Methods and materials
|Art Appreciation and Techniques (#ART100)|
|Art and architecture||Overview | Introduction | Methods and materials | Architecture in China and the Far East | Cross-cultural influences | Architecture and the Industrial Revolution | Modern architecture | Postmodern and contemporary architecture | Green architecture | Summary|
In western culture, one of the earliest settlements with permanent structures was discovered at Çatalhöyük in Turkey. The rich soil that surrounds the settlement indicates the inhabitants relied in part on farming. Dated to about 7500 BCE, the dwellings are constructed from dried mud and brick and show wooden support beams spanning the ceilings. The design of the settlement incorporates a cell-like structure of small buildings either sharing common walls or separated by a few feet. The roofs are flat and were used as pathways between buildings.
The basic methods in building design and construction have been used for thousands of years. Stacking stones, laying brick or lashing wood together in one form or another are still used today in all parts of the world. But over the centuries, innovations in methods and materials have given new expression to architecture and the human footprint on the landscape. We can look to historical examples for clues that give context to different style periods.
Post and lintel
A significant advance came with the development of the post and lintel system. With this, a system of posts either stone or wood are placed at intervals and spanned by beams at the tops. The load is distributed down the posts to allow for areas of open space between them. Its earliest use is seen at Stonehenge (below, left), a prehistoric monument in southern England dating to about 3000 BCE.
The Parthenon, a Greek temple to the mythic goddess Athena, was built in the 5th century BCE in Athens and is part of a larger community of structures in the Acropolis. All are considered pinnacles of classic Greek architecture. Ionic colonnades march across all sides of the Parthenon, the outer boundary of a very ordered interior floor plan.
ArchMesopotamian brick architecture. They supply strength and stability to walls without massive posts and beams because their construction minimizes the shear load imposed on them. This meant walls could go higher without compromising their stability and at the same time create larger areas of open space between arches. In addition, the arch gave buildings a more organic, expressive visual element. The Colosseum in Rome (at right), built in the first century CE, uses repeated arches to define an imposing but decidedly airy structure. The fact that its still standing today is testament to the inherent strength of the arch.
Pantheon in Rome sports a dome with an oculus a round or elliptical opening at the top, that is the massive buildings only light source.
These elements combined to revolutionize architectural design throughout Europe and the Middle East in the form of bigger and stronger churches, mosques and even sectarian government buildings.
Flying buttressgroin vault ceilings, thick walls with low exterior buttresses and squared off towers. Buildings reached a point where they struggled to support their own weight. The architectural solution to the problem was a flying buttress, an exterior load-bearing column connected to the main structure by a segmented arch or flyer.
ribbed vaults and spired towers. Also, the thinner walls of the Gothic style allowed for more stained glass windows and interior illumination.
St. Denis basilica in France (at right) is one of the first Gothic style churches, known for its high vaulted ceilings and extensive use of stained glass windows. The architecture of the church became a symbol of spirituality itself: soaring heights, magnificently embellished interiors and exteriors, elaborate lighting and sheer grandeur on a massive scale.