Sir Henry Wotten once stated, “In architecture as in all other operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well-building hath three conditions: Commoditie, Firmness, and Delight.” (Roth, 11) This was proposed as the refinement of Vitruvius' idea of strength, utility, and grace, and is modernly the measure of Design.
The Chrysler Building constructed in 1930 by the renowned Architect, William Van Allen, was an Art Deco success, and stands tall in New York City, New York as a monument to the machine age. Commodity, or function, is the primary reason behind the construction of this building. During this period of time the newest and best was the driving ambition behind all companies, corporations, and commercial businesses. The world no longer settled for, “The small things in life, bring the most happiness.” The goal was the biggest, the fastest, and the flashiest. It was the tallest building in NYC for 11 months, until surpassed by the Empire State building. Finance takes use of over one half of the building, as other businessmen and women work throughout the remaining half. Function is the key concept, out of the three, when we inquire the Chrysler Building. Still standing, and being used today, the architects explicitly proposed the idea of firmness, with foundation and solidity in mind, as clearly this building was not formulated for short-term time span. The delight of this edifice is what gives the Art Deco era it's identity and personality. With the idea of Hollywood glitz and glamor in mind, the profound individuals of the society were very ostentatious, meaning anything with their name on it, must denote and represent near perfection. From the gleaming gargoyles, and the veneered inlayed wood, to the Moroccan red and yellow marble walls, and the gold silk curtains, this creation, for its particular time period, offers generous amounts of satisfying delight.
Pattern of textiles are usually seen as merely another print by many people, while what is often overlooked is the reasoning behind the intricate shapes and forms. Harwood states that “...decorative arts, can embody the values and/or beliefs of a society. In this sense, objects become historical documents or visual records.” (Harwood, xii) This displays to us that every single thing we come into contact with on a daily basis, has a history and reason behind it, we just often times fail to seek it out. From this is where we coin the term design. “Harmony, unity, and careful proportional relationships articulate overall design concepts.” (Harwood, 15) Now that we have come to terms with the fact that everything has been designed, by something or someone, we also must understand that all things are derived from something else, whether it be in a big and apparent way, or a small and concealed way.
The Eastern world's decorative arts embody repetitious patterns, balanced concepts, and unified forms.“The repetition of symbols serves as a comfort...and as a reminder to the gods of their need for protection.” (Harwood, 3) Many symbols are used within their culture to represent ones emotions toward their religious and spiritual idiosyncrasies. Although two different sides of the world may be very altered, one can influence the other by a language as universal as design. Harwood says, “The art, architecture, and design of China and Japan have long influenced the West beginning as far back as classical Rome...” (Harwood, 15) Despite the fact the patterns below are from two different sides of the world, they show very extensive similarities. He also says that, “Although beauty may be thought of differently than in the West, it does exist as a concept, with words of expression, and it is often associated with moral concepts such as goodness.” (Harwood, 3) Repetition along with harmonious features are found throughout these examples, as these forms illustrate to us applied precedents from the East to the West, and reversed.
The Classroom in which we gather for IAR 122 does not allow much space between occupants, as it tries to utilize the room given in the most economical way possible. This seating arrangement allows the lecture hall to capacitate more people, but not at all in a way which is comfortable to them. Hall has acquired this idea of “proxemics,” derived from the word, “proximity,” which ultimately relates to how given area is used by people, and what this shows us about an individual and their culture (Hall, 4). Harwood tells us that “proxemics” is merely a concept which is “the physical distance between people in space” on a social and personal level (Harwood, xiv). He considers that “man and his environment mold one another,” meaning that one being will essentially design the place he will live, due to his either optimistic or pessimistic outlook on life (Hall, 4). Ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, suggests that an increase in population, causing crowding, motivates aggression to build and stress levels to climb until basic communication becomes tense, ultimately allowing a shift in mood (Hall, 5). These examples can be closely related to the classroom setting in which we inhabit as students and teachers on an everyday basis. Being placed in situations which exceed the lines of our comfort levels, whether they be large changes or small, our bodies undergo certain amounts of stress, causing us to lose focus and attention span.
If any architect were to declare it impossible to find even a bit of happiness in architecture, they would be lying to themselves and it would be made unruly to carry on with their career. De Button makes very valid and agreeable points in his work, “The Architecture of Happiness,” about how architecture can make one feel self-conscious, belittled, and unable, but he fails to reflect on how architecture can make one feel accomplished, successful, and fulfilled. He states that, “Architecture is perplexing, too, in how inconsistent is its capacity to generate the happiness on which its claim to our attention is founded.” (De Button, 17) This point is arguable, considering that Architecture is merely a component of identity. Designers and Architects often become attached to their work and obsessive over the way that one would interpret their creations. Once handed over to the client, this creation becomes no longer the creators, but the person or persons who inhabit the space. It is now left up to them to delineate their feelings, outward and inward, the space imprints on them. Ultimately we forge three parties: the Architect or Designer, the client, and the passer-by's, all either pleased or disappointed. De Button makes clear throughout this excerpt, his conviction on the occurrence of false happiness toward an object, or, in this case building, which does not belong to us. This idea seems counteractive as most things enjoyed by individuals, are things which we do not physically posses. He also opposes this idea by stating, “Reverence for beautiful buildings does not seem a high ambition on which to pin our hopes for happiness, at least when compared with the results we might associate with untying a scientific knot or falling in love, amassing a fortune or initiating revolution.” (De Button, 20) All components proposed at the end of this statement are all things in which people can discover within the art of Architecture.
The “Church of Light” designed by Japanese Architect, Tadao Ando, is a prime representation of how architecture can bring one being happiness. Ando not only successfully created a sacred place for people to come and worship, but allows them to walk away with an experience. The congregation of this church does not come to this place regularly to learn a new thing each time about the masterpiece Ando has created, but instead come here to show gratitude toward a higher power. De Button contemplates, “If you really understand what governs the universe, how can you yearn for bits of stone and pretty rock.” (De Button, 11) This brings us the debate of where the happiness is found: he altercates the architecture, where as I would propose the experience the architecture bestows.
PHOTO CREDITS:(in order of appearance)
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