An Explosion of Materials, Ideas, and Structure

The Opus Project Series Two

Art comes from many places and spaces in the world. To an electrical engineer, to illuminate could mean to brighten an area physically. In a simple art class illumination could mean to emphasize light from the darkness or accentuate a specific type of color balance. In the Interior Architecture program we use illumination in multiple ways. Students in the “iARC” program explode color onto a page to highlight a specific type of color, mood, or theme. For example, in a chocolate customs specialty store the color brown could be scattered throughout the plans to show a chocolate theme. To illuminate – or light - a building is to make it beautiful. “…The most powerful element in our perception of architecture is light” (Roth, 85). I believe when he says this he means that the only good way to see architecture is for it to be illuminated by natural light if not artificial. For example, the pillars of Stonehenge are not as awe striking as if seen during the day. The reason is because the light reflects and creates shadows of the imaginary giants that constructed and created this heavy structure.

Cro-Magnon’s made their homes out of mammoth bones and hides; Early humans used stones to create Stonehenge; Egyptians used sand, water, clay and stone to create tombs and mastabas, but why? It is because mammoth bones, hides, stones, sand, and water were the only materials around during that specific time. Roth states, "this rich silt provided the only readily available building material - clay" (Roth, 183). Later on the Egyptians were able to acquire wood and utilize them into their structures. Sometimes architects and designers use materials to stick with a theme of the previous surrounding buildings. For example, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Maud Gatewood building was designed with the red brick material to stay consistent with the traditional brick theme throughout the campus. I believe that materials were one of the beginning stepping stones of architecture and play an incredible role in the reasoning in building architecture today. Last week, our class had to create an artifact using materials around us. I created a mask or disguise to promote the trickery in "The Little Red" cap fairy tale using plastic cups and t-shirt fabric. I chose those materials because it was inexpensive and had eyeglass frames. Carlos' made a hat using cloth and a frame to provide firmness, delight, and commodity.

Commodity, Delight, Firmness

Sir Henry Wotton states, “In Architecture, as in all operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well building hath three conditions: commodity, firmness, and delight(Roth, 11). Commodity can best be described as something that is in demand or in need of. For example, a building with classrooms is a commodity for a school. Roth also helps determine commodity by illustrating the Crown Hall by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Roth, 14). It determines commodity because if its functional it holds commodity. In an agricultural standpoint commodity can be a goods such as sugar, salt, coffee beans, gold, and silver. Money is a commodity. Everyone needs and wants money because to some people, money is necessary to live.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France can best illustrate firmness. It is held together with steel and has stood for over a century. Gustave Eiffel, created this tower with four bases and converged them to a point. This building is used as a place to observe the entire city of France and also as a broadcasting tower. Delight, is incorporated in design by using light refractions throughout the piece of architecture. The Notre Dame de Paris is a giant structure that overlooks the city with a gothic-like decoration. At night, the incorporated light fixtures attached to the building illuminate the Notre Dame de Paris in a bright radiance. Pieces such as the Louvre also provide delight by covering a gigantic pyramid in glass.

VisitingDc. February 3, 2009. http://www.visitingdc.com/images/louvre-museum-picture.jpg

Patrick Lucas states that to be idiomatic is to be “additive, subtractive, unspecialized, multi-generational, tradition bound, and shared by all”. An idiom is “a phrase whose meaning cannot be determined by the literal definition of the phrase itself, but refers to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use” (Wikipedia). “It’s raining cats and dogs”, cannot be understood without the context around the conversation. In architecture a building that has no essential use to the area around it could be an idiomatic decision.