Steps for this Assignment:
Select an architectural work from the architectural works displayed in the assignment folder for this assignment. You will be examining your selected piece in terms of both its Form and Function.
1. Form – Provide a formal analysis of this piece using material presented in class on the formal elements of architectural design (this is your own analysis of this work and should not be based on someone else’s analysis that you may have found while conducting research). Your analysis of Form should include the following:
Identify sensory elements in the work such as lines, shapes, and colors.
Examine the formal elements of architectural design present such as pattern and repetition, rhythm, symmetry and asymmetry, balance, contrast, proportion and scale, theme and variation, and coherence and unity in variety. Look at how each of these elements is or is not present in your selected work (explain how each of the elements is present or absent in this work). See the list of elements and definitions for each below.
Elements of Architectural Design:
Pattern and Repetition
Symmetry and Asymmetry
Proportion and Scale
Theme and Variation
Coherence and Unity in Variety
Elements of Architectural Design (Definition):
Balance – Is the characteristic of equal weights opposing one another. In art, we say that a composition is balanced if the shapes on one side of a center line appear to have the same weight as those on opposite sides. Buildings can be balanced whether they are symmetrical or asymmetrical as long as they maintain a sense of equal, visual weight on either side of a center line drawn through the façade.
Contrast – There is contrast when two adjacent parts are very different from one another. In architecture, we speak about such things as materials that have contrasting colors and textures. We may also mean the relationship of highlights and shadows. When contrasting materials are placed together, one seems to move to the front of your line of vision. Architects use contrast to add visual variety to their designs.
Pattern and Repetition – When lines and shapes are repeated, they create a pattern. Patterns can be regular or irregular, however, architects try to repeat elements of design in a regular manner. In architecture, patterns can be found in the way bricks are laid, in repeated shapes of windows, and in decorative wood or stone trim.
Rhythm – There are rhythmic patterns which give a dynamic quality to a building, making it appear lively. It is very apparent in rows of columns or repeated arches. Such patterns carry our eye across the façade of the structure and add visual excitement to its large form.
Symmetry – When there is correspondence in size or shape of parts on either side of a bisected whole we say it is symmetrical. A good starting point for understanding symmetry might be to look in the mirror and imagine a line drawn down the center of your body. You are fairly symmetrical with correspondence between your eyes, ears, arms and legs, thus a symmetrical building has the same shapes on either side of an imaginary line drawn down the middle of its façade.
Asymmetry – A building is considered asymmetrical when different shapes are placed on either side of a bisecting line.
Proportion – Is the term used to describe the relationship between two things of a different size. In architecture we are looking for the proportional relationship between spaces and the size of the human body. The proportion of a room can greatly affect the way a person feels within a space.
When we are referring to a building we often refer to this kind of proportion as scale. Ordinarily, an architect tries to design a space so that people feel comfortable moving about in it. For that reason, a bedroom may have a much lower ceiling than an auditorium, which will house a large number of people.
Sometimes a building is designed so a space is purposely out of proportion to human scale. An example of this would be the towering spaces inside cathedrals that humbles the way worshippers feel in relation to the greater place of God.
Architects deliberately design spaces with changing scale by varying the heights of ceilings and sizes of rooms. This makes the occupants’ movement through the space more dynamic.
Theme and Variation – A theme is a dominant feature of a work of art that is carried throughout the piece. A variation is a change in the dominant elements, where the main idea still recognizable. An architect may design a building using a historical theme such as a Classical building with columns, domes and pediments, or make reference to the architecture of another culture.
Coherence and Unity in Variety – A work of art has coherence when its elements are used together in a logical and systematic manner. In architecture, a variety of elements are used to add interest to a design, however the architect tries to tie these together to make the work cohesive.
Note: Many feel, that the most pleasing architectural designs have an elegant system of repeated elements that give unity to the overall structure.
2. Function – Research the building’s history to determine its function, both past and present (what purpose does this building serve and/or has served, i.e. is it a cathedral or church used for worship, a government building, an opera house, etc.) Provide as many details about its function as you can.