Category Archives: ARCH 221


This chapter mainly focuses on the time being (after the fall of Constantinople) where feudal system got stronger; the importance between Rome and Christianity. The popes got real power and got control over decisions about the city, which also made them in charge of any urban design and regulations. Architecture was directed by religion, it also reflects the importance and the immense power of religion. They made radical changes; they re-designed the city. They constructed new streets and arranged the old ones accordingly. The importance here is that the socially important concepts are also tangible in the city buildings and the buildings related with the city. The popes are also contributing to the architecture by increasing their respect and reputation within the society. City now had new point of inflluence which controls the growth of the city; basilicas (the religious structures) are the focus points like cores. The pope also made decisions of  economic and architectural manners. He decided on the amount of bugdet which would be spend on architecture.

There is this example of free-standing column in the piazza (which is  framed by two long, curving colonnades) in front of St. Peter Basilica which is mainly positioned at the center of the piazza, emphasized and out in the open. The column is an egyptian obelisk which comes from the Baroque inspiration of the Bernini. It is removed from from its actual place in Egypt, by the order of Pope Sixtus V. The religious and political charaters are meeged into one person which leads the society. The column interconnects the piazza and the basilica but also creates a contrasting effect of the verticality.

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First of all, there are two pioneer movements or events of the Renaissance which had changed the human history. One was the discovery of a new continent: America and the other was rediscovery of the Classical past.

At the time, Spain and Portugal were powerful leading nations of Europe and Europe was now the center of colonialism. Slavery and the hunger of earning more and more gold was the ultimate aim of all European nations. Asia and Africa were exploited due to their fertile lands, slave labor force.

As mentioned above, Spain was eager to become the greatest power in Europe and the richness of America was serving to that aimed goal. The more free and scientific ideas were spread and the blocking of the conventional trade roads pushed Europe to search alternative trade roads. Additionally, the brutal competition of the Europe also led a great discovery: the whole new egzotic and mysterious continent with highest level of civilization.

There was three high civilizations: the Maya; at the Center America and South America, the Aztecs; in the central Mexico and the Incas; along the west coast of South America. The Maya had a long and rich cultural heritage, also had a long settlement history. Stone temples with corbel vaults and stepped pyramids were found as their architectural pieces. Before the Spain conquered these lands, the Maya were monumental cores in the most developed cities, which are formed by temple pyramids, ball courts and palaces. These structures were surrounded by paved public spaces. There was the ‘stelai’ which are dynastic monuments (monuments of rulers and their families) also had a ritual sense. The palaces had no consensus, these structures consisted of long shapes without any windows and with huge platforms used as a storey building. The temple pyramid, which is steep and tall  along the sky, has a narrow way direction only in one axis which led the temple to the summit. (Geometric purpose) Tikal and Palenque had resembled to Egypt and Pergamon according to harmony of height, fat-roofed masses and varying usage of plaza and temple-pyramids. Tikal was one of the biggest cities of Maya in which there were not a line between the fabric and the nature. There were different classes and their housing was also differ. For example, the nobles and merchants had more substantial houses closer to the ceremonial center (religious function).

The Aztec civilization was situated near Lake Texcoco and surrounded by mountains which also provided a cooler climate, especially the capital was landed on a swampy island. There were canals which link the city and its parts.  Aztecs were literary people who were left the written records which enlightened their understanding of their culture. They enlarged their cities by turning the lake mud into arable land which allowed them to use that extra amount of land. The streets were actually canals and they made use of wooden bridges. Thatelolco had one of the biggest marketplace of the world, therefore merchandise and terrace housing was very developed.

Inca was a glorious civilization which had enough technology to cut stone and fix it exactly the proper way they wanted it to be. So, Inca architecture was known for its masonry, shaped stones without mortar. In the reading, Kostof resembled Incas to Romans due to their talent to create a centralized structure  which was quite interesting. Inca arranged houses in a square with a common yard called “cancha”. The normal house of  Inca had a number of rectangular rooms around a court, which was wrapped n an enclosed wall. This approach had shaped the roots of new way of accomplishing religious architecture in America. The Inca cities didn’t have a city wall but it was guarded by a fortress nearby. They also didn’t use grid or any other layout system. There are for example central plazas, but their shape differed. The topography was one of the most influential thing which shaped them, their architecture and their society.

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My architectural element is column and I interpret it some different ways and relate them differently. A column is basically a long post made of steel, stone, etc., that is used as a support in a building. So, in architectural terms it is a load barring vertical element. But we can also interpret it as a 3D object which is stands longitudinally on one of its smallest area. By that interpretation, the megalith or monolith are one of the earliest examples of a column.

The columns are used in the ancient Egypt’s temple as an essential element which provide some kind of a transition area from outside and let the visitors to the inside. (the column halls) The columns were carved, painted to give further meaning; not only use it as a supporting element but also use it to create architecture with a meaning.

The Greek architecture is also made use of columns but actually, there are different approaches to columns due to their orders. Basically, they all constructed to be looked so they were designed to be beautiful. Human proportions are important here to scale a column. The three orders of Greek Architecture are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. ( which also have different column styles) We can say that in their architecture, the perception of beauty is important so, they created different orders to create different and beautiful columns. They were concerned about proportion and beauty in harmony. Greek temples can be considered as a sculptural volumes, so the beauty of this sculpture only can be observed and experienced by the visitors. The aim of their architecture was to have a perfect vision in order to fix optical distortions; they placed columns on an inclined floor toward the inside, they re-arranged the distance between the columns and they constructed wider columns in the middle. Basically, the use of columns are designed to increase the perfection of visibility. In the terms of space, the columns created different fragmentations to serve a purpose. Additionally, the columns created an extra layer outside of a temple, (the locationing of columns in portico) which somehow create a transition area between outside and inside of the temple.

The Roman Architecture is also mostly concerned with beauty when it comes to columns, therefore the orders were decorating the beauty of a column. In roman temples there is one dominant façade faced the street, so the columns differentiated the main façade from the others. As monumental architecture, they decorated columns with relieves where they explained some important events of the civilization. The column conveyed a further meaning, not a spatial meaning, here.

The column is used through examples, as a supporting element (architecturally), as a free-standing object which occasionally convey further meaning, as a transition space which links the inner and the outer spaces. It has different form studies due to differet orders. It create a transparent wall, a fragmentation of a space.


Spiro Kostof: A history of Architecture 


Florence (feudal city) can be considered as “the place” of art and the center of all kind of sophisticated and intellectual events. It resembled to Athens in Antiquity. ıt is a very self-conscious society with the influence of development of Renaisssance. Well, it had accepted slavery as Rome and Athens and made use of the man power of those slaves.

The city center of Florence as design to address every citizen of the city; it was everybody’s city. The design was consisting of a more cumulative and participatory approach. The inspiration is still the glorious Roman Architecture; paved streets (wide and open). There was this sense of visual order (which was perfectly designed and planned in Roman Architecture) which provide more of an enriched experience. The city planning had also a political and public purpose in such design. Urban city required urban adjustments; as paying taxes to support the construction of buildings and walls, to support talented artists’s job of vault constructions or foundation of commission of street clearance and urban renewal projects. They renowed some baptisteries and cathedrals and even made plans to renowe and enlarge the city cathedral. In the early fourthteenth century, there was a harmony between the public buildings, among which there is also a visual connection. The paths were designed to connect and create a more intelligent visual perceptions like a net which ensembles the important structures within the city. Urban city was more specialised according to market activities therefore, there was a need of a bigger and wider market area. It was an ancient forum which was expanded to the nearby streets, an extra market area in the West.

There was 2 main axis which are parallel to each other and also to the cathedral complex, Roman Cardo, administrative structures and other buildings of community. They were grouped to give city a more urban identity. The Europe was sufferning from famine, plague and war  and depopulated unlike Florence. Florence was exceptional  since it imported his food from the greatest and the most fertile lands. It was the center of trade and all the richess of all nations.

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Cluny is the principal abbey of the Cluniac order. The cluny church was built in Romanesque style of architecture. So, we can observe the romanesque architecture charteristics in here; thick walls, round arches, large towers, decorative ornaments, massive quality in larger scale. The architecture of the church was a musician, in fact this really interests me, he could relate nature and architecture mathematically. He based his system of working with ratios and the proportions with the consonances of an octave, fifth and fourth. He found musical harmony to create architecture  which also functions geometrically. Proportional schemes  are functioning at the same time with music; it had a talent to let people think of the divine and sacred. Therefore, we can understand that later on, the geometric proportions had a really important part in medieval architecture. Also in the Romanesque art, especially in sculpture, the importance of the geometrical influence.

The Cluny Order has become independent due to power of the alliance between the pope and feudal lords make the place as a social, political, economical center of the Europe owning to its privileges. Cluny Abbey is the monastery with a giant garden of open spaces which is consisting of a central square of an open gallery. The north side has the administravite placements, the dining and the chapter room. (Large scale spaces)

Chartres Cathedral is considered to be one of the examples of the French gothic architecture; it has as pointed arch, panel vaults and the flying buttress.(to provide stability and immense spans) It is consisting of too many stained-glass windows and horrifying sculptures. The design is specifically inhibit direct sunlight. The light infiltrates through glass and change and reform whole (spiritual) experience of the space. The city of Chartres  is highly considered as the palce of prosperity to its bishop and chapter.Chartres cathedral architecture was mostly about the clerestory, the upper area of the wall supported on the arcades, which took the form of a huge glass casket in which the architecture serves as a frame for the stained glass filling the two rows of enormous windows. The gothic style serves here as a tool of creating immense stuructures which show the power of religin and its opressin amon the citizens.

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The beginning of this chapter stars with the fall of the West (Roman Empire) and the rise of the Charlemagne. (He is the biggest Mediavel King who ruled over today’s France, Italy and Germany.) We can think that the architectural approaches will alter as it happened in change of the existing scale of buildings. The first new buildings they are going to build are religious buildings which also show that the focus points of their cities will change, too. Now, the cathedral complex ,which is also consisting of the episcopal residence, is the main focal point. Then there, is the main church which is positioned parallel to the cathedral and in between there is the baptistery.

The feudal lines are evident not only in the cities but also in the countryside. It was economically organised with the principal institutions. There is ville in which the landlord establishes his residence in the perpetuity. A part of his land is organised and cultivated. The churches are more like a rectangular halls without any apse. Wooden architecture is more expansive so we can see frame construction. This is also valid for the palace. In large scaled buildings, they used timber-rooled structures. It will be wrong to say that stone architecture is now continued. Vaulting is also a used manner. Vernacular architecture continues its existence one way or another. The manufacture of stone capitals carried out as well as the presence of old Roman piles.

Palace Chapel of Charlemagne is acted as if it is an entire complex of imperial palace for the emperor. It has all different rooms for their own functions: council hall, bath, gallery, chapel and so forth. Columns and marbles are brought from the Roman architectural approach. The entire complex is very significant but what is standing out is the chapel. Charlemagne wanted an extravagant design to show his glamorous therefore  we see the construction of big solid bronze doors at the entrance with magnificently decorated  marble walls and floors with mosaics. There is one other important aspect that is has Christian symbolism which show the effect of religion on the architecture.

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Chapter 9: rome: caput mundi

The civilisation of Rome is the pioneer of many great things. There is Roman environmental thinking. Pompeii is a developed Roman town. Rome and Pompeii have adopted an orthogonal city planning. The Romans appreciated the geometrical forms as Greeks. They positioned new towns on the meeting cross points of main north-south axis and east-west axis. This crossed points contained the large complex and public structures as forums, basilicas etc. Forums are where the religious, political, economic, social and administrative events took places. The romans preferred to construct their cities as blocks unlike the linear Greek towns. In big as Pompeii, there is theaters, odeons, stadiums and sanatorium. There is city construction which is crucial due to increase Roman civilizing mission and establishing its visibility. Military is an important aspects of them therefore we can see its traces in architecture. Defense of cities also solved by the advance technique of using giant walls. They arranged the structures to have strategical advantage.

The general approach of their architecture is based on enclosed spaces with straight lines. The reinforced walls helped them to overcome and eliminate the usage of external supports. Additionally, the use of arches, vaults and domes is very common. The arches are semicircular. The most used materials are ,according to the existing surrounding materials, linestone, mortar and concrete. This is the characters of their own vernacular architecture.

Since there is a city organisation, the requirements of infrastructures emerged quickly; water systems and drainage system and transportation system. For example, aqueducts were used to overcome the geographic irregularities. They excavated mountains and traverse the valleys by cannel to being water to the cities. Also linking them become a design problems. The paved roads facilitated also both political and communicational control.

We can see the examples of typology of temple, amphitheatre etc. The religious temples were built on a high platform and it is similar to Greek temples: the main is emphasized due to having stairs and cella opening. There is also theatre in Rome but unlike the greek one located on a natural slope of a mountain, it has a straight ground. But the other aspects are mostly resembles.

Roman domus is the typical roman houses consisting of the evolution and the variation of court. It is the housing of the higher middle class. The level of privacy changes from the entrance to the indoor spaces. Vestibulum leads to atrium which is a greeting space on open to the sky. Then, there are private rooms. Peristylium is the backyard of the house consists of nice enclosed garden.

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Alexander the Great is the king who ruled at Hellenistic Age and expanded the territories of his empire tremendously in the fourth century. The word ‘Hellenic’ means Greek and ‘Hellenistic’ refers to the expansion of Greek culture following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and to the opulent style of art and architecture associated with this. Since they have moved toward new lands, they also met with new cultures. The interactions between cultures also caused some alterations in greek art and architecture. (especially in sculpture) I am amazed by those sculptures;

Hellenistic Sculpture is more related with human body proportions and is emerging the gigantomachy frieze. It is different from the perfectionism of the classical age. The face and body of the sculptures were full-filled with emotions (mostly sad emotions, grief). There is no longer focus on the ideal, there is drama in the sculptures. there are new elements in sculptures which are now taking into consideration; the details like agony, old age, sleep condition and the state of being drunk. We can say that Hellenistic Sculpture now embracing imperfections and aiming at finding its imperfections.

Hellenistic architecture is also altered from classical architecture. Similar to Hellenistic Sculpture, it is based on drama and theatricality of the observer. We can consider Hellenistic Architecture as monumental in order to create this atmosphere of theatricality. We see this monumental temples on big scales. Stoas were used to define public space and were mostly found around a city’s agora, turning the city’s central place for civic, administrative, and market elements into a grand space. The Corinthian order was developed during the Hellenistic period. The columnar style of the order is similar in many ways to the Ionic order.

The acropolis of Pergamon is also famous for its monumental architecture. there are some structures which are positioned in higher places providing a larger perspective and emerging a dramatic public space. We can consider there is hierarchy between the built structures. The Altar of Zeus at Pergamon was a monumental u-shaped Ionic building that stood on a high platform and was accessed by a wide-set of stairs. Besides its dramatic architecture, the Altar is known for its gigantomachy frieze and statues of defeated Gauls.”The statue group of the Dying Gauls depicts a defeated trumpeter and a Gallic chief killing himself and his wife. The figures, while enemies Pergamon, are depicted with incredible pathos and heroics to demonstrate their worthiness as adversaries and empower the Attalid victors.”

The quotation source: Boundless. “Pergamon.” Boundless Art History. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015.

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Chapter 7: polis and akropolis

The akropolis is an ancient citadel which is positioned at the top of rocks and Athens. I wondered about the etymology of the word akropolis and its akron+polis which is edge,extremity+city. Therefore, akropolis is the city at the edge. The hill is appropriated by gods and become “the head of the town”.

The orthogonal planning is a gridal system which coordinates the positioning of the public and residential structures in a harmonious manner. They kind of created a block system of settlements which determines the size and shapes of temples, public buildings as well as residential builndings. It also proportionally controls the narrow lanes and rectangularity of blocks.

The organic planning of the city gives it a more dynamic structure (flexible paths) and hepls it to create a closer interrelation between the structures and the open areas. They had this approach after they had orthogonal planning which also lead them to explore new assumptions; the urban territory can be classified as a rationally geometric conceived at once. Secondly, this rational form had an impact on both public and private builnding which finally is a pioneer to the future development of the city.

The assembly buildings come forward in Greek word as a council chamber. The location of these builndings were not certain at first so they moved the city center; we can understand how much importance they have. The agora has also shifted to a flat open space. The skias are rebuilt: they were the unusual roundly formed builndings which served very special functions. They adjointed the kitchen and bouleuterion, in fact the principal function of these skias are being a dining room. Assembly members communicated there whereas they took their meals and took state decisions.

On the south slope of the Akropolis, they built an auditorium to Dyonisos ( the god of wine) to accomodate a level space created with land fill. The audience was positioned on a circular inclined floor and at the heart there is orchestra which stood a semicircular retaining wall and the little temple of Dionysos. This is a fun part for me to read since it reflects their prosperity level influenced and shaped architecture.

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