Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Exploring Culture through Architecture

How do our the structures we create demonstrate culture? The following is a short list of structures considered to have historical and cultural significance... or even just captivate our mind with their originality or beauty...

Sydney Opera House - The Sydney Opera House was created by Jorn Utzon. The building of the Opera House started in 1959 and finished in 1973. The remarkable design incorporates many contrasting geometries to beautiful effect. The Opera House is located at Bennelong Point on Sydney Harbour ; near Australia 's other great icon, the Sydney Harbour Bridge . The Sydney Opera House is considered a classic model of expressionistic architecture.

Sydney Operation House, Australia

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower construction began on January 26, 1887 and was completed on March 31, 1889. The Tower stands 324 meters tall with three floors open to the public; the ground floor, first and second floor and top floor. 
Eiffel Towr, Paris

Christ the Redeemer Statue
This particular statue stands 120 feet tall and weighs 700 tonnes. It is located at the peak of Corcovado Mountain This particular statue is a reminder of Christianity and is a well known icon of both Rio and Brazil. The idea came about in the mid 1850's but was not realized until 1921, when a suggestion was made for the statue. Heitor da Silva Costa was the designer and the sculptor was Paul Landowski. Yes it's a statue, not a building... but it's pretty breath taking!!
Christ the Redeemer Statue

The Weisman Art Museum (1993)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry - The Nationale-Nederlanden Building (1996)
Prague, Czech Republic

Nicknamed the Dancing House and Fred and Ginger, this glass-and-stucco office building is pretty unique...

Anyone who has been to Spain must have come across architectural marvels by Antoni Gaudi. His work being creative stands out. Highlights of his style are bright colors, tiled mosaic patterns, and nature-inspired forms. Following are few examples of his creative excellence.
La Sagrada Família
This is still under construction, and by the looks of it will complete in near future. Despite being under construction, this is the most visited monument in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Família

Barcelona Park Güell
Another marvel of Gaudi’s creative mind is Park Guell, Standing above the city it is a must visit place.

barcelona Park Güell

Taipei Museum of Art - Taiwan

Links to Slideshows and photos...

Top 10 Architectural Sites in the World...

Travel Guides to Viewing Architecture...

If you're mesmerized by the fanciful colors and capricious lines of Art Nouveau, or you long to retreat into the past beneath Gothic cathedral ceilings or Roman arches, you're an architecture buff at heart. You're likely a traveler, too. Around the world, architecture old and new reflects more than just design trends -- it's a glimpse into history and into the lives of locals. In other words, architecture and travel go together like Grecian columns and Neoclassicism. What trip to any major city is complete without an examination of its best buildings?

This link is for travellers, it is the best cities to visit for architecture...

Architectural Design - Great buildings....

Architecture Awards...

** Find your own architectural marvel... Answer the questions in a short presentation for ELA and Social Studies...

Questions to reflect upon and then present to the class.

1. Why is the site you selected considered beautiful or at least interesting? What about this structure captures our attention?

2. Who created the structure? 

3. Why did he or she create it? What is the structure used for?

4. How does the building represent the culture or the people? Does it fit the surrounding area?

5. How is the building suited to the environment that it comes from?

*Select structures created after the birth of Jesus... this means no pyramids please...
so I can post them on this blog... or if you have a google account you can post them as a comment...

Rubric for "My Architectural Marvel"
10 - All questions throughly and insightfully answered - makes audience "wonder and think"; sent responses and image via e-mail on-time; well rehearsed presentation -  quite knowledgeable in regards to structure (evident research)

9 - All question thoroughly answered; sent responses and image via e-mail on-time; well rehearsed presentation ; quite knowledgeable in regards to structure.

8 - Almost all questions responded to well; sent response and image via e-mail; practiced and fairly well explained; fairly good knowledge of structure

7 - Most questions responded to well; sent image via e-mail (needed reminders); practiced and fairly well explained; some basic knowledge of structure

6 - Some questions answered; handed in responses; image had to be searched... not sent on time via e- mail; unsure and unpracticed for the presentation

5 - Minimal responses; no image sent; responses not handed in or very late; unpracticed (stops... unprepared...)

4 - Did not answer the questions given and responses not handed in... no effort to even try to complete the assignment... did not present... Ouch!!!

Architects may create a dream home for a family, a house that nobody else has, or design houses that respond to community needs and create a community identity. Some cultures have developed distinctive housing styles, using locally harvested building materials and simple construction. While they meet the needs of the residents in straightforward, practical ways, these homes are often quite beautiful and subtly styled. 

Believe it? Or not??? Check out this video below ... (click on the link...)

Architects use skill, inspiration, and input from their clients to design buildings. An architect uses knowledge of design, history, and structure to create buildings that function well for each client's needs.

You will visit a site called the "Artist's Handbook" to look more at what an architect does. The site examines the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of many architects around the world and throughout history who have shaped the spaces we live in. Today, every new design is built on a foundation of architectural knowledge and design skills. In the Architect's Handbook, you can get inside an architect's head to learn how he or she sees the world. Or explore houses from around the world and see how they were designed for people and place. There's a unique design for every situation!

Go to the following link to learn more about what an Architect does.

The Assignment: 

Using the following link to the site, answer the questions below. Sketch examples to the best of your ability from this site.

Architectural Symbols - What are these? Why is it important that they are standard globally?

The Client - Explain your role as the architect and the importance of understanding what the client's needs are.

The Door - Why is the door significant? What does it provide? What are some differences you notice when examining the examples?

The Exterior - Why do architects carefully selected exterior materials? What considerations do they have to make? 

Interior Design - What are 3 key things architects need to examine when looking at Interior Design? 

Interior Space - What does this term mean? What are 2 examples you need to consider when designing?

Landscaping - How can landscaping help to make a site more beautiful?

Proportion - What is proportion? How do architects take proportion into consideration when designing a room? 
What are 2 examples of considerations you must make when designing rooms? 

Roof - Why would the shape of the roof depend on the environment?

Scale - What is scale? How do architects use scale when making plans? How would we measure in Canada?

Site - What is a site? Why do architects need to think about the landscapes and views of a site? 
In Regina what landscapes or views would you want to consider?

Standard Sizes - What does it mean to have standard sizes? What client needs do architects need to consider when looking at standard sizes? What are 4 examples of standard sizes as given on this site?

Types of Drawings - Explain 2 reasons architects have different types of drawings for a building. Give an example and explain 4 different types of drawings. 

Wall - Explain the different functions of walls, their different shapes and materials that can be used.

Window - Explain 3 things you need to consider when adding windows. What is their function? What client needs will you need to consider when creating windows?



How does location (or geography) and lifestyle impact the type of dwelling that a cultural group will use?

The following is an exhibit at the Royal Saskatchewan museum that shows a typical tipi encampment roughly 300 years ago.


Teepees or Tipis provided a comfortable and portable home year-round. In the summer, people camped on the open plains to hunt bison and collect plants. At designated times, as many as 200 families would gather together for ceremonies or large communal bison hunts. In the winter, people moved into valleys or wooded areas where they were sheltered from the wind and had lots of firewood.

Typical Tipi Encampment
The tipi is the quintessential symbol of First Nations who live on the plains. But did you know that each part of the tipi symbolizes a moral principle? These principles, such as respect, humility, faith, and sharing, that must be followed if the family and society are to live together in harmony.
Camping on the open plains

Tipi Symbols
How old is the tipi? We don't know for certain, but some stone circles that once held down the edges of tipis are as old as 6000 years.
Tipi Stone Circles
Canada contained five broad cultural regions, defined by common climatic, geographical and ecological characteristics. Each region had distinctive building forms which reflected these conditions, as well as the available building materials, means of livelihood (way to provide for the family), and social and spiritual values of the resident peoples.

A striking feature of all First Nations architecture was the connection between structural forms and cultural values. The WIGWAM, TIPI and snow house (or IGLOO) were highly evolved building-forms perfectly suited to their environments and to the requirements of hunting and gathering cultures. The LONGHOUSE, pit house and plank house were reflected the need for more permanent building forms, and showed the lifestyle of the First Nations people that used them.



Canada's First Nations people showed genius in their adaptation of available materials for building purposes. As in most other cultures, the first building material was wood in its various forms, from saplings for structure to bark and leaves for finish materials. Stones were used on foundations. Saplings were used as main support beams because they were more pliable than large tree trunks and took less time to cut and place. Sod and snow were used both as complete building systems and as finish materials. As hunter-gatherers they had a large supply of animal skins and large bones that were also used.

The Assignment:

A. First Nations’ Architecture and Dwellings

Let’s first look at the dwellings of First Nations people here in Saskatchewan and in Canada. How did lifestyle impact the dwelling or home that First Nations people used around 150 years ago? Why did the people of this culture use this type of building? What materials did they use? Why were these materials chosen? Go to following site to explore First Nations’ Architecture in Canada and answer these questions… plus many more that you may have!

1. What’s the difference between a wigwam and a teepee?

2. What type of dwelling would have been built for the People of Plains (around Regina and south)? Why do you think this?

3. Why did the Plains People use these types of materials?

4. What made these materials appropriate for these types of homes?

5. Examine the Longhouse of Kanata (located in Ontario). How do the materials reflect the needs of the people? (search longhouse on the site)

6. Examine the Haida house on the website below. How do materials reflect the needs of the people? Reference:

7. How do the materials used in all the Traditional First Nations' dwellings reflect sustainable architecture

B. Dwellings Around the World…

Choose 5 of the dwellings from the architectstudio3d website (see link below) and explain how the dwelling reflects the climate and geography of the location where it is situated. Explain how the materials used reflect the location. Be sure to also explain what "grabs your attention" about this dwelling.

Go to the link below to see some examples of how dwellings all over the world are creatively designed to meet the needs of people and place.



(This presentation was made to K-12 teachers looking to instruct their students about how the world of Architecture and Engineering is all around them.)

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