Portal:Architecture/Selected article archive/Archive 3

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The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 1700's. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell if they are being observed or not, thus conveying a "sentiment of an invisible omniscience." In his own words, Bentham described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example."

Bentham derived the idea from the plan of a military school in Paris designed for easy supervision, itself conceived by his brother Samuel who arrived at it as a solution to the complexities involved in the handling of large numbers of men. Bentham supplemented this principle with the idea of contract management, that is, an administration by contract as opposed to trust, where the director would have a pecuniary interest in lowering the average rate of mortality. The Panopticon was intended to be cheaper than the prisons of his time, as it required fewer staff; "Allow me to construct a prison on this model," Bentham requested to a Committee for the Reform of Criminal Law, "I will be the gaoler. You will see ... that the gaoler will have no salary -- will cost nothing to the nation." As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched. According to Bentham's design, the prisoners would also be used as menial labor walking on wheels to spin looms or run a water wheel. This would decrease the cost of the prison and give a possible source of income. Read more....

Coney island parachute jump 2.jpg
parachute jump
Coney Island

The Parachute Jump is a no-longer-operational amusement ride in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, whose iconic open-frame steel structure remains a Brooklyn landmark. Eighty meters (262 ft) tall and weighing 170 tons (150 tonnes), it has been called the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn". It was built for the 1939 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, and moved to its current site, then part of the Steeplechase Park amusement park, in 1941. It is the only portion of Steeplechase Park still standing today. The ride ceased operations in the 1960s.

The ride was based on functional parachutes which were held open by metal rings throughout the ascent and decent. Twelve cantilevered steel arms sprout from the top of the tower, each of which supported a parachute attached to a lift rope and a set of surrounding guide cables. Riders were belted into a two-person canvas seat hanging below the closed chute, then hoisted to the top, where a release mechanism would drop them, the descent slowed only by the parachute. Shock absorbers at the bottom, consisting of pole-mounted springs, cushioned the landing. Each parachute required three cable operators, keeping labor expenses high. (more....)

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Estate.jpg
Thomas Jefferson's
Monticello Estate

Monticello, located near Charlottesville, Virginia, was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia. The house is of Jefferson's own design and is situated on the summit of an 850-foot-high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. Monticello, in Italian, means "little mountain."

An image of the west front of Monticello was featured on the reverse of the 5 cent coin of the United States of America coined from 1938 to 2003 (the image returns to the reverse on the 2006 coin design) and on the reverse of the United States of America two dollar bill that was printed from 1928 to 1966. Monticello was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.

St Basils Cathedral closeup.jpg
Saint Basil's

An onion dome (Russian: луковичная глава, lúkovichnaya glava) is a type of architectural dome usually associated with Russian Orthodox churches. Such a dome is larger in diameter than the drum it is set upon and its height usually exceeds its width. These bulbous structures taper smoothly to a point, and strongly resemble the onion, after which they are named.

Other important types of Orthodox cupolas are antique helmet domes (for example, those of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod and Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir), Ukrainian pear domes (Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev), and Baroque bud domes (St. Andrew's Church in Kiev). (more....)

Angkor wat temple.jpg
Angkor Wat
Temple, Cambodia

Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built for king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. The largest and best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre—first Hindu, then Buddhist—since its foundation. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temples. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the gods in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 km (2.2 miles) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. As well as for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, the temple is admired for its extensive bas-reliefs and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls. (more....)

Vitra Design Museum, side view, evening.jpg
Vitra Design Museum

The Vitra Design Museum is an internationally renowned, privately owned museum for design in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Vitra CEO Rolf Fehlbaum founded the museum in 1989 as an independent private foundation. The Vitra corporation provides it with a financial subsidy, the use of Vitra architecture, and organisational cooperation. The opening of a Berlin branch is scheduled for 2007.

The museum's collection, focusing on furniture and interior design, is centered around the bequest of U.S. designers Charles and Ray Eames, as well as numerous works of designers such as George Nelson, Alvar Aalto, Verner Panton, Dieter Rams, Jean Prouvé and Michael Thonet. It is one of the world's largest collections of modern furniture design, including pieces representative of all major periods and styles from the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards. (more…)

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The Petronas Towers
Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers (also known as the Petronas Towers), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were once the world's tallest buildings when measured from the level of the main entrance to the structural or architectural top. The Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world, and they lay claim to being the world's tallest high rise of the 20th century.

These towers, which were designed by architect César Pelli, were completed in 1998 and became the tallest buildings in the world on the date of completion. The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. They were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. The 120-meter foundations were built by Bachy Soletanche, and required massive amounts of concrete.

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Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Taj Mahal in Agra

The Tāj Mahal (Urdu: تاج محل‎, Hindi: ताज महल) is a mausoleum located in Agra, India. The Mughal Emperor Shāh Jahān commissioned it as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Construction began in 1632 and was completed in 1648. Some dispute surrounds the question of who designed the Taj; it is clear a team of designers and craftsmen were responsible for the design, with Ustad Isa considered the most likely candidate as the principal designer.[1]

The Taj Mahal (sometimes called "the Taj") is generally considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements of Persian and Indian. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar part of the monument, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 when it was described as a "universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".[1] (more…)

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The interior of the Pantheon,
painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini

The Grand Tour was a European travel itinerary that flourished from about 1660 until the arrival of mass rail transit in the 1820s. It was popular amongst young British upper-class men and served as an educational rite of passage for the wealthy. Its primary value lay in the exposure both to the cultural artifacts of antiquity and the Renaissance and to the aristocratic and fashionable society of the European continent. A grand tour could last from several months to several years.

The most common itinerary of the Grand Tour[1] began in Dover, England, and crossed the English Channel to Calais in France. From there the tourist, usually accompanied by a tutor and if wealthy enough a league of servants, acquired a coach—which would be resold on completion—and other travel and transportation necessities (more…)

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  1. ^ See Fussell (1987), Buzzard (2002), Bohls & Duncan (2005)

Main hall of Tōdai-ji by User:Fg2

Tōdai-ji (東大寺), the Eastern Great Temple, is a Buddhist temple in the city of Nara, Japan. Its Great Buddha Hall, reputedly the largest wooden building in the world, houses a colossal statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as the Daibutsu. The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.

During the Tempyō period, the population suffered from disasters and epidemics. In 743, Emperor Shōmu issued a law which stated that the people should make a Buddha to protect themselves. He believed Buddha's power could help the people. 420,000 people contributed and 2,180,000 people worked to build it. (more…)

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Scottish Parliament site plan.jpg
Scottish Parliament Building
at Holyrood designed by the
Catalan architect Enric Miralles
and opened in October 2004

The Scottish Parliament Building is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh. Construction on the building commenced in June 1999 and the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate in the new building on Tuesday, 7 September 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth II took place on 9 October 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died during the course of its construction.

From 1999 until the opening of the new building in 2004, committee rooms and the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament were housed in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland located on The Mound in Edinburgh. Office and administrative accommodation in support of the Parliament were provided in buildings leased from Edinburgh City Council. The new Scottish Parliament Building brought together these different elements into one purpose built parliamentary complex, housing 129 MSPs and more than 1,000 staff and civil servants.

From the outset, the building and its construction have proven to be highly controversial. The choices of location, architect, design and construction company were all criticised by politicians, the media and the Scottish public. Scheduled to open in 2001, it did so in 2004, more than three years late with an estimated final cost of £431m, substantially higher than initial costings of between £10m and £40m. A major public inquiry into the handling of the construction, chaired by the former Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser, was established in 2003. The inquiry concluded in September 2004 and criticised the management of the whole project from the realisation of cost increases down to the way in which major design changes were implemented. Despite these criticisms and a mixed public reaction, the building was welcomed by architectural academics and critics. The building conceives a poetic union between the Scottish landscape, its people, its culture and the city of Edinburgh. This approach won the parliament numerous awards including the 2005 Stirling Prize and has been described as "a tour de force of arts and crafts and quality without parallel in the last 100 years of British architecture". (more....)

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The Kunsthaus Graz at night
showing the BIX media Façade

The Kunsthaus Graz, Grazer Kunsthaus, or Graz Art Museum was built as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2003 and has since become an architectural landmark in Graz, Austria. Its exhibition program specializes in contemporary art of the last four decades.

Its unusual form differs radically from conventional exhibition contexts, many of which maintain the traditions of the modernist "White Cube". The team of architects used an innovative stylistic idiom, known as blob architecture within the historical ambiance of the Murvorstadt. Thus, the gigantic building affectionately called the "Friendly Alien" by its creators Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, in form and material, stands out consciously against the surrounding baroque roof landscape with its red clay roofing tiles but nevertheless integrates the façade of the 1847 iron house. (more....)

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The Château de Menars
across the Loire.

The Château de Menars is a château associated with Madame de Pompadour situated on the bank of the Loire at Menars (Loir-et-Cher) in France. In spite of successive additions, the Château de Menars preserves a simplicity of planning and of construction, with a certain austerity reflecting the original spirit of the châteaux of the seventeenth century. The later additions are still perfectly readable, with the central body and its two pavilions between which the parts added by Marigny fit and beyond which the two wings created by Gabriel extend.

The corps de logis on the ground floor presents a large gallery nowadays, created in 1912 by combining three spaces. The main building still presents three large parts - the old hall in the center, room with a dais on the left and salon for company on the right - ornate woodwork designed by Gabriel as well as chimneypieces surmounted with mirrors. The staircase of stone, as well as the unusual dado of mahogany in the library on the first floor, date from the transformations effected by the Marquis de Marigny.

Jean-Jacques Cartwright, in the second half of the seventeenth century, arranged a formal garden with parterres, turf boulingrins, a canal with other bodies of water, and two planted avenues "of elms in four rows, one of six hundred toises and the others of four hundred" whence the view contains the Loire and the surrounding countryside.

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Simo Paavilainen
Modern marble arch in front
of the main entrance to
the University of Vaasa, by
Simo and Käpy Paavilainen.

Simo Paavilainen (born 1944) is a Finnish architect, and Dean and Professor of Architecture at Helsinki University of Technology Department of Architecture. Paavilainen studied architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, qualifying as an architect in 1975. Since 1977 he has run an architects' office in Helsinki together with his wife Käpy Paavilainen, Arkkitehtuuritoimisto Käpy ja Simo Paavilainen Oy. He was appointed Professor of Architecture at Helsinki University of Technology Department of Architecture in 1998, and dean of the school in 2004.

The work of the Paavilainens first came to attention in the early 1980s, at a time when Finnish critics were adamant that Postmodernism was having no significant influence on architecture in Finland, one of the bastions of Modernist architecture. Against this trend, the Paavilainens introduced a strain of playfulness, colour and irony into Modernism. While part of the reasons for their style of architecture is certainly derived from following international trends, this also took on a local concern: in attempting to gain academic respectability, the Postmodern theorists, such as Charles Jencks, Michael Graves and Charles Willard Moore, turned their attention to earlier proto-Postmodernism, one of the prime examples being the architecture in the Nordic countries during the 1920s, so-called Nordic Classicism, and in particular the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. Scholars in the Nordic countries became well aware of the international attention, and the architecture of that period, which had been forgotten in the onslaught of Modernism, was then 'rediscovered', as evident in various books and exhibitions. Simo Paavilainen emerged as one of the key academics in the field; but his interest then spilled over into his own architectural production. In more recent years, however, his architecture has moved back towards more traditional Modernism, though again, in the spirit of the times. (more....)

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Palace of justice in Poitiers
Palace of justice in Poitiers

The Palace of Poitiers in Poitiers (French: Palais de justice de Poitiers) began as the seat of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine in the tenth century through twelfth centuries. The former Merovingian kingdom of Aquitaine was re-established by Charlemagne for his son Louis the Pious. A palace was constructed for him in the ninth century above a Roman wall datable to the late third century, at the highest location of the town. Louis stayed there many times as a king and then returned to the palace after becoming emperor, in 839 and 840. After the disintegration of the Carolingian realm, the palace became the seat of the Counts of Poitiers. The first palace of Poitiers was completely destroyed by a fire in 1018.

The palace was completely rebuilt, straddling the wall, by the Counts-Dukes of Aquitaine, then at the pinnacle of their power. In 1104, Count William IX added the dungeon on the town side. It is known as the tour Maubergeon, after his mistress Amauberge ("the Dangerous"), wife of Vicomte Aimery de Chatellerault and grandmother of Alienor of Aquitaine. The rectangular keep is reinforced with four smaller square towers projecting from each corner; it was greatly damaged when the southern portion of the palace was set ablaze by Henry of Grosmont in 1346.

Between 1191 and 1204, Alienor fitted up a dining hall (50 metres in length, 17 metres in width), perhaps the largest in contemporary Europe. The hall had not retained its ceiling; it has been covered by chestnut woodwork, constructed in 1862 by a team of marine carpenters from La Rochelle. The walls of the hall are daubed and painted so as to imitate stone facing. Their monotony is relieved by cusped arches resting on slender columns. A stone bench rings the walls of the hall. In the later palace of justice, the medieval dining hall became known as la salle des pas perdus ("hall of lost footsteps"). (more....)

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Photo credit: rightee

The Unité d'Habitation (French, literally, "Housing Union" or "Housing Unit" since Unité has a double meaning in French) is the name of a modernist residential housing design principle developed by Le Corbusier, which formed the basis of numerous housing developments designed by him throughout Europe with this name. The first and most famous of these buildings, also known as Cité radieuse and, informally, as La Maison du Fada (French - Provençal, "The Lunatic's House"), is located in Marseille, France, built 1947-1952. Probably his most famous work, it proved enormously influential and is often cited as the initial inspiration of the Brutalist architectural style and philosophy.

The Marseille building comprises 337 apartments arranged over twelve stories, all suspended on large piloti. The building also incorporates shops, sporting, medical and educational facilities, and a hotel. The flat roof is designed as a communal terrace with sculptural ventilation stacks and a swimming pool. (more…)

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Château de Ferrières
Photo credit: David Warner

"Neo-Renaissance" is an all encompassing style designation that covers many aspects of those 19th century architectural revival styles which were neither Grecian (see Greek Revival) nor Gothic (see Gothic Revival), but which instead drew for inspiration upon a wide range of classicicizing Italian modes; under the broad designation "Renaissance architecture". Nineteenth-century architects and critics included more than the style of buildings which began in Florence and central Italy in the early 15th century (as an expression of Humanism), they also included styles we would identify as Mannerist, Baroque; or specifically Italianate or Second Empire styles.

The varying forms in which architecture developed in different parts of Europe, particularly France and Italy, during the Renaissance period has added further to the difficulties in defining and recognising Neo-Renaissance architecture. When one compares the English Wollaton Hall, Italian Palazzo Pitti, the French Château de Chambord, and the Russian Palace of Facets — all deemed "Renaissance" — one can appreciate how divergent the same architectural designation can be. (more…)

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Castle Howard
Photo credit: Dave59

Servants' quarters are that part of a building, traditionally in a private house, which contain the domestic offices and staff accommodation. From the late 17th century until the early 20th century they were a common feature in all large houses. Sometimes they are an integral part of a smaller house - in the basements and attics, especially in a town house, while in larger houses they are often a purpose-built adjacent wing or block. In architectural descriptions, and guide books of stately homes the servants' quarters are frequently overlooked, yet they form an important piece of social history, often as interesting as the principal part of the house itself.

Before the late 17th century, servants dined, slept and worked in the main part of the house with their employers, sleeping wherever space was available. The principal reception room of a house—often known as the "great hall"—would have been completely communal regardless of hierarchy within the household.

Roger Pratt is the architect credited with pioneering the removal of servants from dining in the great hall [1]. in 1650 at Coleshill House he designed the first purpose built servant's hall in the basement. By the end of the century the arrangement was common; the only servants left in the hall were those waiting for a summons. (more…)

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  1. ^ Girouard p 136

Borobudur wall.jpg
Photo credit: frank wouters

Borobudur is a ninth century Buddhist Mahayana monument in Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome is located at the center of the top platform. It is surrounded by seventy-two perforated stupas, each containing one sitting Buddha statue.

The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely, Kamadhatu (the world of desire); Rupadhatu (the world of forms); and Arupadhatu (the world of formless). During the journey, the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.

Evidence suggests Borobudur was abandoned following the fourteenth century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. It was rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Raffles, the British ruler of Java. Since then, Borobudur has been preserved through several restorations. Since 1991, Borobudur has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage and is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction. (more…)

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Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Photo credit: Lmbuga

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is situated in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The cathedral is the reputed burial-place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. It is the destination of the Way of St. James (popularly known by its local denominations: Galician Camiño de Santiago, Portuguese Caminho de Santiago, Spanish Camino de Santiago, French Chemin de St. Jacques, German Jakobsweg, and so on), a major historical pilgrimage route since the Middle Ages.

According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Great brought the Message of Christ to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain. Following Roman persecutions of Spanish Christians, his tomb was abandoned in the 3rd century. Still according to legend, this tomb was rediscovered in 814 AD by Pelayo, a hermit, after witnessing strange lights in the night sky. Bishop Theodemir of Iria recognized this as a miracle and informed the Asturian king Alfonso II (791-842). The king ordered the construction of a chapel on the site. (more…)

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Leiter II Building, South State & East Congress Streets, Chicago
Second Leiter Building, Chicago
Photo credit: HABS

William Le Baron Jenney (25 September 1832—14 June 1907) was an American architect and engineer who became known as the Father of the American skyscraper. He was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on September 25, 1832. His family celebrated a strong Puritan influence. His grandfather, Levi Jenney (1778-1849), was a shipping Captain. His father, William Proctor Jenney (1802-1881), was the owner of a shipping company, which allowed Jenney to travel as a young man.

Jenney first began his formal education at the Lawrence Scientific school at Harvard in 1853, but transferred to L'École Centrale des Artes et Manufactures in Paris to get an education in engineering and architecture. He later returned to US to join the Union Army as an engineer in the Civil War in 1861, designing fortifications for Generals Sherman and Grant. By the end of the war, he had become a major, and was Engineer-in-Charge at Nashville's Union headquarters. After the war, in 1867, Jenney moved to Chicago, Illinois and began his own architectural office, which specialized in commercial buildings and urban planning. During the late 1870s, he commuted weekly to Ann Arbor, Michigan to start and teach in the architecture program at the University of Michigan. In later years future leaders of the Chicago School like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, William Holabird, and Martin Roche, performed their architectural apprenticeships on Jenney's staff. (more…)

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Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral  (built 1248–1880)
Photo credit: Robert Breuer

The Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom, official name: Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria) is one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany and has been the most famous landmark in Cologne since its completion in the late 19th century. The cathedral is under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne. This church has the largest facade (the west or main facade with the twin towers) and remains the second-tallest Gothic structure in the world; only the steeple of the Ulm Münster is higher.

It was built on the site of a 4th century Roman temple, a square edifice known as the 'oldest cathedral' and commissioned by Maternus, the first Christian bishop of Cologne. A second church built on the site, the so-called "Old Cathedral", was completed in 818. This burned down on April 30, 1248. The foundation stone of the present cathedral was laid on August 15, 1248.


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Orion (constellation) rises over Arcosanti
Orion rises over Arcosanti
Photo credit: Ischlueter

Paolo Soleri (June 21, 1919, Turin, Italy) is an Italian-American visionary architect with a life-long commitment to research and experimentation in design and town planning. He established Arcosanti and the educational Cosanti Foundation. Soleri is a distinguished lecturer in the College of Architecture at Arizona State University and a National Design Award recipient in 2006.

The Foundation's major project is Arcosanti, a planned community for 5,000 people designed by Soleri, under construction since 1970. Located near Cordes Junction, about 70 miles north of Phoenix and visible from Interstate I-17 in central Arizona, the project is based on Soleri's concept of "Arcology," architecture coherent with ecology. An arcology is a hyperdense city designed to maximize human interaction; maximize access to shared, cost-effective infrastructural services like water and sewage; minimize the use of energy, raw materials and land; reduce waste and environmental pollution; and allow interaction with the surrounding natural environment. Arcosanti is the prototype of the desert arcology. Since 1970, over 6000 people have participated in Arcosanti's construction.


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Architecture of the Song Dynasty[edit]

The Liuhe Pagoda, or Six Harmonies Pagoda, in Hangzhou, erected in 1156 and fully constructed in 1165 AD.

The architecture of the Song Dynasty was based upon the accomplishments of its predecessors, much like every subsequent dynastic period of China. The hallmarks of Chinese architecture during the Song period were its towering Buddhist pagodas, enormous stone and wooden bridges, its lavish tombs, and palatial architecture. Although literary works on architecture existed beforehand, during the Song Dynasty literature on architecture blossomed into maturity and held a greater professional outlook, described dimensions and working materials in a concise manner, and overall had a greater style of organization than previous works. Architecture in Song artwork and illustrations in published books showing building diagrams also aid modern historians in understanding all the nuances of architecture originating from the Song period.

The profession of the architect, craftsman, carpenter, and building engineer weren't seen as high professions equal to the likes a Confucian scholar-official in pre-modern China. Architectural knowledge was passed down orally for thousands of years in China, from a father craftsman to his son (if the son wished to continue the legacy of his father). However, there were government agencies of construction and building along with engineering schools. The Song literature of building manuals aided not only the various private workshops, but also the government employees enlisted as craftsmen for the central government.


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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…)


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…)


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....