth has only a single, Eulerian path to the centre. A labyrinth has an unambiguous through-route to the centre and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate. (more…)

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A maze is a tour puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage through which the solver must find a route. This is different from a labyrinth, which (strictly speaking) has an unambiguous through-route and is not designed to be difficult to navigate (despite the common uses of the word to indicate various complex, confusing structures). The pathways and walls in a maze or labyrinth are fixed (pre-determined). Maze-type puzzles where the given walls and paths may change during the game are covered under the main puzzle category of tour puzzles.

Mazes have been built with walls and rooms, with hedges, turf, or with paving stones of contrasting colors or designs, or in fields of crops such as corn or, indeed, maize. Maize mazes can be very large; they are usually only kept for one growing season, so they can be different every year, and are promoted as seasonal tourist attractions. One type of maze consists of a set of rooms linked by doors (so a passageway is just another room in this definition). Players enter at one spot, and exit at another, or the idea may be to reach a certain spot in the maze. Mazes can also be printed or drawn on paper to be followed by a pencil or fingertip. One of the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges featured a book that was a literary maze. Various maze generation algorithms exist for building mazes, either by hand or by computer. (more…)

The Palace of Westminster lies on the bank of the River Thames in the heart of London

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, England is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business. The Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close by other government buildings in Whitehall. Coordinates: 51°29′58″N 0°07′29″W / 51.49944°N 0.12472°W / 51.49944; -0.12472

The oldest part of the Palace still in existence, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097. The palace originally served as a royal residence but no monarch has lived in it since the 16th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 19th century, when the Palace was rebuilt after it was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1834. The architect responsible for rebuilding the Palace was Sir Charles Barry with Augustus Welby Pugin. The building is an example of Gothic revival. One of the Palace's most famous features is the clock tower, a tourist attraction that houses the famous bell Big Ben. The latter name is often used, erroneously, for the clock itself, which is actually part of St Stephen's Tower.

The Palace contains over 1,000 rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons. The Palace also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining-rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the State Opening of Parliament. The Palace is very closely associated with the two Houses, as shown by the use of the word "Westminster" to refer to "Parliament". Parliamentary offices overspill into nearby buildings such as Portcullis House, and Norman Shaw Buildings. (more…)

View of Magdeburg with the cathedral on the right

The Cathedral of Magdeburg, officially called the Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice (known as Magdeburger Dom in German) was the first Gothic cathedral in Germany and with a height of 99,25 and 100.98  m, it is the tallest cathedral in the former East Germany. The cathedral is in Magdeburg, the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, and is also home to the grave of Otto I the Great.

The first church built in 937 at the location of the current cathedral was an abbey called St. Maurice, dedicated to Saint Maurice. The current cathedral was constructed over the period of 300 years starting from 1209, and the completion of the steeples took place only in 1520. Despite being repeatedly looted, the Cathedral of Magdeburg is rich in art, ranging from antiques to modern art.(more…)

Belton House, Lincolnshire, The South facade.

Belton House is a country house near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. The mansion is surrounded by formal gardens and a series of avenues leading to follies within a greater wooded park. Belton has been described as a compilation of all that is finest of Carolean architecture, the only truly vernacular style of architecture that England had produced since the time of the Tudors. The house has also been described as the most complete example of a typical English country house; the claim has even been made that Belton's principal facade was the inspiration for the modern British motorway signs (HH icon.png) which give directions to stately home. Only Brympton d'Evercy has been similarly lauded as the perfect English country house.

For three hundred years, Belton House was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust family, who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century. Between 1685 and 1688 the young Sir John Brownlow and his wife had the present mansion built. Despite great wealth they chose to build a modest country house rather than a grand contemporary Baroque palace. The contemporary, if provincial, Carolean style was the selected choice of design. However, the new house was fitted with the latest innovations such as sash windows for the principal rooms, and more importantly completely separate areas for the staff. As the Brownlows rose from baronets to barons upward to earls and then once again became barons, successive generations made changes to the interior of the house which reflected their changing social position and tastes, yet the fabric and design of the house changed little.(more…)

A modest shotgun house in New Orleans' Bayou St. John neighborhood shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Shotgun houses are defined by their narrow, rectangular structure.

The shotgun house is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with doors at each end. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the Civil War (1861–65), through to the 1920s. Alternate names include shotgun shack, shotgun hut, shotgun cottage, and railroad apartments. The style was developed in New Orleans, but the houses can be found as far away as Chicago, California or Key West, Florida. Shotgun houses are still the most prevalent housing style in many southern cities and towns. Though initially as popular with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century. Opinion is now mixed: some houses are bulldozed due to urban renewal, while others are beneficiaries of historic preservation and gentrification.

Shotgun houses consist of three to five rooms in a row with no hallways. The term "shotgun house," which was in use by 1903 but became more common after about 1940, is often said to come from the saying that one could fire a shotgun through the front door and the pellets would fly cleanly through the house and out the back door. However, the name's origin may actually reflect an African architectural heritage, perhaps being a corruption of a term such as to-gun, which means, "place of assembly" in the Southern Dohomey Fon area.

Several variations of shotgun houses allow for additional features and space, and many have been updated to the needs of future generations of owners. The oldest shotgun houses were built without indoor plumbing, and this was often added later (sometimes crudely). "Double-barrel" shotgun houses consist of two houses sharing a central wall, allowing more houses to be fitted into an area. "Camelback" shotgun houses include a second floor at the rear of the house. In some cases, the entire floor plan is changed during remodeling to create hallways. (more…)

A reconstruction of the templon of St. Paul's and Peter's Cathedral.

A templon (from Greek τέμπλον meaning "temple", plural templa) is a feature of Byzantine architecture that first appeared in Christian churches around the fifth century AD and is still found in some Eastern Christian churches. It eventually evolved into the modern iconostasis, still found in Orthodox churches today. It separates the laity in the nave from the priests preparing the sacraments at the altar. It is usually composed of carved wood or marble colonnettes supporting an architrave (a beam resting on top of columns). Three doors, a large central one and two smaller flanking ones, lead into the sanctuary. The templon did not originally obscure the view of the altar, but as time passed, icons were hung from the beams, curtains were placed in between the colonnettes, and the templon became more and more opaque. It is often covered with icons and can be very elaborate.

The templon most likely has an independent origin from that of Latin chancel barriers. Classical stage architecture is one possible source. At certain times during Byzantine history, theater heavily influenced painting and sculpture. Architects then, influenced by stage backdrops dating back to Sophocles, consciously imitated the classical proscenium (the backdrop of a classical Greek stage), copying the multiple columns punctuated by a large door in the middle and two smaller doors to each side. The statues on top of the backdrop would thus be analogous to the icons of the saints looking down.[1] The similarities, however, are probably only visual. Although classical drama was performed in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, during the 5th and 6th century when the first templa appear, when Christian liturgy was first being developed, the plays and their architecture had lost their importance and could not have influenced Christian ritual. (more…)

Sir John Vanbrugh in Godfrey Kneller's Kit-cat portrait, considered one of Kneller's finest portraits.

Sir John Vanbrugh (pronounced "Van'-bru") (January 24, 1664?–March 26, 1726) was an English architect and dramatist, perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace. He wrote two argumentative and outspoken Restoration comedies, The Relapse (1696) and The Provoked Wife (1697), which have become enduring stage favourites but originally occasioned much controversy.

Vanbrugh was in many senses a radical throughout his life. As a young man and a committed Whig, he was part of the scheme to overthrow James II, put William III on the throne and protect English parliamentary democracy, dangerous undertakings which landed him in the dreaded Bastille of Paris as a political prisoner. In his career as a playwright, he offended many sections of Restoration and 18th-century society, not only by the sexual explicitness of his plays, but also by their messages in defence of women's rights in marriage. He was attacked on both counts, and was one of the prime targets of Jeremy Collier's Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage. In his architectural career, he created what came to be known as English Baroque. His architectural work was as bold and daring as his early political activism and marriage-themed plays, and jarred conservative opinions on the subject more....

Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose.

Constructivist architecture emerged from the wider constructivist art movement of 1914-1920 which had been initially inspired from 1914-1920 by the sculptures of Alexander Archipenko and Picasso's reliefs. Constructivist art had attempted to apply a three-dimensional cubist vision to wholly abstract non-objective 'constructions' with a kinetic element. After the Russian revolution of 1919 it turned it's attentions to the new social demands and industrial tasks required of the new regime. Two distinct threads emerged, the first was encapsulated in Antoine Pevsner's and Naum Gabo's Realist manifesto which was concerned with space and rhythm, the second represented a struggle within the Education Commissariat between those who argued for pure art and the productivists, a more socially-oriented group who wanted this art to be absorbed in industrial production.

A split occurred in 1922 when Pevsner and Gabo emigrated. The movement then developed along socially utilitarian lines. The productivist majority gained the support of the Proletkult and the magazine Lef, later becoming the dominant influence in the architectural group O.S.A. Read more....