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ARCH 121 – INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURE ILECTURE NOTES:WEEK 1 - Introduction: Definition of Architecture and the Architect:1. Definition of ArchitectureArchitecture could be basically defined as ‘the art and science of designing and constructingbuildings’. As a word, ‘architecture’ can carry several other meanings, such as:1. The product or result of architectural work: buildings, urban areas and landscapes.2. A style or method of building characteristic of a people, place or time.3. The profession of designing buildings and other habitable environments by architects.4. The conscious act of forming things resulting in a unifying or coherent structure.1In its most simple form, architecture is the design and organization of spaces, and in its mostcommon form, it is the design of buildings, their interiors and surrounding spaces.The architect acts a designer, who can work in a wide range of scales, from a scale as large as theplanning of a city, up to a scale as small as the design of a chair.Ching, F., Visual Dictionary of Architecture2. Etymology of the Word ‘Architecture’Etymologically (in terms of the root of the word), the word ‘architecture’ comes from the Greekarkhitekton (ἀρχιτέκτων), which is a combination of the word arkhi, meaning “chief” or“master”, and tekton, meaning “mason” or “builder”. In line with the etymology, architecture1Ching, F., Visual Dictionary of Architecture1

used to denote both the process and the product of designing and constructing buildings; and thearchitect used to be known as the “master mason” or “master builder” in the past.3. Origin of ArchitectureArchitecture is one of the oldest professions in human history. It appeared with human being’sneed of shelter to protect himself from the weather and danger outside. It first evolved as theoutcome of needs (like shelter, security, worship etc.) and means (like the available buildingmaterials and skills). As human cultures progressed, building became a craft and later theformalized version of that craft, which is practiced by educated professionals, is called‘architecture’.The Great Cave of Niah, Malaysia (human remains dating to 40,000 years)Primitive Maori shelter, New Zeland (Canterbury Museum) (left), Shelter of Chumash andOhlone Indians, USA (Photo: Norm Kidder) (right)4. Natural form, Man-made form, Architectural artifactAs the famous architect Louis Kahn says “architecture is what nature cannot make”. Indeed,human beings are one of the few animals that can build buildings. Structures that some animals2

build, such as some birds’, bees’, or white ants’ nests, indeed resemble our buildings in terms oftheir structural economy.2 For example a certain bird in South America (Rufous-breastedSpinetail) builds a two room nest, with rooms tied to each other by a tube like structure. Or, whiteblind ants build structures out of mud on the ground. Or, the sea mollusk nautilus builds a shellaround itself out of calcium carbonate. As it grows, this nautilus adds a new and bigger volume toits shell, and the small, emptied part of the shell is filled with nitrogen, which gives the shell thequality of floating in the water. These older parts of the shell are left as the record or the heritageof the animal’s history.Nest of Rufous-breasted Spinetail, South America (Photo: ProAves Colombia) (left), White antnest, Africa (Photo: unknown) (right)Nautilus shellSimilarly, architecture is the shell of the human species. It is the environment that we build forourselves. However, unlike the animals, we as human beings “think” while we are makingbuildings. Our act of building our buildings is a conscious process. This is what differentiatesman-made structures from animals’ nests. Animals produce their nests or shells as a result oftheir genetic coding. We on the other hand, build our buildings consciously to meet somerequirements and we not only meet those requirements but we give expression to some valuesand sensations, such as cultural values.2Roth, L. Understanding Architecture3

Parthenon in Ancient Greece made to honor the Greek goddess Athena (left), Taj Mahal in Indiamade as a mausoleum to honor the Emperor Shah Cihan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal (right)As our experience and knowledge develops and as the cultural and environmental circumstanceschange, we change and evolve this architectural environment. But if we want to protect ouridentity, we should take optimum care in protecting the “shell” of our past. Because that “shell”(or architecture) of our past is the physical record of our lives, our successes and aspirations. It isthe cultural heritage that is left to us.As famous thinker John Ruskin said: “Great nations write their autobiographies in threemanuscripts–the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not oneof these can be understood unless we read the other two; but of the three, the only quitetrustworthy one is the last.”As rightly said, architecture is like the history and literature of one nation in built form. It is therecord of the people who produced it and could be “read” as the history or literature of thosepeople. It is a nonverbal way of communication and it is the quiet record of the people whoproduced it. We can understand a culture’s history and literature from their architecture andlikewise if we want to understand the architecture of any period or culture (in the past or today),we should understand the history and literature (deeds and the words) of that period. (p. 23)4

Empire State building, New York (left), Big Donut shop in Los Angeles (right)This way for example, Empire State building in New York (built in 1932, Shreve, Lam andHarmon associates) tells us about capitalism and the urban values of 20th century, and the BigDonut shop in Los Angeles (built in 1954, Henry J. Goodwin), even though it is a badarchitectural example, tells us about the living style of American people, their car dominated lifeand desire for savory fast food.Therefore, architecture is the art that we cannot avoid. We can avoid and not see other arts oneway or another, such as painting or sculpture, but architecture, like it or not, affects us and shapesour behaviors all time, as we live in and around it. We have the feeling of awe when we arewalking in the hypostyle hall of Karnak temple in Egypt, or under the dome of SuleymaniyeMosque in İstanbul, or when we see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House with all itsbeauty within the environment that surrounds it. Or more commonly, we are affected by the colorof the room we are in.5

Hypostyle hall of Karnak temple, Egypt (left), Suleymaniye mosque by Mimar Sinan, İstanbul(right)Falling Water House, Pennsylvania, USA by Frank Lloyd Wright (left), A room painted green(right)However architecture is not just art. Architecture deals with form and gives very muchimportance to how that form looks, but it also deals with function and how that function affectsform. This is what differentiates the art works, such as sculpture, from architecture. Architectsthink also of other things such as function or structure, next to form, beauty and expression.Moreover, art does not have to be beautiful. Art expresses the sensations, feelings of the artistthrough the forms he/she chooses, with or without purpose or beauty. Architecture is not thatfree.6

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917 (left); Weeping Woman with Handkerchief by PabloPicasso, 1937 (right).5. Fundamentals of ArchitectureThe earliest surviving written work on architecture is Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius’ Dearchitectura (Ten Books on Architecture), which was written in the early 1st century AD.Vitruvius has written in his book that a good building must satisfy three main qualities, which arefirmitas, utilitas, venustas. Referring to firmness, functionality, and beauty, Vitruvius denotedthat a good building should be firm, useful, and beautiful and that the architect should strive tofulfill each of these three qualities as well as possible.Since ancient times, these basic elements of architecture (firmness, functionality and beauty)have remained essentially unchanged. Accordingly, architectural products (or buildings) shouldstill be firm, which means that they should stand up firm and solid, and remain in good condition;they should still be functional, which means that they should be useful and function well for thepeople using them; and they should still be beautiful, which means that they should please thesenses of the people who view and use them.Therefore, architecture should try to reach the optimum combination of firmitas, venustas andutilitas, meaning the firmness of structure, beauty of the form (and space), and the functionalityof the building. For this reason the profession of architecture is in between the arts, the scienceand the humanities. Therefore, the architect should equip him/herself with the knowledge ofmany branches of study, such as aesthetics, building technology, sociology etc., to be able toproduce architectural works that meet the needs of people properly.7

ustasScienceFirmnessFirmitasTherefore, the ultimate test of architecture is made with the following questions:1. Is the building functional? (Could it be used effectively and easily?)2. Is the building firm? (Is its structure firm enough to carry all the weights it should carry,such as its own weight, its users’ weights, and the forces of the wind and the earthquake?And, Are its materials durable enough to withstand many years of use?)3. Is the building beautiful? (Does the building give visual delight to the user and the viewer;is it aesthetic and pleasing?)(Source: Ching, F., Architecture: Form, Space and Order)8

(Source: Ching, F., Architecture: Form, Space and Order)6. Scope of ArchitectureAs the etymology indicates, the architect has to act as the “master builder” and see the buildingboth as an object of design and as a process of building. Therefore, he/she has to have a fullcommand of both the form, function, and structure of the building, and also other factors such asthe site characteristics, materials, lighting, heating and acoustic conditions, color and texture ofbuildings.First of all, architecture takes place at a site or a context. The site of an architectural projectaffects and determines very important characteristics about the project, such as its layout,orientation, approach, views, relationship with the environment, and materials (as they woulddifferentiate according to the climate).9

Secondly, to be able to create comfortable environments for people, architecture takes care of thelighting, heating and acoustic conditions of the building, as well as the color of spaces and thetexture of the materials. It considers how light affects and travels within the building, how thebuilding is heated or ventilated, how it reacts to sounds (acoustics), what colors it should have,and the textural sensations evoked by the materials used in it. After all, a completed building is asensory experience.3 (farelly, p. 8-11)Besides these, architecture can also carry a symbolic function. It can have a symbolic content tobe conveyed to its users or viewers. This symbolic content could be perceived easily in religiousand governmental buildings. A courthouse for example could be made to be intimidatingconsciously, or a religious building could be built to create the feeling of awe. Moreover,architectural works could act as icons of cities, such as Eiffel Tower in Paris or Chrysler buildingin New York.Reichstag (German Parliament Building), GermanyReims Cathedral, Reims, France3Farelly, Mimarligin Temelleri10

Eiffel Tower in Paris (left) or Chrysler building in New York (right)7. Architectural production and creativityArchitectural production is a process that includes the stages of thinking, designing and drafting.This process starts with the development of a “concept”. A concept is the initiating idea of theproject and can be formed by way of considering several factors, such as the function and siteconditions of the project, a possible structural system, or the historical and cultural context of thesite.This “concept” starts to take “form” by including the “functions” attached to it. Then, this “form”is further shaped “structurally” and “materially”. Finally, the form is realized in three dimensionsby taking care of the sound related (acoustics), light related (illumination) and spatialconsiderations.As other design disciplines, architecture is an act of problem solving that requires a creativethinking process. These problems need creativity because they do not have predeterminedmethods (as in mathematical formulas or theorems) for their solutions. Each designer/architecthas to find their own methods themselves for each and every different design problem.When a designer is given a design problem, his depth and range of design vocabulary affects bothhow he understands the problem and also how he shapes his answer. If one’s understanding of adesign vocabulary is limited and the range of possible solutions to the problems are also limited.The concepts and methods for different design problems can be formed by getting inspired frompast architectural solutions and architects, by getting inspired from nature by analogy ormetaphor, or most favorably by total innovation of new forms and structures. Architecturalcreativity exists when the architectural work is both original and appropriate.11

An example to inspiration to past forms: Pantheon, Rome, Italy (126 AD) (left), JeffersonMemorial, Washington DC, USA (1943)An example to an analogy to nature: A picture of an armadillo (left), The SECC ConferenceCenter in Glasgow, Scotland (by Foster and Partners in 1995-1997) (right)Examples to creativity and originality in architecture: Villa Savoye Poissy by Le Corbusier,1929-31(left), Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, 1951 (right)12

Examples to creativity and originality in architecture: Falling Water (Kauffman) House by FrankLloyd Wright, USA (left), National Congress of Brazil by Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia, 1958 (right)8. Course Description and ObjectivesAs the “art of building”, architecture has its own language. In order to read and write in alanguage you should first know the letters, words and the grammar of that language. Sameapplies here. In order to learn architecture, you have to learn its letters, its vocabulary (or basicelements) and the grammar (composition principles) that brings them together. Once you learnthese fundamental components, you can read and write anything in architecture.The aim of this course is to introduce you with the elements and principles of architectural designin order to support you in your design studies. For this reason, this course will introduce you withthe basic elements of form and space and show you how they are manipulated and organized inthe development of a design concept.13

ARCH 121 – INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURE I LECTURE NOTES: WEEK 1 - Introduction: Definition of Architecture and the Architect: 1. Definition of Architecture Architecture could be basically defined as ‘the art and science of designing and constructing buildings’. As a word, ‘architecture’ can carry several other meanings, such as: 1.

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