The Popes As Planners: Rome, 1450-1650

Feudal system brought duality to authority (duality between aristocracy and church). In the end of middle ages, the popes gained importance on all issues: social, political and architectural. I mean, in this period ,  men of the god had enlarged power on management to affect all economy, education, design of cities and building etc. So they built grand churches in the center of cities. Large and high churches was build in city centers to show the power of god and show the strength of Christianity. By building cathedrals, they ignored planning of the city as whole. However, they reorganized streets, residential and urban areas according to the location of churches. Therefore, they created a main axis that stretch aloung the churches.

The Renaissance: Ideal and Fad

The Islmaic culture were realized  and spread. It takes its part from the as of now exists culture and some of the monuments lost its place and some of the building’s interiors, exteriors or both of them were adopted in Islamic culture. For example, Gothic chapel turned into the mosque of Cordoba.

In the beginning of 1500s, ancient Rome traditions were reinterpreted and modernized. Leon Battista Alberti was the fountainhead of the new architecture of the new way of thinking in this period. In the city there was a past we could disassemble ourselves from and look at critically. We could analize by looking two types of the past, one is glorious past and the other is  the study of humanities. Therefore, it compounded the modernization fact not just in architecture also in art. For example, there were examples that Brunellesci learnt from art and applied to architecture. After the Brunelleschi, Gothic architecture functioned according to an abstract system of proportions. Individual elements of the building had no fixed proportions within themselves or with respect to overall measurements, but instead relied on internal correlations that followed from initial geometric choices. Therefore, we can interpret that people became getting away Gothic architecture trends and they were approaching the architecture with an innovative perspective.

Alberti says that Architecture cannot be the consist of only function. Because if it was be like that people do not need architect, a builder can build the structures.

After the some development in the architecture, we can say that architect, armed with the science of linear perspective and new mathematics. The Piccolomini palace as the example of the largest structure. At the same time, the church has the central place of honor. At the visual level, seen form within the piazza, the papal block obscures most of itself in order to insure bilateral symmetry. The main entrance shifts for relating and centering the square. Also, the proportions of buildings defined and locked in place by the intervening space and its grid. Therefore, we can observe the foundation of rational and proportional order in this structure.

The Urbanization of Europe, 1100-1300

In the 12.Century, at the Rome there was a revolution to the patriarchs. Therefore, in this situation, France made some changes in religious to not undergo this revolution and France is affected from this situation in a positive way. At the same time, the changes about the Feudal structure create a new society class. People were against to the nobility and the church. They worked on trade so they built new structure styles such as; guild halls, tore houses, market building, shop etc. and also streets and public places were getting shape with the help of these structures.

In the old towns, we see the significant effect of the gothic structure. Although, in some parts we saw the imitation of Roman Empire, in the other parts we saw the imitation of Germanic Kingdom. At the Europe, we see the significant marks of the Roman Legacy. These cities were getting more safety for the pilgrims. Protection (protection of people) is an important idea in there and there was another important thing which was the stopping the increase of the population. At this situation, circular form of the cities became more suitable because it gives a chance to the natural growing of the city.

If we turn back to the individual structures from the broad urban canvases , we see two general observation. The first one is variation of building types, the other one is the town that is defined with the user and the client. Some situations (like the decline of the urban milieu and the rise of the Christian ethic) made some styles of buildings more general. Therefore, some buildings started to be used more such as, theatres, baths and circuses, amphitheatres, basilicas, forums, administrative buildings of all kinds, warehouses and brothels. This important change affected to the architectural thought in two ways. A divorce between form and function began to occur. At the same time, several functions could be gathered under a single roof. I mean as Kostof said, a hospital can be also a poorhouse, orphanage, almshouse etc.

The Birth of Nations: Europe After Charles

Romanesque architecture is the first style that can be found all parts of the Europe but there is some regional variations inside. In Carolingian Europe we see architectural products which carried both traces of tradition and tendency for modernity. Therefore, there is an architectural approach that was a temperate mix of past and that day.  In that period feudalism came to forward (the main reason behind feudalism was based on concerns for the defense of territories).

In the Romanesque, there are three main structure typology : churches, monasteries and castles. church was a significant building type with its unifying power. Castles were defensive constructions. They were generally in steep places due to increase the defense and it became easily defendable.

The Triumph of Christ

In the third century, Rome faced many problems and went through several changes. The balance between the rich and poor felt into decay. The rich was getting more rich and the poor was getting in deeper. Else, after the Christianity was legitimized, social structures had changed significantly. It has its influence over architecture.

There were many important architectural structures in Rome and one of them is Hadrian’s Villa which is used as senatorial and imperial villa. Hadrian’s Villa is a complex architectural structure that contains over 30 buildings and it is a great example of Alexandrian gardens and its complexity has strong relations with the landscape.

With Christianity, generated concepts which are baptism and cemetery required new organization. Thus we can understand that the religion shapes the way of living and their architecture.

In Roman architecture, producing apse, that had been used at long axes of halls, in the temples was a common approach. Dome form integrated with Christianity. Also in the apse, there are some important human figures and anglel representations. One example of these apse is in San Vitale. By using mosaic, they prefer to illustrate Bishop Ecclesis’s power.

The nave is the main body of the church which provides the central approach to the high altar. Also it is long, narrow, high and part of the churches. Hagia Sophia has an effective nave in itself. Hagia Sophia is an important church for the Roman architecture which is located at the top right of the center in the area of the Great Palace of the Byzantine emperor.  It has a strong axial path passing from different heights and enclosure levels and also there is a different approach of the dome usage. Dome is not there to mark an object of veneration.

Rome: Caput Mundi

Because of some characteristic forms (like vaulting and arch) and applications, we can distinguish Roman architecture in many ways. We can see these forms in substructures of terrace buildings, baths, warehouse are some of the structures. The material quality is important because it affects the perception of structure. Thus, in order to produce vaults, they prefer to use stone or brick face concrete . In this way, they could produce vaults with a single shelled way. This approach is really efficient for more light. Besides, producing and rising vaults in different heights create levels of lighting conditions which also differentiate space from one another.

In order to comprehend Roman architecture and their basis of urbanism, we should analyse  two important cities which are Rome and Pompeii in that time. Pompeii was a port town that sits on an isolated volcanic mountain and overlooking Sarno river. Pompeii was preferred and used summering place for the rich people because of landscape qualities. The walls enclosed the city which were risen all along the boundary. The streets of Pompeii were paved with dark lava stones. With lava stone’s orientation the streets are defined.

Roman domus is a typical house in cities owned by higher middle class. Producing court in the house is still a common approach however there is evolution and variation of courtyard. There is Atrium which is ‘Selamlık’ part of Roman house. It is where the entre the house and it has opening to the sky and has a pool where the opening is. Peristylium is another courtyard. It has column series inside. It is like a backyard garden.

The Hellenistic Realm

Greek cities spread over new regions because of wars and overpopulation in Greece in the fourth century. Greeks’ king the Alexander the Great expended his territories to Anatolia (even near to India). This expansion called for the end of the classical period.

Architecture was moving from Classical to Hellenistic style. Axial approach of Hellenistic structured was adopted from Akropolis of Athens. Also, column and the wall that used to be thought separately, were now combined together. Parthenon has two rows of columns dividing a space into three and cella surrounded by frieze has strong columns invites its visiters. I mean, these styles are conglomeration of older achievements and changes in coexist styles.

The temple of Apollo pursues for three dimensional appeerance and strong sunlight emphasizing the statue. Design of light and shadow condition is linked with religion and deity of light. Corinthian which is  new architectural order appeared in the temple of Apollo. This order has a capital with natural attrubitions added on the Ionic and Doric columns. Its aims are more grounded on decorative purposes. Cella has dominated the plan with continuous frieze along the three sides and cella columns molded into the walls. It creates sense of expension by increasing open space of cella. Cella columns that used to carry roof now passed its job on the walls. In so doing it also passed its meaning and became more figurative element of the design.

The Architecture of Ancient Egypt

As in Mesopotamia, the story starts with the village life included farming and animal husbandry  which was turned in time into a complex pattern of river settlements subject to controlled irrigation. During the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia, Egyptian building made great progress. Starting with efficacious palaces and tombs in brick that lean on the vernacular idiom and canonized it, the country developed an articulate stone architecture which has great examples at Saqqara and Giza.

The Saqqara is a tomb of pharaoh Zoser. Small courts in there stood before king’s white and red palaces. There was the stepped pyramid to the west side of these palaces. In the north side of this pyramid there was the mortuary temple and a small room called serdab. In the serdab there was Zoser’s statue. This and the other statues were considered as an esteemed substitutes for dead body after the death. A simple stone mastaba was placed over a circular opening that helps to reach the body. The mastaba is the lowest stage of the four-stepped pyramid ( then the stages increased to six). These six stages are not equal and they had an effect visually close to the Mesopotamian ziggurat. However there was a difference. In Saqqara, there was not stairs that human reach. The reason of this was to show how holy person is the king and to lift him to heaven, to the sun-god Re.

When we compared to the Zoser’s independent layout of complex, the pyramids in Giza was aligned along an axis. The mortuary temple (called valley temple because it was at the edge of the Nile) was closer to the river and connected with it by a canal so the dead body can brought by boat. In font of the Sphinx (a recumbent leonine body welded to the portrait-head of the king wearing the royal headdress as the Kostof describe), there was a temple dedicated to Harmakhis (a sun-god). This temple was arranged around a rectangular court which was a continuous cloister held with 24 columns, perchance because of the sun’s daily journey, and there was two axical niches (east and west) again because of the sun’s daily journey’s axis. The temple next to this temple has same entrance, first long vestibule and then a T-shaped hallset in an really thick casement of masonry. The masonry does not imitate natural forms but it has wondrous geometry and abstraction of its square uprights and lintels. From this temple the body was transformed to the mortuary temple with causeway. The walls of causeway have been decorated with paintings and reliefs. The subject of reliefs and paintings are judging, actual construction of the pyramid’s project like transportation of columns and architraves, the tilling of the royal estates, hunting, fishing etc. The mortuary temple again start with a T-shaped entrance and then an open court that was surrounded by a cloister. There was also five narrow openings, they probably show the five official names esteemed by the king on his accession.

The Cave and The Sky: Stone Age Europe

The second reading assignment is also from Spiro Kostof which is the second chapter called The Cave and The Sky: Stone Age Europe.

From the start of human beings, making space is the first and one of the earliest human need so architecture has showed up from this time and they arranged places according to satisfy their needs.

All people describe and think architecture as a shelter, as a roof over heads like they said because of the feelings of immunity and being secure but architecture more than this. Boundary and monuments limit space and create some organizations so with the help of these, humans created their own order in nature.

In the time of primitive (first human generation) because of searching sufferable climate and food, they benefited what nature give them so they used the caves as a shelter and so longer they organized their lives.

In the Old Stone Age, the role of caves went beyond just a shelter. Because of the mysterious side of death, they leant to prayer and the caves became a religious places. In that period, the hunter began to use art for express and tell something in a factual manner. For example in the cave Lascaux was covered by animals like reindeer, bison, deer, horse. However human figure was minute amount because the hunters’ point of view, animals have seemed independent and strong in contrast the hunters were dependent and weak.

In the New Stone Age, farming and animals husbandry came into existence. Because of increase in population, they needed more food so they went toward to food production instead of hunting (which is not secure when we compared to farming) so they adopted a sedentary life and architecture somehow changed according to this basic changes in social life and behaviour. Boundary and monuments manifested themselves. There was bordered settlements and farmland (Farmland is divided into individual fields.)

The Study of What We Built – History of Architecture

Second year of my architecture education has just started and this year I have ‘ History of Architecture ‘ course. The first assignment of this course is about the first chapter of ‘ A History of Architecture ‘ by Spiro Kostof.

Architecture and history cannot be separeted from each other and we cannot analyse architecture distinct from its history. While we are analysing the architecture (structure), we have two options to get information, one of them is visual sources and the other one is literary sources. All pictures, paintings, diagrams, sketches an architectural drawings such as plans, sections and elevations are the visual sources for us. These are the common language that assist to get to know structures for other architects, engineers etc. They give information to us about both physical properties, design process and design decisions of the structure. Another source which is the literary sources is quite dangerous and complicated when we compared to visual sources because as Kostof exemplified in his book ‘ Pliny’s book about The Mousoleum of Halikarnassos came down us in several texts and they have changed because of different copyists so they are miscopied and we lost some informations.’

The history of architecture is not only about the structure itself. It is also about the environment of the structure so to understand the structure we should analyse its surrounding, the other structures, urban and its history, some ethics and philosophies of some movements that predominate in its time and lifestyle of its users.

Consequently, to comprehend the architecture we should check and understand its time and aim. They give us all beneficial knowledge about architecture and its meaning.