Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Context as Important as the Building

By Patrick Londrigan

The influence of materials in design is a major part in today’s architecture.  Along with the topography and the context being other important areas.  These ideas are mentioned in the Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance and are the topic’s in which I searched to find a related article.  That article was The Influence of Building Materials on Architecture.  This article dates back to 1892 in London but does relate in ways I enjoy to the first article.
In the second article it talks mostly about the exterior building materials to be used in good design.  How stone is the best material to use, then follows wood, then after that brick.  Stone being the longest lasting and the best looking.  Brick not yet being as popular of a building material though the author was still trying to push for it to be used more.  He speaks of knowing your surroundings when designing a building.  For instance at the time a coal plant was being built and a factory was being built close by.  The designers of the factory decided to create the building partly with brick and partly with freestone dressing.  The aftermath was the freestone dressing becoming a dirty black and the whole result in whatever architectural design they were going for, being totally destroyed by the dirt.  Had the designers prepared and thought the design through further they could have planned for that.  Putting brick around the whole exterior so if the dirt did affect it, the whole building would be affected the same making the dirt less noticeable.
Another point, which I mentioned in my first writing, was working more with the topography and context of the site.  The idea of creating something that can only be seen in that area of the world.  Mentioned here in article two about how the buildings differ from out in the country to in the city.  To quote William Morris from the second article, “in passing through the country one sees many examples of thoroughly good ordinary country buildings, built of the mere country materials, very often of the mere stones out of the fields; and it is a very great pleasure to see the skill with which these buildings are constructed. They are very often not pointed at all, but you cannot help noticing the skill with which the mason has picked out his longs and his shorts, and put the thing together with really something, you may say, like rhythm and measurement (his traditional skill that was), and with the best possible results.  This quote reiterates what I said in the first article write-up, using your topography and the context to your benefit, to create a memorable building.  The idea of using your context and materials on the site is something you never see in today’s architecture, but is something I find amazing and can truly be defined as architecture.
Relating this second article to the first in the Culture Versus Nature section.  Where as just as the farmer created his building from the site, Mario Botta say’s “building the site.” “It is possible to argue that in this last instance the specific culture of the region – that is to say, its history in both a geological and agricultural sense – becomes inscribed into the form and realization of the work.”  Using your topography and context helps you to create great architecture.  Not only that, when incorporating the use of correct materials you may also design a great building.  Both articles press to know your surroundings and to know the context of your site and you will create a great piece of architecture.

Frampton, K. Towards a Critical Regionalism. Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance, 29.

Morris, W. The Influence of Building Materials on Architecture. Century Guild Hobby Horse, January 1892

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