- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Everything you always wanted to know about architecture is all right here in The Annotated Arch, which covers architectural wonders from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Presented in a reader-friendly format, this new book enlightens, entertains, and informs with its lively look at architecture.
What's the difference between Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic? Within the 192 illustrated pages of The Annotated Arch, readers will learn all about these distinctive styles--and more. From engineering breakthroughs to cultural history, from biographical anecdotes to analyses of corresponding and clashing styles The Annotated Arch covers all the architectural bases. The book breaks new ground with excerpts from interviews conducted by the author with leading contemporary architects.
This new Annotated book follows Carol Strickland's first volume on art history, The Annotated Mona Lisa. Peppered with sidebars, The Annotated Arch will appeal to anyone who loves architecture or who simply wants to learn more about it in a painless, enjoyable way. It's a great, educational read.
ROCK OF AGES
As soon as human beings emerged from caves to live in huts, two basic drives—aggression and religion—dictated the forms of the first permanent architecture.
The ancient city of Jericho (in modern Jordan) was built 9,300 years ago surrounded by a wall of rough stone blocks to repel marauding enemies. Remnants of the wall, 14 feet high and 10 feet thick, still stand. Its most impressive feature was a tower more than 25 feet tall, presumably to spot approaching invaders. These defensive fortifications tell us that, from the end of the last Ice Age, large-scale warfare was a fact of human existence.
Judging from other early relics, the flip side of the coin of human nature was spirituality. Neolithic monuments created 6,500 years ago had nothing to do with a practical matter like survival. The massive stone formations scattered across western Europe, from Spain to Scandinavia, were erected with incredible effort to meet emotional and spiritual needs.
STONEHENGE: IF STONES COULD TALK. Built over the course of a thousand years, possibly from as early as 3000 B.C.E., Stonehenge sprang from both rational and irrational concepts. The stones' site is linked to precise astronomical observation. Arranged in concentric circles around an tuner horseshoe shape, on the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year), the sun rises exactly over the apex of the Heel Stone. One theory considers the group a giant stone computer—about as hard as hardware can get—to predict solar andlunareclipses.
More than a passive sundial, however, Stonehenge was almost certainly used for ritual religious practices. At its center is an altar, with the tallest stone (28 feet high) behind it.
More than 900 stone circles, called cromlechs, have been identified across the British Isles, but Stonehenge's construction is the most sophisticated. In its earliest incarnation, workers, using bone antlers, dug a circular trench (or henge) in the white chalk bedrock. A break in the circle faces a tall sandstone pillar, called the Heel Stone, outside the ring. In the center of the ditch, a double ring of bluestones was placed. These rocks weigh up to five tons each and were quarried hundreds of miles away in the mountains of Wales.
At a later date, five sets of megaliths (from the Greek megas=great and lithos=stone) were arranged in a U shape, with the open end facing sunrise. These huge, 40-ton stones were combined in threes to make trilithons, in a post-and-lintel setup. An outer round of thirty 15-foot-high megaliths was once a continuous circle of trilithons. Lintels fit together end to end in tongue-and-groove joints to form a smoothly curved arc.
Stonehenge exemplifies basic principles of all architecture. Its creators understood the fundamental element of support and load, where vertical pillars bear the weight of horizontal crossbeams. The monument clearly owes a debt to wood construction, for the stones are linked with a carpenter's mortise-and-tenon joints. (On top of each upright is a projecting knob of stone that fits into a matching notch in the lintel.)
HOW THEY DID IT. For a people who lacked bronze or iron tools and the wheel, the amount of work involved is nearly inconceivable. With only the crudest picks, these determined Neolithic workers quarried and shaped boulders weighing up to 50 tons. They transported the stones by barge or sled, probably dragged by large crews on log rollers. A team gradually levered the slabs into a vertical position and planted them in holes. Raising the huge, 7-ton lintels up 20 feet to the shoulders of the standing stones was done in stages. By prying the ends up and inserting timber beneath, they added layer after layer of logs to make an ascending palette. After they reached the height of the top and shoved the lintel sideways onto the uprights, the elevating scaffold was removed.
No one quite understands how our primitive ancestors pulled off such a feat. The secret is likely the limitless time and labor devoted to construction. The "how" we can begin to grasp. The "why" remains a mystery.
THE DAWN OF CIVILIZATION
The natural resources they started with—mud and water—were are not very promising. But what the ancient Mesopotamians constructed from such meager means was nothing short of a civilization. With mud bricks, they erected massive towers, the first monumental buildings designed with artistic intent. And on the arid plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Mesopotamia means between rivers), in the area that is now Iraq, they founded the first cities.
Along the way, from about 4500 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E. (when the Persian king Cyrus seized Babylon to end the Mesopotamian Empire), they developed writing, invented the wheeled vehicle, studied the stars, wrote epic poetry, and compiled the first legal code.
Mesopotamia is most celebrated for inventing the city. When Europe was still scrabbling in the Neolithic dirt with stone and bone tools, Mesopotamia enjoyed what has to be called culture. Their society was rolling in wealth derived from metal working, organized food production, and trade. The Greek historian Herodotus, a gadabout who left records of many sites he visited, said in about 450 B.C.E., "Babylon surpasses in splendor any city in the known world."
SUMER: THE BEGINNING. Near the Persian Gulf in the area known as the Chaldees, early Sumerian culture developed, reaching its Golden Age around 3300 B.C.E. They had no timber or stone, which meant their buildings of unfired, sun-dried brick, mortared with earth, had a distressing tendency to dissolve. Not much is left. Yet, since brick is structurally weak, walls were made extra thick (up to 20 feet) and reinforced with buttresses, so parts of some buildings remain.
The major innovation of Mesopotamian architecture was the ziggurat, a tall, terraced tower with up to seven successively smaller stages, placed one on top of the other, and a temple at the summit. (Think of a square, multitiered wedding cake.)
One thing architecture makes clear is that size and grandeur are manifestations of power. Ziggurats trumpet the king's clout. They were conceived as artificial mountains, which the priest-king climbed to commune with the gods.
MARTIAL ART. As the king became more powerful, his royal palace became the most sumptuous monument. When Sargon II built a citadel at Khorsabad (c. 706 B.C.E.), his palace dominated the complex, intimidating potential foes. Remains of the mile-square city show muscle-flexing decor. In the throne room, larger-than life alabaster relief sculptures of the king in his war chariot, triumphant atop a heap of enemy corpses and decapitated heads, made a ferocious wall treatment.
BABYLONIAN SPLENDOR: THE ZENITH. The most famous ziggurat, the Tower of Babel, was supposedly 300 feet high. The Book of Genesis quotes King Nebuchadnezzar's order "to raise the top of the Tower that it might rival heaven." Herodotus described the tower as seven-layered, each level faced with glazed tiles of a different color. Twenty-six tons of gold furnishings and sculpture filled the interior of the temple.
Babylon (located 25 miles south of Baghdad) reached its peak of luxury from 605 to 562 B.C.E. The city is renowned for two of the most famous architectural achievements of antiquity—the Processional Way and Ishtar Gate. The vast processional avenue, 73 feet wide and paved with white limestone and pink marble, ran north to south through the city. On either side, colorful walls rose 23 feet high, decorated with glazed blue tiles and red and gold relief enamels of lions.
In Mesopotamia, we see the first phase of an urban revolution. Public structures such as streets, squares, walls, gates, temples, palaces, canals, homes, and shops—what we would call "mixed use" zoning today—served a population of perhaps 50,000. By 200 C.E., "that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls," as Revelations puts it, was in ruins. Today all that's left is a mound of mud.
EGYPT: ARCHITECTURE TO DIE FOR
An ancient Arab proverb goes, "All things dread Time, but Time dreads the Pyramids." Unfazed by erosion, pollution, or aging, the pyramids have endured for almost 5,000 years. They are the only example of the seven wonders of the ancient world still around today, and it's likely they'll remain at least several more millennia.
Ancient Egyptian civilization flourished for 3,000 years, from about 3100 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E. It ended with a dramatic flourish when Cleopatra, last of the Ptolemies, pressed an asp to her bosom, choosing death rather than the dishonor of marching to Rome as prisoner. In the long interim between the rise and fall of Egypt, through the reign of thirty dynasties, the most notable buildings were religious and mortuary monuments, built of stone to last forever.
Among Egypt's contributions to architecture are: (1) the first large-scale, dressed stone buildings; (2) pure, geometric forms, such as the pyramid (the first abstract art); (3) invention of the column, capital, cornice, pylon, and obelisk; and (4) fine craftsmanship, including carved bas-reliefs as an integral part of the aesthetic whole.
What's called the "grand monotony" of Egyptian landscape—the flat planes of the desert and repetitive cycles of ebb and flood of the Nile River—may have shaped Egyptian style. Cultural conservatism finds a visual equivalent in linear works with an emphasis on mass and permanence. Looming over the sands, huge stone monuments rival in scale and ambition the river, desert, and mountains. It's as if their creators intended them to be not just objects in space but in the fourth dimension of time.
EVOLUTION OF PYRAMIDS: SOLID LIKE A ROCK. The embryo of the revolutionary pyramid form originated with the mastaba, a flat-topped rectangular tomb. Resembling a bar of metal bullion with sides that slope inward toward the top (mastaba means "bench" in Arabic), the tomb was made first of mud-brick, then solid rock, with shafts and passages leading to a subterranean crypt.
The impetus for lavishing such effort on what was basically a grave came from Egyptian religion. Immortality depended upon adequately providing for the deceased. (They were convinced that you can take it with you.) Tombs were designed to protect the mummified corpse and its possessions until the end of time.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: THE STEPPED PYRAMID. After mastabas, the next phase was the stepped pyramid of Zoser (c. 2700 B.C.E.), designed by the first known architect, Imhotep (see page 162). It consists of a receding stack of six stone mastabas rising to a height of 204 feet. Perhaps the form was intended as a concrete image of a staircase, which the departed king would ascend, as an inscription put it, "so that he may mount up to heaven thereby."
SUCCESS AT LAST. Just about 100 years after the first Egyptian stepped pyramid, Cheops built the stunning Great Pyramid, which was joined at Giza by two others erected by his successors, Chephren and Mycerinus. Perfectly proportioned, each consisting of four equilateral triangles; they were originally encased in gleaming white limestone, with a gold capstone. To travelers in the desert, they seemed like shafts of light made manifest.
The engineering involved in their construction was impressive. For the largest, or Great Pyramid, 2,300,000 blocks of granite and limestone, each weighing about two tons, or as much as an elephant, were stacked in 201 ascending tiers. The base, which covers 13 acres, or ten football fields, is an exact square, so level that one corner is only a fraction of an inch higher than its opposite corner. Each side is oriented precisely to a point of the compass.
Before its capstone was stripped away, the Great Pyramid stood 481 feet high and weighed 6 1/4 million tons. Hundreds of feet of stone are piled atop the burial chamber, cut into the middle of the edifice. To prevent the ceiling from collapsing under such weight, the architects created a partitioned ceiling, with layers of slabs weighing 400 tons in five separate compartments to relieve the stress. A triangular arch deflects the load into the mass of the pyramid itself.
More remarkable than their technology is the pure geometric form of the pyramids. The architects created an austere symbol of the concept of eternal life. The pyramid, the most stable geometric form, also serves as an abstracted image (like the obelisk) of rays emitted by the sun god Ra.
TEMPLES. The pyramids were part of a linear ensemble of buildings, including a square-pillared temple near the Nile and a causeway leading to another temple at the base of the pyramid. The processional aspect of alternating open and closed spaces was paramount. After it was evident that pyramids could be looted by grave robbers, pharaohs began constructing temple complexes with tombs cut directly into cliffs.
KARNAK AND LUXOR: AMBIANCE OF OVERSTATEMENT. In The Iliad, Achilles called Thebes "the hundred-gated city." Two temple compounds near Thebes were similarly profuse. Luxor and Karnak temples bristle with a plethora of fat carved columns, huge portals, and avenues lined with ram-headed sphinxes. Surfaces were covered with incised, painted hieroglyphics, like the tattooed man at a circus. A forest of pillars clogged interior spaces. So ornate is the temple at Luxor that, when Napoleon's troops first spotted its ruins, the entire army, agape, halted spontaneously and grounded their arms to stare.
Built by successive pharaohs from about 1530 to 320 B.C.E., the complexes included enormous pylon gateways, colonnaded courtyards, hypostyle halls, and inner sanctums hiding gold-sheathed statues of the deity Amon. The series of spaces gradually became darker and more constricted as the interiors became more sacred and inaccessible to the public. The architecture mirrored the progression from earthly to supernatural realms and from life to afterlife.
Imposing pylons (146 feet high and 50 feet thick at the base), covered with painted reliefs, formed massive entrances and recurred at intervals in the processional. A peri-style (area surrounded by columns) court was open to the sky, with rows of lotus-topped columns and gigantic statues of the king at the sides. Most remarkable was Rameses II's Hypostyle Hall, a room crammed with enormous, thick columns with papyrus-blossom capitals. Since the Egyptians lacked the arch, many supports were needed to support stone lintels. (Hypostyle means "resting on pillars" in Greek.)
The first clerestory windows at the top of the central nave walls admitted dim light, which increased the impression of claustrophobic seclusion. Colossal mass rather than refined aesthetics seems to have been the decorating aim.
Running the gamut from the pyramid's ultimate simplicity to the gaudy excess of late mortuary temples, Egyptian architecture had one common thread—an obsession with death and the need to house the immortal soul. The word for "temple" meant "house of death," but what the Egyptians really created were dwellings that would live forever.
Copyright © 2001 Gopits, Inc.. All rights reserved.
|Introduction: the Elements of Architecture||ix|
|Ancient World: the Building Blocks||2|
|Prehistoric Architecture: Rock of Ages||4|
|Mesopotamia: the Dawn of Civilization||6|
|Sumer, Khorsabad, Babylon|
|Egypt: Architecture to Die for||8|
|Evolution of pyramid form|
|Types of columns|
|Living with landscape|
|Greece: the Classics||12|
|How to tell Greek and Roman apart|
|Rome: Concrete Achievements||20|
|Evolution of arch|
|The Middle Ages: Church and State||30|
|How to tell medieval styles apart (Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic)|
|Romanesque: a Mighty Fortress||38|
|Carolingian (pre-Romanesque) style|
|Segmented interiors with round arch|
|Gothic: Building Lite||44|
|New techniques of pointed arch, rib vault, flying buttress|
|First Gothic cathedral|
|German hall churches|
|Role of architect|
|Evolution of buttress|
|Renaissance and Baroque: all Roads Lead from Rome||54|
|The Renaissance: Age of Rediscovery||56|
|Brunelleschi, Alberti, Palazzo design|
|How to judge architecture|
|High Renaissance: Rome||61|
|Architect as artiste|
|Laurentian Library, Campidoglio, Palazzo del Te|
|The Renaissance in France||66|
|England and Inigo Jones||67|
|Traits of Renaissance style|
|Baroque Architecture: Twirls and Swirls||68|
|St. Peter's, San Carlo|
|Baroque Classicism: France||72|
|English Baroque: Solid and Severe||75|
|Wren, St. Paul's|
|Austria and Germany: Rococo Reigns||77|
|Amalienburg Pavilion, Prince-Bishop's Residence, Vierzehnheiligen|
|Evolution of dome|
|The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: a Passion for the Past||80|
|The Eighteenth Century: Reason and Romance||82|
|England: Battle of the Styles||83|
|Rage for ruins|
|France: Vision and Revision||89|
|Colonial Architecture: Building the New World||92|
|The Nineteenth Century: Deja Vu All Over Again||96|
|The Cast-Iron Age||97|
|Buildings as national icons|
|England's Neoclassic Revival: Remembrance of Things Past||100|
|Houses of Parliament|
|Arts and Crafts movement|
|Germany: Prussia Embraces the Past||103|
|Schinkel, Ludwig of Bavaria|
|France: Napoleonic Splendor||104|
|Garnier's Paris Opera|
|United States: New Nation, Old Styles||106|
|Great buildings lost to demolition|
|Birth of the skyscraper|
|Evolution of vaulting|
|The Twentieth Century: From Hope to Irony||118|
|1900-1965: Modernism, Spare and Square||120|
|Frank Lloyd Wright: Breaking the Box||126|
|Greene and Greene|
|The Bauhaus: Industrial Strength||132|
|International Style: The Art of Subtraction||133|
|Mies van der Rohe|
|Phillips Exeter Library, Salk Institute, Villa Mairea|
|Sustainable architecture, Rudolph, 100 years of Skyscrapers|
|Contemporary Architecture: Pluralism Replaces Purism||142|
|Post-Modernism: At Play in the Fields of History||143|
|Venturi and Brown|
|Pritzker Prize winners|
|High-Tech: Inside-out Architecture||149|
|Neo-Modernism: Keeping the Faith||151|
|New Directions: Deconstructivism||155|
|New Formalism: Architecture as Sculpture||158|
|New Urbanism: Miles of Smiles||163|
|Disney as patron|
|Evolution of the pyramid|
|Cherchez la Femme: the Invisible Female Architect||165|
|Partnerships as the new paradigm|
|New Blood 101: The Shape of Things to Come||166|
Posted February 2, 2004
This book is jam-packed with information, presented in a fascinating, readable manner. The introductory chapter explains the elements of architecture which helps the reader appreciate the extraordinary buildings humans have created through the ages. The chronological progression of the rest of the book's chapters highlights major trends and developments in building styles and materials, demystifying the origins of many of today's structures. The book is just as easy to read straight through, as it zooms along through the history of architecture 'from the Stone Age to the Space Age,' as it is to locate a topic of particular interest and to start there. The glossary and extensive index make it easy to quickly learn about any one subject, building, or architect, and the numerous sidebars and timelines help the reader understand the context in which a building was created. The beautiful pictures and interesting stories bring you right to the doorstep of humanity's greatest achievements. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever wondered why a building is considered special, and think it would be a terrific present as well. Enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.