RSS Subscribe


Friday, August 27, 2010


[1] Select an object or a building from any time period that you believe meets Wotton’s definition (as cribbed from Vitruvius) of commodity, firmness, and delight. With an annotated image, take care to EXPLAIN the ways in which you see the definition realized through the object or building. Use design language and concepts discussed in class for dealing with precedents (5 points).

"Well building hath three conditions: firmness, commodity, and delight,"
                                                                                              - Sir Henry Wotten

    The Elements of Architecture as described by Vitruvius are utility, firmness and beauty. Which later on, in the seventeenth century, it was modified by Sir Henry Wotten. He said that it must provide commodity, firmness, and delight. What do they mean by that? It means that a building has to be functional, have a solid foundation, and be aesthetically pleasing. In my opinion, I believe that the Edgar Kaufmann residence, Fallingwater, near Mill Run, Pennsylvania by Frank Lloyd Wright meets all of the criteria’s. It is comfortable, solid, and appealing to the visual senses.

    The first element is commodity or comfort and that is exactly what Frank Lloyd Wright is trying to provide in this space. The large balconies that wrap around the house provide a great sense of comfort to all residents and guests. They can use this space to hang out and enjoy nature. The living room of the house is quite dark, and Wright purposely made it that way. The shadow created in the space is the result of the extended cantilevered terraces that shade the windows. (Fallingwater, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, 1) Dark rooms are not necessarily a bad thing to have, but of course there needs to be a purpose behind it. Wright created this shadow so that the room won’t feel so large and empty. By creating this shadow he makes the room look enclosed, inviting and cozy.

    Next element is firmness. Does the building have a good foundation and are the building materials used wisely? I believe so in this case. The house looks like its “floating” and to make it appear this way, the structural system combines wood and steel so that the amount of vertical supports necessary to give it that effect of weightlessness but at the same time its comfortable to look at.

    Last element is delight or beauty. The composition is well balanced which makes the house beautiful and pleasing to the eye. The exterior of the house satisfies our modern sense of beauty. Wright created contrast between rough vertical masonry piers and the smooth horizontal concrete floor slab upstands which give the house a very modern yet inviting look. (Roth, 83) The house is contrasted by the beauty of nature which makes it look like its part of the scenery and looks like it’s always been there.

[2] Working from Harwood et al’s concept of cultural precedents, select one of the contemporary textiles illustrated above and PINPOINT the influences you see from the eastern world on the production of fabric in the west. Concentrate on motifs and patterns provided in Harwood’s text (5 points).

This fabric has a very strong Chinese influence. The material used is silk.  Silk was very important and treasured which is why the production of this material was kept secret for about 3,000 years. Silk is considered a luxury fabric which is why it still reigns supreme. This particular fabric has an intricate design. The lotus plant is very important for the Chinese.

[3] When considering perceptions of personal and social space, Hall and others suggest that different cultures have different space needs and attitudes. Most consider that citizens of the U.S. generally feel a need for more space. How does this play out in the classroom in which we gather for iar222? (5 points)

 Everyone has a “bubble” around them. It seems like the better you know a person, the closer they can be to each other, but they are never allowed in the “bubble” unless it is your significant other. If they do cross that line, or get close to crossing the line, the individual feels threatened. The bubble size may differ for different cultures which is why it is important to understand the culture when designing for someone.

Being from a Spanish background, I have noticed that Latino people are more comfortable being close to one another even if they don’t know the person. We feel the need to interact and touch the person that we are communicating with. It makes us feel like the other person is engaged in the conversation and it is interested. That is not the case here for U.S. citizens what so ever. For example, the first day of class before being split into the seven groups, there was people scattered all over the place. There were 2 to 3 empty seats in-between people, unless they were friends or knew each other, even then, there was at least one seat in-between because the seats are so narrow. Now, that we are in our groups and are pretty much forced to seat next to someone. Now, you constantly hear “oh, sorry” when they bump elbows or accidentally touch the other person. “it is essential that we learn to read the silent communications essential as the printed and spoken ones.” If we do so, we will be able to design more efficiently.

[4] SPECULATE about whether or not there can be architecture of happiness, as de Botton writes in the work by the same title. Provide a juicy quote that helps give evidence to your views from the passage that you read. Include an annotated image of a happy object, space, building, or place and specify WHY and HOW your example exudes happiness (5 points)

Can there be architecture of happiness? Well I think that’s up to the person who you are talking to and when it is that you are talking to them. Let me give you an example to explain what I mean. Things that have happened to a person in the past can definitely determine whether or not the like a space. Maybe a certain style of a home reminds them of a loved one that is no longer with them. It doesn’t matter if the structure is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, that person will have a hard time living in a space like that. That would just be a constant reminder of something that they would rather not think about. But this idea can also be reversed by the same person. This individual could come to realize that it’s best if he/she remembers the good times and how happy this person one made them. Then, everything changes completely. Now instead of looking at the house and crying, they can look at the house and remember all of the memorable moments and how happy they once were.

 I personally believe that a person should be happy at all times, no matter what you have or where you live or what you drive.

Just to leave you thinking for a minute, always remember this:

“I cried because I didn’t have shoes, until I saw someone that didn’t have feet” Be thankful for what you do have instead of crying over what you can’t have, everything will look beautiful if you do so.