Saturday, March 7, 2009

Junctions, D.C. Shelton

Junctions can be found in every lesson of the Foundations Unit. A junction is a meeting of two or more ideas that combine into one. With design it can apply to a multitude of things: man verses animal, architecture verses nature, light verses shadow, natural verses synthetic, etc. In architectural history, the most common junction is of one culture borrowing from the ideas, styles and technologies of past cultures. These joinings can be smooth and seamless or can contrast.
The ancient Romans were the masters of borrowing from other civilizations. They did not try to hide their Greek columns, even their gods and goddesses, nor their Egyptian obelisks. Columns that the Greeks evolved and perfected and used for structural support were used by the Romans as pilasters adorning the facades of their buildings. The Romans also erected massive, freestanding columns, an idea from the Egyptians, as symbols of masculinity, victory and pride. Also like the Egyptians, they would carve images into their stonework to illustrate stories of war and triumph of the benefactor.

Roman & Egyptian Column
Also, Romans were very imposing upon the landscape. Unlike the Greeks, who would build with the topography of the site, Romans would cut out and level and build up the site until it was like they wanted. For example, a Greek designer would build an amphitheater on a hill, where the slope of the land would serve as the basis for seating. Romans, however, as shown in the Coliseum, was built without regards to the terrain.
Other junctions can also be found within design, such as the decision to use local or foreign materials. In Egyptian architecture, buildings were predominately made out of the very sandstone of which their landscape was made. This is a practice that makes some things easier, such as traveling expense and labor. Using local goods help to blend architecture into the landscape and make it seem like it fits its environment. Greeks and Romans also used materials that were more readily available. But, as was the case in the creation of Stonehenge, some designers choose materials that are not local. The stones used for it came from a location very far from the site. This decision not only preserves the local landscape from mutilation, but it makes the structure stand out from the architecture.

Classical Orders
One thing that the Romans did to make an idea their own was to put their own style into it. Their use of columns was often more ornamental unlike the Greeks who used them for load bearing properties. Also, Romans first developed arches, domes and concrete. These three components made everything that they were used in unique. Arches opened up a huge new venue of possibilities to the world. Concrete allowed a brand new surface treatment to be used on buildings which could be molded into any shape and would offer great support.
Junctions, overall, are more common than people may think. It is very important to learn from other peoples’ designs, technologies and artifacts. You never know what you might be able to use of theirs if you can put your own spin on it to make it functional for your visions.

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