Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IAR221- Unit Summary #3- Explorations

In focusing on the explorations of architecture, we as a class have looked at the world's fair, arts + crafts movement, reform, art deco, and modernism. It is now that all past learning comes together and allows us to see the continuation of history, advances in technology, and locality/regionalism in architecture and objects that are designed. It brings us to the current designs of today and leads us to ponder our own design thinking and question what we can do to further move architecture along.

The world's fair began in 1851 at the London Crystal Palace. It is at this event that people can discover the world without having to travel around it. The purpose of the world's fair is to be a commemorative, commercial, collaborative, and celebratory event. It helps one remember what important events and things took place within that time as well as commercialize what new trends are available and to celebrate the world as a whole. At the fair, people can visit exhibitions (agriculture/arts). There also exists buildings that represent each state. Often a sculpture or building will be built to represent the fair and then torn down after the event. But, some still exist today like the Eiffel tower and the Seattle space needle.

It is around this time that the arts + crafts movement began to unfold. Machines were able to begin making things and the desire for handmade things became more expensive. Machines are cheaper, thus being able to produce more for people. Yet, people like William Morris believe the notion of "good design for all". Just because production is now cheaper does not mean design can not be well developed. According to Ashbee, "we do not reject the machine, we welcome it, but we desire to see it mastered." Through this realization that design must not be lost and that things do matter people and designers begin to focus on the natural beauty of things and the importance of things that often people take for granted. A great example of this is through the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. In his designing of Fallingwater, he chooses to incorporate the cantilever throughout the whole design and emphasizes the waterfall throughout, even in the use of floor material. Everthing relates to the horizontality of landscape and cantilever which allows for the verticallity and drop of the waterfall to stand out. Wright also uses the hearth to center and pull together his houses and makes natural heat and light source an important aspect as well. Perhaps one could suggest that Frank Lloyd's wright work took on an art nouveau style, making art (nature) part of everyday life through architecture, furniture, etc. However, the art nouveau movement doesn't last and art deco begins to thrive.

Art deco, once beginning in Paris in the 1920s, represented a type of elegance, functionality, and modernism that art nouveau did not have. Embracing many different styles from the early 20th C., it also drew from the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs too. Art deco was purely and solely decorative and did not have any other intentions. Great examples of this movement can be seen in some skyscrapers in NYC. A few to name are the Chrysler Building, the Empire State building, and the Rockefeller Center. The Chrysler building, with is ornamentation for example shows how important the automobile was during the time period. This ornamentation represents this through the shinny automobile material placed on top the structure. This ornamentation and decorative movement begins to make others seek a rejection from tradition and decorations. They begin to feel the design was outdated with the current ecomonic time period. This led to the rise of modernism.

Modernism is the 20th C. architectural style characterized by undecorated rectilinear forms and the use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete. One of the first efforts of achieving this modernism was done by the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier. Making the building modern, he still pulls to the importance of the automobiles importance to the economics of the time and designs the ground floor plan around the turning radius of the client's automobile. Another example of madernism is the Farnsworth house by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This private residence shows modernism through is use of material, there being no walls and just panes of glass. The structure takes into consideration the land area and natural sources. Though having all glass panes does cause issues with heating and cooling of the space. Therefore, we begin to see the challenges modernism faces.

The challenges of modernism consists of technology, history, and locality/regionalism of the place. A few example of these challenges are:
The Boston public library ext. by johnson + burgee  (history)
Lloyd's of London by Piano +Rogers (technology)
Sea ranch condominiums by Moore (locality)
These show the challenges that modernism faces. Though modernism is accepted and worthy, we must not forget the challenges it faces. As a designer it is important to face the challenges and come up with solutions to better modernism of today. Most importantly, for any designer it is to discover what makes you as a designer who you are and to find those things that inspire you. So someday you can make a new design movement of your own.

Sources: Roth, Ching

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