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Department of Architecture. University of Nairobi

Contemporary Architecture Theories

This report seeks to explore the philosophical and conceptual evolution of its ideas, discusses the relation of theory to the practice of building in the modern century. It also documents and examines on the notable architects and buildings that are considered to belong to the contemporary era in the nineteenth century. Report presented by: Hazary Nic Reg. No: B02/0799/2011 Email: Year of Study: year V

Table of content

key concepts 01 Part I: Contextualism 02 Part ii: Critical Regionalism 06 Part iii: Neo-Vernacular 21 Part iv: Post-Modern Arch 30 Part v: De-constructivism 34 References 40

part i

Key Concepts Phenomenology:

• The theory of phenomenology acknowledges this responsibility by implementing sensory design in order to establish experiential, architectural space. Phenomenology demonstrated in architecture is the manipulation of space, material, and light and shadow to create a memorable encounter through an impact on the human senses. • This theory promotes the integration of sensory perception as a function of a built form. This creates an experience that is beyond tangible, but rather abstract, observed and perceived. • Architecture influences the community through incorporating human activity with adapted site context, organized programmatic and interstitial space, and exploration of material. • Phenomenological concept strategies in architectural design intend to develop a unique experience of the phenomena of space, light and form.

Genius Loci:

• The Norwegian architect and phenomenologist Christian Norberg-Schulz is a key theorist in elucidating the concept of genius loci • Effectively, genius loci refers to the The total sum of the characteristics of the site including the views, topography, phenomena and color. • In contemporary usage, “genius loci” usually refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere, or a “spirit of place”.


• Contemporary prominent architects especially Libeskind, Calatrava, Correa and Holl abstain from direct analogy and use narratives, memories, historical events, characteristics related to project subjects or sites or natural structures as metaphors • Metamorphic borrowing is a method used by architects to • The word “metaphor” appears in Post Modern Architecture — the form of protest to modernist architecture. • In post modern architecture, the position of metaphor as architectural grammatical structure becomes the part of the grand “semiotics”, the system of sign in Architecture.

Figure: Le Corbusier interpretation of the


metaphor in the designing of Ron Champ Chapel

Semiology vs Semantics

• Semiotic ‘tools’ help to articulate the form of the expression of the architectural work with the form of the content to make a corresponding reading of the signifying object possible. The form/substance of the content refers to the semantic and syntactic structures that form the sign -object and the meaning communicated by it Page no: 5

part 1

Contextualism Related titles: • Contextual Design • Contextualism Consideration • Contextual Concept and Ethics

Definition: Burden (2001), refers to the contextualism in architecture as: ‘... An approach to urban planning that considers the city in its totality; the view that the experience of a city is greater than the sum of its parts. All architecture must fit into, respond to, and mediate its surroundings (Burden, 2001, p.87). Contextualism can be therefore be defined as the fitting of a building in its specific physical site and surrounding. Contextualism can be seen as a concept that aims to create the relationship and dialogue of unity between a building, its site, its natural environment or its neighborhood. Buildings that express this theory of architecture include:

Part i: Contextualism

Falling Water, Pennsylvania (USA), Frank Lloyd Wright Ron Champ, Ron champ (france), Le Corbusier

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Photo · Notre Dame du Haut, or Ronchamp, Ronchamp, France

Le Corbusier

Brief Information: Born as Charles Edouard Jeanneret on October 6, 1887 in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. He studied at the La Chaux de Fonds Art School. His career spanned five decades and he made significant contributions to the Modernists or International Style.

Part i: Contextualism

He has built works in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. He died on August 27, 1965 of a heart attack while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in south France. Famous Works: 1928 Villa Savoye, Poissy-sur-Seine, France 1947-1952 Unite d’Habition, Marseille, France 1950-1954 Chapel Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France 1952-1959 Buildings in Chandigarh, India.

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Notre Dame du Haut Ronchamp Brief Information: Location: Ronchamp, France Date: 1955 Building Type: Church Construction System: Reinforced concrete Climate: Temperate Context: Rural, mountains Style: Expressionist Modern Notes: Soft-form composition, deep windows with colored glass Discussion Notre-Dame-du-Haut became a statement for Le Corbusier’s late style. Essentially the church is simple—an oblong kind of nave, two side entrances, an axial main altar, and three chapels beneath towers—as is its structure, with rough masonry walls faced with whitewashed Gunite (sprayed concrete) and a roof of contrasting beton brut. However,on a symbolic platform, this small building, is immensely powerful and complex. Figure: Notre Dame du Haut Site Plan

Part I: Contextualism

Figure: Ground Plan

Figure: view of chapel

Characteristics: • Approach route of the chapel is from the Southeast • Chapel is placed at the high point on an East West axis. • Curved wall on the South wall directs visitors up and to the entrance. • The Chapels act as periscopes which establish contact with the distant horizon. • Entry zone has a primary reading because of its thickness and by extending its length beyond the southeast corner. • The North and West walls are built of stone. The South wall has a reinforced concrete frame. • The Southeast parabolic reflector, with it’s outdoor alter, is meant to embrace the pilgrims when they come for a large open-air service. • The site is high on a hill near Belfort in eastern France • There had been a pilgrimage chapel on the site dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but it had been destroyed during the Second World War • Warning against decadence, reformers within the Church looked to renew its spirit by embracing modern art and architecture as representative concepts

Figure: Birds eye view of the church & context

• The site provided the architect with a genius loci for the response, with the horizon visible on all four sides of the hill and its historical legacy for centuries as a place of worship. • The Jura mountains in the distance and the hill itself, dominate the landscape. • The nature of the site would result in an architectural ensemble that has many similarities with the Acropolis – starting from the ascent at the bottom of the hill to architectural and landscape events along the way, before finally terminating at the sanctus sanctorum itself – the chapel. • You cannot see the building until you reach nearly the crest of the hill. From the top, magnificent vistas spread out in all. Commentary

Part I: Contextualism

Le Corbusier seems to understand some key concepts in contextualism. The metaphoric borrowing form various such a veil of a nun, and previous existing church takes a metaphor through a process design with context and express living / idea creating meaningful architecture. Le Corbusier made use of curved surfaces of reinforced concrete to generate a form that is bold and organic. Its necessary to note that the building has evoked poetic notions in the mind of the visitor observing the play of light and shadow on different surfaces.

These windows emit moving patterns of colored light in the interior of the church, creating a deeply moving ambiance.

Figure: The play of light and shadow in th einterior takes advantage of the sites orientation to create


The site played a special part in this project. Looking at the building’s orientation, designed to capture light at different times of the day, the relation between the exterior and interior of the structure, the filters consisting of windows, fissures and apertures, and the locaitons of primary and secondary entrance.

Figure: elevation showing the several elements used in designing the church.

But my thought is that its more than this. le corbusier understood the sancity of the site and sought to define and architecture in keeping with the ‘spirit of place‘, a concept which he himself described as mysterious, irrational, bound up with its geographical location, history, memory and use.

Part i: Contextualism

Figure: elevation showing fenestrations that allow light into the main sanctuary

Figure: Section showing how light is allowed into the church

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Part i: Contextualism

Figure: View of the exterior showing the light wells

Figure: View of the exterior. The windows are creatively arranged to create a play of light in the interior.

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Photo: Falling water residence during winter, Ohiopyle-pennsylvania, USA

Frank Lloyd Wright

Brief Information: Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867.

Part i: Contextualism

Wright evolved a new concept of interior space in architecture. Rejecting the existing view of rooms as single-function boxes, Wright created overlapping and inter-penetrating rooms with shared spaces. He created the idea of defined space as opposed to enclosed space. During the last part of his life, Wright produced a wide range of work. Particularly important was Taliesin West, a winter retreat and studio he built in Phoenix, Arizona. He died at Taliesin West in 1959. Famous Works: 1934 Falling Water, Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania 1956 Guggenheim Museum, New York 1937 Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona 1909 Robie Residence, Chicago, Illinois

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Brief Information: Location: Mill Run, Pensylivania, USA Date: 1939 Building Type: Residential Construction System: Reinforced concrete Climate: Temperate Context: Waterfall Style: Contextual Design Note: Cantilevers dramatically over rock outcropping and rushing stream. Discussion The house was built as a weekend home for owners Mr. Edgar Kaufmann, his wife, and their son, whom he developed a friendship with through their son who was studying at Wright’s school, the Taliesin Fellowship. Wright’s admiration for Japanese architecture was important in his inspiration for this house, along with most of his work. Just like in Japanese architecture, Wright wanted to create harmony between man and nature, and his integration of the house with the waterfall was successful in doing so. Falling water:

Figure: Falling water Site Plan

• The main house of the clients which was built between 1936-1938, and the guest room which was completed in 1939. • The original house contains simple rooms furnished by Wright himself, with an open living room and compact kitchen on the first floor, and three small bedrooms located on the second floor. • The third floor was the location of the study and bedroom of Edgar Jr., the Kaufmann’s son. • The rooms all relate towards the house’s natural surroundings, and the living room even has steps that lead directly into the water below.

Part i: Contextualism

Figure: Ground Plan

Figure: Second floor plan

Figure: Third floor plan Page no: 13


Part i: Contextualism

Figure: The transformation of the building with the different seasons

• The choice of mixed, natural materials and the addition of careful consideration of the surrounding landscape, unequivocally demonstrates a serene, unified space among nature, human interaction and built structure. • Demonstrating strong values of space and emotion through materiality and construction. • Wright’s desire to create a unified and organic composition limited the color palette at Fallingwater. • Only two colors were used throughout:  a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel. The colors were inspired by its surroundings.   Page no: 14

The perfection of these details perfected the house itself, and even though the house tends to have structural problems that need constant maintenance due to its location, there is no question that Fallingwater, now a National Historic Landmark, is a work of genius.

-Open-plan interior spaces covered by continuous glass windows.

A large boulder was integrated right into the hearth. With water running beneath the house, Wright then added widely cantilevered concrete slabs to create terraces across the exterior of the home to echo the stepped horizontal slabs of rock located around the waterfall. I admit to be highly inspired by this house in my study of architecture. Its timelessness design has elevated Wright into a gifted architects category. The mood captured by this design went beyond what the client anticipated. The building complements and completes the site. It succeeds in integrating the spirituality of water & romance.

Part i: Contextualism

Figures: The interiors of the house reflect the same colour theme used throught the design.

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part ii

Critical Regionalism Related titles: • Regional Design • Regionalism Definition: Critical Regionalism is the name given to architecture that draws inspiration from not only its surrounding environment, but also from the use of regional materials and the work of local, not necessarily internationally known, architects who are tuned into the symbolism and values of their own culture. Kenneth Frampton, in his 1983 article “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points of an Architecture of Resistance,” coined the term Critical Regionalism. Since then, regional architects have gone on to respond successfully to issues such as the need for low-cost housing, greater energy efficiency, and more aesthetically sensitive structures that reflect differing cultural and aesthetic backgrounds. In Egypt, Hassan Fathy sought to revitalize the use of mud-brick materials in private houses in a local style.

Part ii: Critical Regionalism

According to Frampton, critical regionalism should adopt modern architecture critically for its universal progressive qualities but at the same time should value responses particular to the context. Emphasis should be on topography, climate, light, tectonic form rather than scenography and the tactile sense rather than the visual. As put forth by Tzonis and Lefaivre, critical regionalism need not directly draw from the context, rather elements can be stripped of their context and used in strange rather than familiar ways. Critical regionalism is different from regionalism which tries to achieve a one-to-one correspondence with vernacular architecture in a conscious way without consciously partaking in the universal. Critical Regionalism is not just regionalism, but it also challenges the architect and visitor to see how world culture and global concerns can be blended with regional issues to create a style that is more critically self-conscious and expansive. Characteristics of critical regionalism: • Combination of regional and modern (culture and civilization) • Integration of regional materials with modern • Emphasis on topography (consideration of geographical context; compatible with the environment/nature) • Tactility • Emphasis on place (not space)

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Photo · Saynatsalo Town hall, finland

Alvar Aalto

Brief Information: Alvar Aalto was born in Kuortane, Finland in 1898, the son of a surveyor.

Part ii: Critical Regionalism

Although his early work borrowed from the neoclassic movement, he eventually adapted the symbolism and functionalism of the Modern Movement to generate his plans and forms. Aalto’s mature work embodies a unique functionalist/ expressionist and humane style, successfully applied to libraries, civic centers, churches, housing. Aalto was a master of form and planning, as well as of details that relate a building successfully to its users. His buildings have provided renewed inspiration in the face of widespread disillusionment with high modernism on one hand, and post-modernism on the other. Aalto died in Helsinki in May 1976. Famous Works: 1938 Villa Mairea, Noormarkku,finland. 1949 Saynatsalo Town hall, saynatsalo, finland

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Säynätsalo Town Hall Brief Information: Location: Saynatsalo, Finland Date: 1949 Building Type: Government offices Construction System: Brick & wood Climate: cold Context: Small Town center Style: Modern, Regional Notes: Branching rafters in council chamber. Courtyard connected back to landscape by grass steps.

Figure: Säynätsalo Town Hall Site

Discussion The design of Alvar Aalto’s Säynätsalo Town Hall is generally regarded as a major transitional event in the Aalto’s distinguished career, as his work moved away from the anonymous cubic typology of internationalism, to a more site-specific and humanistic approach incorporating the tectonic ideals of modernist form. Alvar Aalto’s interest in Mediteranean architecture, particularly the traditional town square, is clearly evident in the Säynätsalo plan. Aalto compared his town hall with Italy’s Palazza Pubblico in Siena, both using the courtyard motif to symbolize the center of community and the unification of democratic values.

Figure: Ground Plan

Part ii: Critical Regionalism

The Säynätsalo Town Hall plan utilizes a two-part parti: a U-shaped administrative component, and a free-standing library block which closes the U while allowing access on either side. This arrangement represents a metaphorical community; council chambers, administrative offices, library, spaces for small business, and residential apartments.

Figure: Interior view showing materiality

The symbolism extends to the vertical organization of these parts with the business spaces on the bottom, at street level, the administrative offices on the second level, and the council chambers occupying the highest level. The partially enclosed courtyard is elevated one-story above street level, partly in response to the building’s sloping site, and partly to acknowledge the increased status of the public realm (civic government), over the private sector (commercial business). The bi-level library massing works to tie the two domains together. Page no: 18

Figure: Intergrated courtyard

• Alto constructed the building into the wooded hillside of Säynätsalo creating a three-story multi-purpose building surrounding an elevated courtyard. • While the main program of the building is housed within a heavy brick envelope, the courtyard is bordered by a glass- enclosed circulation space • The trusses support both the roof and the ceiling, creating airflow to manage condensation in the winter and heat in the summer. • Aalto constrained his material palate to one dominated by brick and accented by timber and copper. Figure: Back elevation integrates with the surrounding

Part ii: Critical Regionalism

• The hall was planned as a multifunction space which would include civic offices and meeting space, private apartment space, shops, a bank, and a library construction.


Figure: The lofty vaulted chamber space imparts a ceremonial monumentality. A pair of spider-like trusses appear more inclined to inspire awe, than support the roof. Unfortunately, the chamber space is unnaturally dark, more like a forbidding courtroom, than a cradle of democracy and transparency. Page no: 19

Aalto’s palette consists of raw, unadorned, materials including red brick, copper, glass and wood. The slightly rusticated brick is stacked in a Flemish bond pattern, accentuating the organic quality of the material, and wraps from the exterior to the interior.

Part ii: Critical Regionalism

The use of brick breaks the abstracted forms down to a fine textured, more humanized scale, and recalls the brick of local vernacular industrial structures. The varied window fenestration patterns reinforce the repetitious patterning of the surrounding forest.

Aalto’s ascending journey to the council chambers is characterized by a series of 90° turns: at the bottom of the granite stair, at the top of the stair to enter the building, inside the reception lobby to face the interior stair, at the mid-flight landing, and finally a turn left into the council chambers where the visitor encounters a large window broken down into patterns of light which shift with your location in the room. The interior of the winding stair is clad entirely with red brick, made more sensuous by the reflected clerestory daylighting. Functionalist planning includes a sliding wood door to close off the council chambers, while allowing late arrivals to enter through the back of the room.

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part iii

Neo-Vernacular Architecture Definition: Neo-vernacular architecture involves the conscious reproduction of vernacular forms, or their transformation into today shells using new green material technologies. “Vernacular architecture is to be the small scale buildings or settlement situations that have survived from the recent past, which were products of a process that involved a relation to environmental contexts, available resources and traditional technologies. Characteristics of Neo-vernacular architecture: Least change in natural resources to keep the natural face of the earth Proper exploitation of the resources near to the site Creating visual harmony between architecture and the natural context Participation of local people in construction process and construction dynamism Blending traditional methods of construction with modern ones by a new technological viewpoint • The use of mixed technologies to introduce and develop new technologies • Relative development of planting building-related trees suitable in the specific climatic conditions

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

• • • • •

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Photo · Mosque in New Gourna village designed by hassan fathy, Egypt.

Hassan Farthy

Brief Information: Hassan Fathy (1900-1989) was one of the first architects to break with modern architecture and to found a new approach based on a conception of interpreting forms and masses from the past. Born to a wealthy family on the 23 March 1900 in Alexandria, Egypt. He moved to Cairo with his family when he was eight years old, and settled in Helwan

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

He was unique in believing that this language could exist alongside that of an aggressively modern one that cut all ties with the past he Designed 160 separate projects from modest country retreats to fully planned communities, markets, schools, theatres, places for worship and for recreation. He pioneered appropriate technology for building in Egypt, especially by working to re-establish the use of mud brick (or adobe) and traditional as opposed to western building designs and lay-outs Famous Works: 1938 Villa Mairea, Noormarkku,finland. 1949 Saynatsalo Town hall, saynatsalo, finland

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Figure: View of the village

Fathy’s Work expresses the following principles: • The belief in the primacy of human values in architecture • The importance of a universal rather than a limited approach • The use of appropriate technology • The need for socially oriented, cooperative construction techniques • The essential role of tradition • The re-establishment of cultural pride through the art of building Hassan Fathy developed his own ideas, inculcating traditional Arab styles like the malkhaf (wind catcher), the shukshaykha (lantern dome) and the mashrabeya (wooden lattice screens) which could be combined with the mud-brick construction.

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

He designed complete communities including utilities and services, country retreats, and special projects and homes.

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New-Gourna Village

Figure: aerial view part of the village masterplan

Brief Information: Location: Near Luxor, Egypt Date: 1948 Building Type: Multifamily Housing, Village Construction System: mud brick & adobe Climate: hot, arid Context: Rural Village Style: Modern Notes: built after local vernacular Figure: Ground Plan

Brief Information The idea for the village was launched by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities as a potentially cost-effective solution to the problem of relocating an entire entrenched community of entrepreneurial excavators that had established itself over the royal necropolis in Luxor.

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

Figure: First floor plan

The village of New Gourna also seemed to offer Fathy a perfect opportunity to finally test the ideas unveiled at Mansouria on a large scale and to see if they really could offer a viable solution to the rural housing problem in Egypt. New Gourna village is located in Luxor on the West Bank of the Nile River, within the World Heritage property of Ancient Thebes in Egypt. The village was designed and built between 1946 and 1952.

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Safeguarding of Hassan Fathy's New Gourna Village

iii: Neo-Vernacular

Agriculture Secondary School Water Plant Fire Station Electricity Station Ambulance Station

Community Hall Secondary School Gourna City Council Education Admin. & Prep. School Police Station and Camp

The Village Mosque The Khan The Theater Veterinary Clinic

Tourist Police Station

Nursery and Garage (Gourna City Council)

Upper Egypt Flour Mills Storage

Traffic Police Station Cattle Breeding Station (Agricultural School) Agriculture Department


Subdivision of an Existing Building

Light Structure


Nevine George Dalia Magdy Mahmoud Qutb

1 - 2000


10 AUGUST, 2010

New Gourna Village Survey Map

Services and Public Buildings


The Village Mosque

Agriculture Secondary School

The Theater Fire Station

Safeguarding of Hassan Fathy's New Gourna Village

The Khan Water Plant

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

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Public Water Tabs and Zeers

Electricity - Transformer

Electricity - Light Pole

Solid Waste - Collection Point Solid Waste - Disposal Bin Sign

Tourist Police Station Ambulance Station

Sewage - Inspection Chamber Sewage - Manhole


Veterinary Clinic

Electricity Station


Landscape - Shrubs

Landscape - Tree Landscape - Palm Tree

Traffic Police Station

Community Hall

Light Structure Subdivision of an Existing Building


(Agricultural School)

Secondary School Cattle Breeding Station

Fence Difference of Building Heights Courtyard

Agriculture Department

Gourna City Council

Nursery and Garage (Gourna City Council)

Police Station and Camp

Nevine George Dalia Magdy Mahmoud Qutb

1 - 1000


10 AUGUST, 2010

New Gourna Village Survey Map

Upper Egypt Flour Mills Storage

Education Admin. & Prep. School

Figure: Intergrated courtyard

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

It was created to shelter the community of Old Gourna (Gournii) who had lived above the tombs in the ancient cemetery of Thebes and whose relocation was considered as a solution to reduce the damages to the Tombs of the Pharaonic period. The main characteristics of New Gourna village consist of • its reinterpretation of a traditional urban and architectural setting • its appropriate use of local materials and techniques • its extraordinary sensitivity to climatic problems. • It demonstrated, within the era of “modern movement” that sustainability and social cohesion could also be met with vernacular architectures, local materials and techniques. For this reason, it is an outstanding example of sustainable human settlement and appropriate use of technology in architecture and planning. Exposed in one of the major architecture and planning references, Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt by Hassan Fathy, published in 1973, these ideas inspired a new generation of architects and planners worldwide through an integration of vernacular technology with modern architectural principles. Page no: 27

Figure: floor plan, south elevation, section and ground and first floor plans

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

Interpretation The Village was meant to be a prototype but rather than subscribing to the current idea of using a limited number of unit types, Fathy took the unprecedented approach of seeking to satisfy the individual needs of each family in the design

He trained local inhabitants to make their own materials and build their own buildings. Climatic conditions, public health considerations, and ancient craft skills also affected his design decisions. Based on the structural massing of ancient buildings, Fathy incorporated dense brick walls and traditional courtyard I think the success of Hassan Fathy architecture is forms to provide passive cooling. that he devoted himself to housing the poor in developing nations and deserves study by anyone involved in rural improvement. Throuout his careeer, Fathy worked to create an indigenous environment at a minimal cost, and in so doing to improve the economy and the standard of living in rural areas. Fathy utilized ancient design methods and materials. He integrated a knowledge of the rural Egyptian economic situation with a wide knowledge of ancient architectural and town design techniques.

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The merging with the new urbanisation has completely disfigured the main road streetscape (right)

The main alterations at the junction of the square with the main road. The iconic image of the village (top left) has been progressively deleted by the construction of a new 4 storey building, whilst, on the western side (right), the craft exhibition hall has been replaced by other inconsistent buildings

ex market area: The market area at the east corner that which was supposed to be one of the main entranc-

Part iii: Neo-Vernacular

es to the village, has been progressively subdivided and converted into an underutilised area of storage, parking and municipal services

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part iv

Post-Modernism Architecture Definition: Post-Modern architecture developed in the 1970s as a reaction to the overly spare aesthetic of the International style. Structures such as Michael Graves’ Portland Public Service Building in Portland, Oregon (1982), reveal a playful and eclectic mix of historical references. Post Modernism: The functional and formalized shapes and spaces of the modernist style are replaced by diverse aesthetics: styles collide, form is adopted for its own sake, and new ways of viewing familiar styles and space abound. Perhaps most obviously, architects rediscovered past architectural ornament and forms which had been abstracted by the Modernist architects. Post modernists do not place their philosophy in a defined box or category. Their beliefs and practices are personal rather than being identifiable with a particular establishment or special interest group.

Part iv: Post Modernism

Characteristics of critical regionalism: Post Modern Characteristics • Monumental front facade, an effect achieved by intentionally manipulating the architectural elements that indicate a building’s scale. • The effect of the chimney is to magnify the scale of the small house and make the facade appear to be monumental. • Non-structural applique arch • “Hole in the wall” windows Proponents of this style include: Robert Venturi Edmond & Corrigan Pty Ltd Philip Johnson Michael Graves Vanna Venturi house, philadelphia (usa), Robert Venturi Guild House, philadelphia (usa), Robert Venturi The Lieb House RMIT Building 8, (usa), Robert Venturi

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Photo · image of robert venturis work, venna venturi house

Robert Venturi

Brief Information: Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. (born June 25, 1925) is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major architectural figures in the twentieth century. Known for coining the maxim “Less is a bore”, a postmodern antidote to Mies van der Rohe’s famous modernist dictum “Less is more”. Famous Works:

Part iv: Post Modernism

1964 Vanna Venturi House, philadelphia, usa

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Vanna Venturi House

Brief Information: Location: Millman, Philadelphia Date: 1964 Building Type: Residential Construction System: Light frame Climate: Temperate Context: Suburban Style: Post-modern Notes: An icon of post-modernism, created for the architect’s mother, and featured in Venturi’s architectural polemic “Complexity and Contradiction”. Brief Information

Figure: Floor plans

Located in the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was designed by architect Robert Venturi for his mother Vanna Venturi, and constructed between 1962 -1964. The main entrance is in the center, creating a sense of symmetry that both is and is not there due to the placement of the windows. These windows are located based on function in the interior. Inside, rather than providing the order and simplicity that the modernists worshipped, Venturi’s design chose to surprise, even jar people, with its contradictions.

Part iv: Post Modernism

Figure: Section

The chimney poking out in an exaggerated manner from the back. wo vertical elements — thefireplace-chimney and the stair —compete, as it were, for centralposition. And each of these elements, one essentially solid, theother essentially void, compromisesin its shape and position — that is,inflects toward the other to make aunity of the duality of the centralcore they constitute. On one side the fireplace distorts in shape andmoves over a little, as does itschimney; on the other side the stairsuddenly constricts its width anddistorts its path because of the chimney The interior design played with concepts of scale, with an oversized fireplace, and an undersized stairway which leads to nowhere. The pitched roof rather than flat roof, the emphasis on the central hearth and chimney Closed ground floor “set firmly on the ground” rather than the Modernist columns and glass walls which open up the ground floor.

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Commentary In Venturis the buildings elements appear as fragments of the whole. • The Venturi House has a large, purely ornamental arch on its facade. • But the Venturi House contradicts it basic symmetry with asymmetric windows. The building in most ways is a contradiction to Modern Architecture. On the front elevation the broken pediment or gable and a purely ornamental applique arch reflect a return to Mannerist architecture and a rejection of Modernism. Thus the house is a direct break from Modern architecture, designed in order to disrupt and contradict formal Modernist aesthetics. More simply, Venturi demonstrated his intentions by literally breaking away from Modernist establishment The house was constructed with intentional formal architectural, historical and aesthetic contradictions. Yet he has also written, “This building recognizes complexities and contradictions. It is both: Complex and simple, Open and closed, Big and little. Some of its elements are good on one level and bad on another. Its order accommodates the generic elements and of the house in general, and the circumstantial elements of a house in particular.

Part iv: Post Modernism

In my view, this is a house fueled by a desire to break away from the modern movement in order to show a different perspective of architecture. This way there occurs many contradictions.

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part V

De-Constructivism Architecture Related Terms: Deconstructive thinking Definition: The term de-construct-ivism describes what happens in someones head; the basic idea of an object (like house, for example) is smashed [=deconstructed] into smallest possible pieces, each of them is carefully thought over and then re-constructed back with new logic. It is a movement in architecture that views architecture in bits and pieces. It is also called New Modern Architecture. It is a development of post-modern architecture. The movement crystallised in the 1980’s. It was influenced by the literary theory of Deconstruction. It is opposed to the ordered rationality of modernism and post-modernism. Architecture is detached from function and a free play of design is allowed. It is considered a pure art. The resultant form may solve some of the functional problems but that is not the main purpose for it. Part of the Deconstructivist philosophy was therefore to detacharchitecture from function as such and to allow a free play of design. In a sense to make architecture/design a pure art. It might solve some of the functional problems but that was not its main purpose.

Part V: De-constructivism

Characteristics of deconstructivism: • Explodes architectural form into loose collections of related fragments. • Destroys the dominance of the right angle and the cube by using the diagonal line and the `slice’ of space. • Uses ideas and images from Russian Revolutionary architecture and design -Russian Constructivism • Searches for more DYNAMIC spatial possibilities and experiences not explored (or forbidden) by the Modern Movement. • Provokes shock, uncertainty, unease, disquiet, disruption, distortion by challenging familiar ideas about space, order and regularity in the environment. • Rejects the idea of the `perfect form’ for a particular activity and rejects the familiar relationship between certain forms and certain activities.

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Jacques Derrida Philosophy (July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004) In the 1960s the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida who had studied the work of Freud, developed and began to apply this deconstructive technique to the study of philosophical texts. Derrida’s approach was as follows: 1. Whereas Freud had listened to what his patients had to say, Derrida analyzed what other people WROTE, but with the same purpose in mind. That is to reveal the repressed ideas which underlay the apparently smooth, elegant and well-constructed arguments put forward by other philosophers. 2. He wanted to find the inconsistencies in their ideas by analyzing the way they wrote them: again the figures of speech they used and the way they avoided certain topics which might contradict the coherence of the model of experience which they had put forward. 3. Derrida believed that no theory could pretend to be absolutely consistent, logical or present itself as a self-contained and whole system. If it did, it could only do so by hiding or repressing something which did not fit its view of things. The year 1998 marked a turning point in the very essence of architecture, when Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley from the curator’s standpoint presented the exhibition titled “Deconstructivist Architecture”. At the aforementioned event held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York the public had a chance to observe the work of seven architects; Zaha M. Hadid, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, Coop Himelblau, Daniel Libeskind, Frank O. Gehry and Rem Koolhaas. The architectural projects featured at the aforesaid exhibition have been summarized with the generic brand of “Deconstructivist Architecture”.

Part V: De-constructivism

Proponents of this style include: Bernhard Tschumi Zaha Hadid Peter Eisenman Rem Koolhas Daniel Libeskind Frank Gehry Coop Himmelblau

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Photo · image of guggenheim bilbao musem


Brief Information:

Part V: De-constructivism

Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1929. He studied at the Universities of Southern California and Harvard, before he established his first practice, Frank O. Gehry and Associates in 1963. In 1979 this practice was succeeded by the firm Gehry & Krueger Inc. Over the years, Gehry has moved away from a conventional commercial practice to a artistically directed atelier. His deconstructed architectural style began to emerge in the late 1970s when Gehry, directed by a personal vision of architecture, created collage-like compositions out of found materials. Instead of creating buildings, Gehry creates ad-hoc pieces of functional sculpture. Gehry’s architecture has undergone a marked evolution from the plywood and corrugated-metal vernacular of his early works to the distorted but pristine concrete of his later works. However, the works retain a deconstructed aesthetic that fits well with the increasingly disjointed culture to which they belong

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The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Brief Information: Location: Bilbao, Spain Date: 1997 Building Type: Art museum Construction System: Steel frame, titatium sheathing Cli/mate: Temperate Context: Urban Style: Expressionist odern Notes: A free scuplture of curvaceous metal-clad forms.

Part V: De-constructivism

Figure: Bilbao museum Site view

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The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Frank Gehry’s design for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is so completely unhindered by traditional rules that regulate architectural design that the building has a sculptural appearance that is totally independent of any school of architecture from history.

Building information: Unhindered by traditional rules that regulate architectural designs. Sculptural appearance. Built of limestone, glass and titanium.

Gehry designed on a computer the moving and open curvilinear forms that are reminiscent of an opening flower. The small titanium singles that sheath the exterior of the building, shimmering in the sunlight and reflecting the changing colors in the atmosphere, further emphasize the high tech origins of the design.

Exterior has open curvilinear forms that are reminiscent of an opening flower.

Part V: De-constructivism

The interior is as exciting as the exterior, having rooms in various shapes and sizes. The huge atrium has a network of skylights above with catwalks and elevator cages running throughout the space below it.

Eleven thousand square meters of exhibition space are distributed over nineteen galleries. Ten of these galleries have a classic orthogonal plan and can be identified from the exterior by their stone finishes. Nine other irregularly shaped galleries present a remarkable contrast and can be identified from the outside by their swirling forms and titanium cladding. The largest gallery, measuring 30 meters wide and 130 meters long, was used for temporary exhibitions for several years. In 2005, it became the site of the largest sculpture commission in history, Richard Serra’s monumental installation The Matter of Time.

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Commentary Gehry tried to involve the project within a larger urban scheme, revitalizing the waterfront, exploring the places from where better views could be enjoyed and those where the museum should have a more modest scale. Although the metallic form of the exterior looks almost floral from above, from the ground the building more closely resembles a boat, evoking the past industrial life of the port of Bilbao. Constructed of titanium, limestone, and glass, the seemingly random curves of the exterior are designed to catch the light and react to the sun and the weather. Gehry’s use of cutting-edge computer-aided design technology enabled him to translate poetic forms into reality. The resulting architecture is sculptural and expressionistic, with spaces unlike any others for the presentation of art. The museum is seamlessly integrated into the urban context, unfolding its interconnecting shapes of stone, glass, and titanium on a 32,500-square-meter site along the Nervión River in the old industrial heart of the city. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a pinnacle in Gehry’s outstanding architectural career as well as in the field of museum design. It remains unsurpassed in its integration of art and architecture, maintaining an aesthetic and programmatic unity.

Part V: De-constructivism

Bulbous forms flow together in a structure that appears to defy its structural foundations, refuses to harmonize with its surroundings, and does not favor any one particular historical style.

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REFERENCES Stoller, Ezra. The Chapel at Ronchamp. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. Le Corbusier. Towards a New Architecture. New York: Dover Publications, 1985. Chris Abel, Regional Transformations. Architectural Review, November 1986 Hassan Fathy, Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt. Chicago, 1973. Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance”, in The Anti-Aesthetic. Essays on Postmodern Culture (1983) edited by Hal Foster, Bay Press, Seattle.


“Vanna Venturi House By Robert Venturi At Greatbuildings”. GreatBuildings. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

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Contemporary architecture theories  

This report seeks to explore the philosophical and conceptual evolution of its ideas, discusses the relation of theory to the practice of bu...

Contemporary architecture theories  

This report seeks to explore the philosophical and conceptual evolution of its ideas, discusses the relation of theory to the practice of bu...