POLYGLOT BUILDINGS the notion of character in typographic architecture of the 18th century and the work of Daniel Libeskind By Hugh McEwen
contents preface page 1 character and architecture page 5 typographic architecture : building and character page 13 architectural typography : type and building page 25 architecture as typography : character architecture page 35 conclusion page 53 bibliography page 57 images page 61
preface This paper seeks to provide a full survey of the combination of typography and architecture throughout history and analyse these examples using the critical tool of character. Designs of selected buildings from the 1600s onwards, and books on typography form the basis of the study. The literature used in this paper ranges from the 1500â€™s up to the present day, with an absence of original sources between 1800 and 1900. The initial chapter will set out the discussion of character and its relation to architecture, type and typography. The next chapter will chart the history of architecture that appears to be typography, then typography that seems to be architecture. The final chapter will demonstrate how these two strands can be found in contemporary examples of the work of Daniel Libeskind.
character and architecture
character and architecture Character, from the Greek kharakter meaning ‘to engrave’ , has always been used to discuss the shape and meaning of drawn languages. Its first allegorical application was during the 17th century, when it was applied to narrative arts in order to differentiate the sort of protagonist. Architectural historian Adrian Forty has argued that the notion of character was first applied to architecture during the 18th century 2. According to Forty, Boffrand (1667-1754) was the first to write about character in architecture, using it to critique ways in which an impression might be made upon the occupant of a space 3 . Through further writings it was reified into two aspects “the expression of the building’s particular purpose, and the evocation of specific moods” 4. The examination of a building’s form to ascertain both its functional efficiency and its ability to convey meaning to users was also discussed regarding the notion of type by Forty. 1
Type however refers to parts of an architectural whole – for example an order of column as part of a building, a church as part of a city – while character refers to individual buildings as a whole. Type and typography have the same etymology, from the Greek typos, meaning figure or impression 5. In both architecture and typography, type denotes a cataloguing system by which elements that have different forms or functions can be differentiated 6. Within this paper I will use both character and type in their architectural senses, and use other words with regards to typography. Through their meaning and function the type of building or the typeface of font will leave different impressions on the user. This interweaving of concepts in both disciplines has led to them being inextricably linked since the very first printed treatises that sought to define what architecture should look like and what books on architecture should look like.
J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner (eds), Oxford English Dictionary: second edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), vol 3, p 32 2 Adrian Forty, Words and buildings : a vocabulary of modern architecture (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000), p 120 3 Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis (eds), The emergence of modern architecture : a documentary history from 1000 to 1810 (London: Routledge, 2004), p 316 4 Adrian Forty, Words and buildings, p 125 5 J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner (eds), Oxford English Dictionary, vol 18, p 786 6 Adrian Forty, Words and buildings, p 304
Typography is the art of printing 7 and it has affected all read discourse for the last 500 years. The characteristics of function and meaning can be analysed in typefaces. Function relates to the ‘voice’ a font gives to text. An anecdote from David Carson seems succinct. When he received a trite, badly written article for the magazine he was editing, he simply set it in the illegible font Zapf Dingbat. As he states “Don’t confuse legibility with communication.”8 Meaning can therefore be examined separately as how intelligible a typeface makes a text. The readability of fonts and their setting is directly quantifiable 9 as long as the letters conform to their “essential form” as Edward Johnston wrote 10.
These initial examples demonstrate how far back the discussion of architecture and character reaches, and some key points. Running throughout are questions of character and its two components – how well a building serves its function and whether it is able to convey meaning. These will be used to critique the appearance during the same historical period of designs that sought to combine architecture and typography in a characterful manner.
J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner (eds), Oxford English Dictionary, vol 18, p 792 8 57min, Helvetica (Swiss Dots, Gary Hustwit, 2007) 9 Donald G. Paterson and Miles A. Tinker, How to Make Type Readable : A manual for Typographers, Printers and Advertisers (Harper and Brothers: New York, 1940) 10 Edward Johnston, Writing & Illuminating & Lettering (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1948)
typographic architecture: building and character
typographic architecture: building and character ”Of all arts, architecture is nearest akin to typography” 11 Helmut Presser
The surveyor John Thorpe (1564/5 – 1655) 12 designed several country houses, and a folio of his drawings is held by the Sir John Soane’s Museum, but it is not known whether any of his designs were built. This design stands out from the rest, since in plan it spells out his initials - a Roman “I” and “T” linked by a covered passageway. This is the first example of a building that has a typographic quality, however it lacks a certain degree of character. The meaning of the lettering is intelligible, though somewhat onanistic, however the function of the building is hampered by its narrow plan, since “he allots most ample space for halls” 13 which take up much of the available floor area. The shape of the font adds nothing to the building, either by voice or through architectural practicality.
Helmut Presser was the director of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz from 1963 â€“ 77 John R. Biggs, Basic typography (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), p 7 12 H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol 54, p 668 13 Horace Walpole, The Book of Architecture of John thorpe in Sir John soaneâ€™s Museum, Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, Berthold L. Wolpe (ed), trans. Ella M. Hatt (London: Merrion Press, 1972), p 15
When the French King Louis XIV ascended the throne in 1661, the architect Thomas Gobert (1625-90) 14 dedicated a set of designs for churches to his monarch 15. Illustrated within were ”12 drawings of very different churches or chapels, whose plans are the 12 letters which compose the name of King Louis le Grand.” 16 Each letter has been mirrored across an imagined axis to produce a symmetrical building in elevation. Ponten comments “What is offered is a rigorous and classic architecture, it is only in the plan that the creative passion of the artist rages.” 17 This example was relatively unknown 18, and Gobert was presumably unaware of Thorpe’s work. The spelling out of the nom de plume of Louis XIV has several problems if we are to critique it in terms of character. The abolition of asymmetry in the letters means that the essential forms of the letters are only vaguely readable. Even if the letters themselves were intelligible, the name they spelt is not, since the chapels were not intended to be built next to one another. This said, the functional aspects of the buildings are well addressed. The more humanistic fonts are not absolute, and could have many iterations, as Gobert says of S: ”One could draw three or four ideas for very beautiful and baroque churches or chapels.” 19 Indeed there are two different plans for the letter L within the folio. There is also the suggestion that these forms could be used to solve awkward spatial issues within a site. As Gobert writes of his design for ‘A’ ”If you happen to find a place in a corner for a chapel, one could use this drawing.” 20
Ulrich Conrads and Hans G. Sperlich, The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times (New York: Praeger, 1962) p 173 15 Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, Heinz Rosemann and Hedwig Schmelz (eds) (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt: Stuttgart, 1925), p 60 16 “12 Zeichnungen sehr verschiedener Kirchen oder Kapellen, deren Plane die 12 Buchstaben sind, welche zusammensetzen den Namen des Königs Louis le Grand.“ Thomas Gobert, Traitté d’Architecture dedié à Louix XIV, Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 60 17 “Das Gebotene ist strenge und klassische Architektur, nur in den Grundrissen tobt sich die Erfindunglust des künstlers aus.“ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 61 18 Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 60 19 “Man konnte drei oder vier Ideen für sehr schone und gossartige Kirchen oder Kapellen darus ziehen“ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 61 20 “Wenn man zufällig einen Platz in einem Winkel für eine Kapelle findet, konnte man sich dieser Zeichnung bedienen“ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 61
Anton (1723 – 1801) 21, one of the Glonner family of Stuttgart architects, produced a drawing in 1774 22 depicting a Jesuit college. Unfortunately it seems that only this single drawing has survived, and very little writing exists on it, or Anton. This makes it a poor example, especially as the elevation cannot be seen and the drawing itself is not as detailed as the other projects in this chapter.
Despite this, the building’s function seems to have been carefully considered. “In the I-building reside three college halls … In the stems of the H are the dining rooms and kitchens, contained in its bar is a vestry for a large priesthood,” 23
The letters are slightly skewed, almost cursive, which harks back to Gobert’s sculptural chapels. These softer fonts seem appropriate for religious buildings and the more sounded spaces within. In addition, there is no doubt that the plan conveys its symbolic nature. It represents both the christogram of the Jesuit order “I.H.S. with a cross atop the H” 24 and, within, the initials of the Greek name of Christ.
Parish Church of St. James in Vierkirchen (12/02/10), www. kirchenundkapellen.de 22 Ulrich Conrads, Fantastic architecture, trans. Christine C. Collins and George R. Collins (eds) (Architectural Press, 1963), p 173 23 “Im I-Bau liegen drei Kollegiensäle ... Das H wird in den Stäben Speisesäle und Kuchen, im Querstricht die Sakristeien für eine große Priesterschaft enthalten,“ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 63 24 “I.H.S. und ein Kreuz auf dem H“ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 63
In 1775 Johann Steingruber (1702 – 87) 25 from Ansbach published the final instalment of his Architectonisches Alphabet, a set of prints that depict a full alphabet of typographic buildings “The pictures show sizable, spacious and beautiful palaces of the 18th century”26 . It seems that, like Gobert and Glonner, Steingruber was ignorant to previous explorations of typographic architecture. Nevertheless he set out similar arguments for the validity of his designs in terms of character. He argued that they could contain meaning. ”It should not be unseemly and impossible in laying out a building belonging to a great lord for the name of the patron to be brought into the ground plan.” 27 Yet he thought they should be epitomes of function. He designed ingenious heating plans, carefully detailed multiple circulation routes and meticulously specified the function of each room. Thus “Wherever Steingruber gives a second version of a letter, it is for a good practical reason” 28 It is clear that these examples are not as intelligible as their designers saw them, since they would be perceived in elevation, but readable in plan. Although, as can be seen, the inherent shape of the buildings would create a different impression upon the occupant. This is perhaps also apparent from the relative simplicity of what they intend to communicate - the initials of a name. However, Steingruber acknowledged this, and suggested ways to make the inherent meaning behind the structures more apparent. ”The layout needs to be viewed from a height or from the top of a tower if the letter is to be clearly recognizable.” 29
Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, Berthold L. Wolpe (ed), trans. Ella M. Hatt (London: Merrion Press, 1972), P 11 26 â€œDie Bilder zeigen ansehnliche, geraumige und auch prachtvolle furstenschlosser des 18 Jahrhundertsâ€œ Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 62 27 Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 12 28 Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 14 29 Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 70
Each architect was seemingly oblivious of the work that had been done before them, nevertheless each project chronologically demonstrates a better correlation with the notions of character than the last. Perhaps this was due to the wider influence of the concept of character as it became more developed, or because of the techniques it promoted in architecture became better understood. Typography first found its way directly into building in 1529 when the Parisian printer Geoffroy Tory (c.1480 – c.1533)30 published his Champ Fleury, a book detailing the setting out of lettering which also saw fit to draw parallels between font and building. ”If we demand ground plans in our said Attic letters, we shall find enough for galleries, for halls and for theatres.” 31 Here, however the process of transferring typography into the realm of architecture completely denuded it of any meaning. It is not a font, it is a shape that has been constructed in plan in the same way as a letter. Tory discusses the shape’s benefits in much the same way that Steven Holl would later do in his pamphlet architecture 32. For this reason it cannot be seen as a genius loci for typographic architecture, but Tory’s work is important in the next chapter.
Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, trans. George B. Ives (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1927) 31 Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, p 51 32 Steven Holl, The Alphabetical City : pamphlet architecture #5, Clare Jacobsen (ed), Pamphlet architecture 1-10 (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998)
architectural typography: type and building
architectural typography: type and building ”No art is closer to architecture than typography” 33 Henri Focillon Geoffroy Tory proposed that typefaces could be used as types within architecture, having both a function and a meaning. His attempt at illustrating this is a crude section through a “house of letters”. ”A represents the gable end of a house, inasmuch as it is shaped like a gable. The aspirate H represents the body of the house, . . The K, because of its joint, signifies stairs to ascend in a straight line to the first floor, & thence to ascend, also in a straight line, to another floor. The ancients, for the most part, built their stairways only in a straight line, as one can still see in many places, and as I have observed in Rome and throughout Italy” 34 Typography has a significant history of using architecture to both form and support its modes of practice. Tory sought to reinforce his manual on lettering by making analogies between his designs of letters and those of types within a building. He based this method of attribution on the process begun in the Renaissance of analysing antiquity.
Henri Focillon (1881-1943) was a French art historian John R. Biggs, Basic typography, p 53 34 Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, p 49
This translation of architecture into typography was at the heart of the creation of Roman fonts, where letters that had been copied from buildings in Rome, particularly Trajan’s Column, were turned into typefaces 35. More recently, Gotham was created from building signage in New York – specifically the Port Authority Bus Terminal – and then used on the cornerstone for New York’s 1 Freedom Tower, which is ironically owned by the Port Authority 36 . Slightly later than Tory, and in England, the printer Joseph Moxon (1627 – 1691) 37 proposed that the critical backgrounds of typography and architecture were similar by likening the method by which Vitruvius classified types of columns to his own method of classifying the Roman, Italic and English fonts. “ [I] have elected them for a Patern in Romans and Italicks, and have given you those Proportions and Dimensions they observed. Even as Vitruvius did by his Columns; for he finding, that among the many sorts of Columns that were standing in his time, Five onely were most acceptable, viz. the Tuscan, Dorick, Ionick, Corinthian, and Composite, surveyed their exact Dimensions, and called that Survey, The Rules of the Five Orders of Architecture : which Rules are followed to this day;” 38 He went on to justify this typological classification as an aesthetic and functional necessity. ”But since we all strive to make Columns and other Ornaments in Architecture by Rules, because they should be strong, beautiful, and graceful to the Eye, `tis surely necessary that the Inscriptions (which are commonly placed in the architrave or some other eminent place) should be likewise regular and beautiful, lest they disgrace both Builder and Building too.” 39
Nicolete Gray, Lettering on Buildings (London: Architectural Press 1960), p 14 36 David Dunlap, A 9/11 Cornerstone, Chiseled With a New York Accent, The New York Times (8/07/04), www.nytimes.com 37 H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol 39, p 602 38 Joseph Moxon, Regulo trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum : or, the rules of the three orders of print letters, viz. the roman, italick, English, capitals and small. Shewing how they are compounded of geometrick figures, and mostly made by rule and compass. Useful for writing masters, painters, carvers, masons and others that are lovers of curiosity (London: 1676), p 3 39 Joseph Moxon, Regulo trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum, p 4
A directly architectural example of architectural types used in the manner of a typeface rcan be found in the work of the French architectural tutor Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand (1760 – 1834) 40. He attempted to form standardised layouts that could then be combined to form new structures, or deconstruct and analyse existing buildings 41. The Italian painter Antonio Basoli (1774 – 1848) went further than Tory in his allegory and in 1839 presented his Alfabeto Pittorico42. This was a series of twenty five lithographs, each depicting a different architectural type with an elevation in the form of a Roman capital letter. These are each surrounded by a collection of objects whose names begin with the letter illustrated. “We find the acute-angled A, then, in an Arabian orangery (aranciera), two ancient ploughs (aratri antichi) adorning the feet of the initial, atop which is an eagle (aquila). The E adjoins an exedra in a garden near ancient Herculaneum (Ercolano), whose vegetation supposedly includes ivy (edera), mustard (eruca), (h)ellebore, endives, spurge (euforbio), heather (erica), and wild radish (erisimo).” 43 Typography as a type in architecture, especially in elevation, improves the readability of meaning within a building. While in the first chapter architects sought to address the practicality of shape making, Basoli provides the most complete example of a more complex laguage that was suggested by Tory and Moxon. This is not to say that these examples are better at conveying the character of a building, but they overcome some of the previous shortcomings of typographic architecture. We will see the resolution of these problems in the next chapter.
Werner Szambien, Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, 1760 – 1834 : De l’imitation a la norme (Paris: Picard, 1984) 41 Adrian Forty, Words and buildings, p 304 42 Fabia Farneti and Eleonora Frattarolo (eds), Antonio Basoli, 17741848 : Ornatista, Scenografo, Pittore di paesaggio : II viaggiatore che resta a casa (Bologna: Minerva, 2008) P 90 43 Basoli’s Alphabet (29/09/06), www.spamula.net
architecture as typography: character architecture
architecture as typography: character architecture ”For me, a building is a medium to tell a story.” 44 Daniel Libeskind “Daniel Libeskind is a great storyteller.” 45 Henrik Moller
Daniel Libeskind (1946), a Polish born American 46 , has spent his architectural career designing buildings that communicate. His work is steeped in symbolism, memory and a re-awakening of history. His Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen both deal with typography on an architectural scale, creating a more contemporary, yet historically founded, approach to text and building.
Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint : Daniel Libeskind (Basel: BirkhĂ¤user, 2008), p 10 45 Henrik S. Moller, A Ray of Light in the Darkness : An Encounter with Daniel Libeskindâ€™s Architecture, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum : Daniel Libeskind, trans Gaye Kynoch (Copenhagen: Danish Jewish Museum, 2004), p 52 46 Daniel Libeskind, Breaking ground : adventures in life and architecture (London: John Murray, 2004)
In the preceding two chapters I have discussed Roman letters and their relation to architecture However the architecture iN Libeskind’s two museums only relates to Hebrew typefaces. The use of a different language perhaps presents difficulties. But in fact, the most complete resolution of meaning and function in typography comes from an example written in Hebrew. Walter Benjamin and subsequently Andrew Benjamin comment on the painting by Rembrandt of Belshazzar’s Feast. Here, out of thin air, a disembodied hand writes in golden Hebrew lettering. The court of Belshazzar, could not decipher the meaning of these letters (indeed Rembrandt actually misspells one of the words and writes them top to bottom instead of right to left 47 ) until later when Daniel tells the king that they mean his impending death and the end of his lineage. The evening that he is told of their meaning, King Belshazzar is killed. As Andrew Benjamin states: ”The words written by the divine hand are there to be read. They warn of an impending disaster. Neither standing for it nor symbolizing it. They are that warning.” 48 The words are both the warning and the act of warning. Both the meaning and the function. The form of the letters fulfils both purposes. This full resolution of both function and meaning – the two aspects of character – can be found in the work of Libeskind.
Belshazzarâ€™s Feast, www.nationalgallery.org.uk Andrew Benjamin, Framing Pictures, Transcending Marks : Walter Benjaminâ€™s On Paintings, Signs and Marks, Andrew Benjamin and Charles Rice (eds), Walter Benjamin and the Architecture of Modernity (Melbourne: Re:press, 2009) p 139
The Danish Jewish Museum, which opened in 2004, “was inspired by the mass rescue of roughly eight thousand Jews in October 1943 by their compatriots. The Hebrew word Mitzvah – an obligation or good deed – is symbolized in the form and structure of the museum.” 49. Mitzvah appears in Hebrew as מצוה, and so “The Hebrew letters denoting Mitzvah have been interlaced to form the pattern of the corridors within which the guest moves through the exhibition.” 50 The extension of the building’s overarching concept into its plan engages with the history of meaning being inscribed into a building. Indeed “The Hebrew word Mitzvah is literally stamped in the building” 51 The four letters also have four corresponding planes that form the sloping floors - “Exodus, Wilderness, the giving of the Law and the Promised Land” 52 - and four displays in the vitrines – Arrivals, Standpoints, Traditions and Promised Lands 53. Thus the typography both forms the spaces, and orientates the museum’s typology. Both the Danish and the Berlin Jewish Museum use their respective building’s plan as their logo, suggesting a reversing of Glonner’s use of a symbol as a plan. Libeskind also indicates the way in which the meaning of the architecture is fully readable, paralleling Steingruber’s acknowledgement that his plans could only be read from a nearby hill. “The entire space of the exhibition is penetrated by an oblique slope that opens a fifth virtual plane forming surface and a horizon that integrates all the surrounding exhibitions. The surface is used in the exhibition as tables, plinths and vitrines. … This fifth plane of space acts as a datum orienting the visitors and giving each child and person a scale through which the museum as text becomes legible.” 54
Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 68 Mitzvah, www.jemus.dk 51 Logo, www.jemus.dk 52 Daniel Libeskind, Mitzvah â€“ The Danish Jewish Museum, Copenhagen, (Berlin: Studio Daniel Libeskind, 2001), p 1 53 Arne Kvorning, A Spatial Challenge : Design of the Opening Exhibition, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum, p 90 54 Daniel Libeskind, Mitzvah, p 2 50
The viewing plane therefore also provides the functional display space for the museum. These vitrines have been informed by both the necessity of understanding the meaning in plan, and another symbolic parameter. The Jewish tradition of Gematria is the process by which meaning can be extracted from words through numeric values ascribed to the letters that make them up. Through this method, certain positive words give numbers which are lucky in Jewish culture. The most usual one is the number 18 55, which is obtained from Chai ( )חיmeaning ‘life’, since the Yud ( )יis the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Chet ( )חis the eighth. It is no coincidence then, that “Daniel Libeskind’s design for the museum includes 18 fixed vitrines.” 56 Function is still ascribed a symbolic meaning. In elevation the building is more instantly intelligible, but still requires explanation. It is “in many ways a space in which the content was already built-in.” 57 . Indeed the fixings for all of the wooden panels are Torx six lobe internal screws, which happen to have a head with a six pointed star indented into it.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Symbolism in the Building, (San Fransisco: The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 2009), p 1 56 Janne Laursen, The Danish Jewish Museum and Daniel Libeskind, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum, p 16 57 Arne Kvorning, A Spatial Challenge : Design of the Opening Exhibition, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum, p 91
Completed in 2008, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco also uses typography as a tool to create character. “Within the walls of a former power substation, behind a church, and under a hotel, the museum weaves a new focus for the neighbourhood. The form of the structure is composed of two letters, the Yud and the Chet, which make up Chai” 58 As has already been discussed, this is a significant word in Jewish culture. The Yud form is the smaller form, the Chet is the longer block with two tails. “Libeskind was inspired by the Hebrew phrase “L’Chaim” (To Life), because of its connection to the role the substation played in restoring energy to the city after the 1906 earthquake and the Museum’s mission to be a lively center for engaging audiences with Jewish culture.” 59 This is not a glib appropriation of a common word. The fact that this is not a museum in any way related to the Shoa means that it can have an inherently positive meaning. The Berlin Jewish Museum had to deal with the impossibility of representing the Shoa, and used voids as its main structuring tectonic 60. The two museums I have discussed here are as examples of enactioned hope. On a functional level this name is also appropriate, since the museum does not have a permanent collection and so its programme is ever changing and lively.
Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 317 The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Symbolism in the Building, p 1 60 Andrew Benjamin, Present Hope : Philosophy, Architecture, Judaism (London: Routledge, 1997) 59
The building’s internal elevations again have typographic elements, both meaningful and functional. The windows in the raised part of the structure are informed by Gematria, since “The upper level of the Yud form has thirty-six diamond shaped windows” 61 which is “double chai” 62. While inside the Chet form is the PaRDeS wall made of backlit forms that spell the Hebrew word Pardes ( )פרדסand light the long gallery. “PaRDeS, which means orchard in Hebrew, is also an acronym where the letters (pey, resh, dalet, samech) each stand for a layer of meaning, referring to the Kabbalistic practice of discovering four distinct levels of meaning within each text: literal, allegorical, personal, and mystical.” 63
Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 322 The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Symbolism in the Building, p 1 63 The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Symbolism in the Building, p 2
In each building a word has been used to both encapsulate the specific outlook of the structure, and their spaces have been formed to enable the character of the building to be expressed and utilised. The argument presented in the 18th century that typographic architecture can make use of awkward sites, is taken up by Libeskind, since both museums were designed to fit around existing structures. The letterforms provide an architectural language to form elements distinct from the old structure, but at the same time fit within its spatial confines. The technique of designing multiple possible configurations of the letters to provide a more functional space, used by both Steingruber and Gobert, is also worked through by Libeskind, especially apparent in the many models for the Danish Jewish Museum. There are two layers to his use of text as a symbol throughout his buildings, they are in the implicit – the history of which is set out in the first section – and the explicit – as set out in the second section. These do not have to be read as one, but a full understanding of a building will naturally take them in. ”There is an enormous accumulation of intellect in the various meanings of the building. They can be taken into account - little by little - or left unheeded, according to temperament. It is not necessary to understand Freemasonry to appreciate Mozart’s Magic Flute.” 64 However the function of the spaces is affected by their meaning and vice versa, in a holistic interpretation of character.
Enrik S. Moller, A Ray of Light in the Darkness : An Encounter with Daniel Libeskindâ€™s Architecture, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum, p 57
conclusion Typographic architecture is neither an alphabetic architecture (as discussed in Holl’s Pamphlet Architecture), or an architecture of signs (as discussed in Venturi and Scott Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas). It is an honest combination of both the form and the meaning of typography into an architectural expression. The term character espouses a critical examination of function and meaning and its history runs parallel to the development of typographic architecture. Typographic architecture rose to prominence in the 18th, and it was both the careful definition of form and the intrinsic meaning of letters that architects sought to harness. Designs by Thorpe, Gobert and Glonner began to tackle the challenges thrown up by this theoretical choice. The tactic of using typography in architecture found its most defined resolution in Steingruber’s Architectonisches Alphabet which covered the same ground as his predecessors, but rounded out the discussion and built on it. Architecture has, vice versa, filtered into typography through the notion of type. Tory and Moxon identified type in architecture with typefaces in typography, seeking to both support their arguments and provide new pathways of investigation. These were followed by Basoli who, much like Steingruber, produced an oeuvre of architectural typography. Both techniques are apparent in two contemporary buildings by Daniel Libeskind – The Contemporary Jewish Museum and The Danish Jewish Museum. These use plans and elevations informed by the typeface of printed letters to create functional and allegorical aspects. Typography has been used to enliven arguments in architecture, while architecture has been used to support discourses on typography. The full combination of the two professions has only been resolved recently, and only in one way. The polygamous future of this architecture must reach beyond its chequered history, strewn, as it is, with palaces for princes, kings and God.
bibliography texts cited Andrew Benjamin, Framing Pictures, Transcending Marks : Walter Benjaminâ€™s On Paintings, Signs and Marks, Andrew Benjamin and Charles Rice (eds), Walter Benjamin and the Architecture of Modernity (Melbourne: Re:press, 2009) pp 129 - 42 Andrew Benjamin, Present Hope : Philosophy, Architecture, Judaism (London: Routledge, 1997) John R. Biggs, Basic typography (London: Faber and Faber, 1973) Ulrich Conrads and Hans G. Sperlich, Fantastic architecture, trans. Christine C. Collins and George R. Collins (eds) (London: Architectural Press, 1963) Ulrich Conrads and Hans G. Sperlich, The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times, trans. Christine C. Collins and George R. Collins (eds) (New York: Praeger, 1962) The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Symbolism in the Building, (San Fransisco: The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 2009) http://www.thecjm.org/images/gallery/albums/text_pages/exhibition_ press_kits/newbuilding/4_Symbolism_in_Building.pdf Fabia Farneti and Eleonora Frattarolo (eds), Antonio Basoli, 1774-1848
: Ornatista, Scenografo, Pittore di paesaggio : II viaggiatore che resta a casa (Bologna: Minerva, 2008) Adrian Forty, Words and buildings : a vocabulary of modern architecture (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000) Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint : Daniel Libeskind (Basel: BirkhĂ¤user, 2008) Nicolete Gray, Lettering on Buildings (London: Architectural Press 1960)
bibliography Steven Holl, The Alphabetical City : pamphlet architecture #5, Clare Jacobsen (ed), Pamphlet architecture 1-10 (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998) n.a. Edward Johnston, Writing & Illuminating & Lettering (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1948) Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis (eds), The emergence of modern architecture : a documentary history from 1000 to 1810 (London: Routledge, 2004) Daniel Libeskind, Breaking ground : adventures in life and architecture (London: John Murray, 2004) Daniel Libeskind, Mitzvah â€“ The Danish Jewish Museum, Copenhagen (Berlin: Studio Daniel Libeskind, 2001) http://www.danskjoediskmuseum.dk/dokument/mitzvah_english.pdf H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum : Daniel Libeskind, trans Gaye Kynoch (Copenhagen: Danish Jewish Museum, 2004) Joseph Moxon, Regulo trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum :
or, the rules of the three orders of print letters, viz. the roman, italick, English, capitals and small. Shewing how they are compounded of geometrick figures, and mostly made by rule and compass. Useful for writing masters, painters, carvers, masons and others that are lovers of curiosity (London: 1676) Donald G. Paterson and Miles A. Tinker, How to Make Type Readable : A manual for Typographers, Printers and Advertisers (Harper and Brothers: New York, 1940)
bibliography S. Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, Heinz Rosemann and Hedwig Schmelz (eds) (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt: Stuttgart, 1925) All translations of this text are by the author, and in all cases the original text has been included. Werner Szambien, Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, 1760 – 1834 : De l’imitation a la norme (Paris: Picard, 1984) J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner (eds), Oxford English Dictionary: second edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989) Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, Berthold L. Wolpe (ed), trans. Ella M. Hatt (London: Merrion Press, 1972) Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, trans. George B. Ives (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1927) texts consulted Iain Borden and Katerina Rüedi Ray, The dissertation : an architecture student’s handbook (Oxford : Architectural, 2005) Mario Carpo, Architecture in the age of printing : orality, writing,
typography, and printed images in the history of architectural theory, trans. Sarah Benson (London : MIT Press, 2001) The Danish Jewish Museum, Space and Spaciousness: An exhibition about Jews in Denmark (Copenhagen: The Danish Jewish Museum, 2005) J. Abbott Miller, Dimensional Typography : Case Studies on the shape of letter in Virtual Environments (New York: Princeton Architectural Press,1996)
bibliography films cited
Helvetica (Swiss Dots, Gary Hustwit, 2007) websites cited Belshazzar’s Feast http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/ serverphp?show=conObject.84 Accessed 22/04/10 Basoli’s Alphabet (29/09/06) http://www.spamula.net/blog/2006/09/basolis_alphabet_1.html Accessed 22/04/10 David Dunlap, A 9/11 Cornerstone, Chiseled With a New York Accent, The New York Times (8/07/04) http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/08/nyregion/08blocks.html?ex=12326 00400&en=bfb9c6119290e233&ei=5070 Accessed 22/04/10 Logo http://www.jewmus.dk/logo.asp Accessed 22/10/04 Mitzvah http://www.jewmus.dk/mitzvah.asp Accessed 22/04/10 Parish Church of St. James in Vierkirchen (12/02/10) http://www.kirchenundkapellen.de/kirchenpz/vierkirchen.php Accessed 22/04/10
Images Johann Steingruber’s plan of “CF” palace, S. Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 61 P 8 Edward Johnston’s Essential Forms of the letter B Edward Johnston, Writing & Illuminating & Lettering http://www.papress.com/thinkingwithtype/teachers/type_lecture/lecture_ images/JohnstonDiagram.gif P 11 Johann Steingruber’s plan of “A” palace, second version Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 31 P12 Thomas Gobert’s elevation and plan of “L“ and “O” S. Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 62 Page 14 John Thorpe’s plan and elevation for his country House, Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 107 and 104 respectively Page 16 Thomas Gobert’s plan of “LOUIS LE GRAND” S. Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 61 Page 18 Anton Glonner‘s plan of a Jesuit college S. Josef Ponten, Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde, p 69 AnonMoos’ IHS logo http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Ihs-logo. svg/2000px-Ihs-logo.svg.png Page 20 Johann Steingruber’s elevation and plan of “S” palace Johann D. Steingruber, Architectural alphabet, p 69 page 22 Geofroy Tory’s plan of “I” house, Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, p 51 Page 26 Geofroy Tory’s section, Geofroy Tory, Champ Fleury, p 50 page 27 and 28 Antoni Basoli’s “A”, “E”, “I” and ”O” Antoni Basoli, Alphabeto Pittorico http://www.spamula.net/blog/2006/09/basolis_alphabet_1.html page 32 Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand’s types of Roman temples Werner Szambien, Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, p 220
images Page 38 Rebrandt van Rijn’s Belshazzar’s Feast, 1636-8, the National Gallery London http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/rembrandt/1630/belshazzar.jpg Detail from http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/server.php?show=conObject.84 Page 40 Daniel Libeskind’s sketch for the Danish Jewish Museum, Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 67 Studio Libeskind’s plan of the Danish Jewish Museum http://djmuseum.inforce.dk/pic/download/SDL_plan.jpg Page 42 The Danish Jewish Museum’s plan of the museum, Henrik S. Moller (ed), The Danish Jewish Museum, p 90 Studio Libeskind’s elevations of the Danish Jewish Museum http://djmuseum.inforce.dk/pic/download/SDL_elevation.jpg Page 43 Mark Darley’s photo of the exterior of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 316 Page 44 Bitter + Bredt’s photo of the interior of the Danish Jewish Museum, Paul Goldberger, Counterpoint, p 73 Page 46 Daniel Libeskind’s sketch for the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Daniel Libeskind, Daniel Libeskind: Architect’s statement (2007) http://www.thecjm.org/images/gallery/albums/text_pages/exhibition_press_ kits/newbuilding/3_Architect_Statement.pdf Studio Libeskind’s ground plan of the Contemporary Jewish Museum http://www.archdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/7-first-floor-plan-lg.jpg page 48 Telstar Logistics’ photo of windows in the Yud form http://www.flickr.com/photos/telstar/2552283133/ Studio Libeskind’s section of the Contemporary Jewish Museum http://www.archdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/3-longitudinal-sectionlg.jpg page 50 Kumasawa’s photo of the Pardes wall http://www.flickr.com/photos/kumasawa/2583651319/in/photostream Studio Libeskind’s model of the Danish Jewish Museum http://djmuseum.inforce.dk/pic/download/DJM1_big.jpg
This paper was set in 12pt Gill Sans Light and Light Italic. The title is in 47pt Gotham Bold with 11pt Gotham Thin sub titles. Chapter titles are 22pt Gotham Thin. Hebrew has been set in 12pt Ezra Sil. The cover is printed with 24pt Gotham Bold.
A fourth year survey of the combination of typography and architecture throughout history, using character as a critical tool for analysis o...
Published on Jan 12, 2012
A fourth year survey of the combination of typography and architecture throughout history, using character as a critical tool for analysis o...