The Alternatives unit of our history and theory of design class revolved around extending past the basic principles of design that we learned about in the theories and foundations unit. From the central principles of design such as commodity, firmness, and delight, the alternatives unit dove straight into applying those fundamentals to design as it changed throughout history.
As Christianity spread across Italy and become the major religious force, the church setting became a very important aspect of the designs that originated in that era. Monastic churches began to be constructed far away from urban spaces and stood as a basis for how churches were shaped. People were concerned about the world coming to and end in the year 1,000, so they began to become more involved in their religion, which called for more churches. The central theme of millennial observations was that everything that still existed on earth descended into Hell when the world ended.
Romanesque architecture became an imperative part of the time as well. Romanesque, meaning “in the manner of Rome,” held Roman architectural ideals such as their ever-famous column details, pilasters, arches, and rose windows. The oculus tended to not face heaven, but opens to a civic space. Elaboration at the head of the church was another important ideal in building and creating these massive Romanesque churches. Families, who in turn, were granted indulgence, sponsored the series of chapels. Their ticket to heaven was hypothetically guaranteed. The façade was and is the most important part of the cathedrals. It was meant to appear bigger and more magnificent, making the structure itself take on these qualities as well.
Geometry played a large role in the design and construction of these cathedrals. They influenced the platonic clarity and beauty of the structures as well as the interlocking theme of a transformed classical order. The renaissance played a large role in influencing the designs of the cathedrals. Though the principles were present before the renaissance, they started to be written down and heavily considered. During this time, people were obsessed with order, and with order came the geometry that was so imperative in the designs of the cathedrals.
As we moved to Venice, we noticed in class, that the gothic architecture, forms, and motifs tended to be quite a bit more organic. Venice is known as the city of floating stone. The stone that most of the buildings were constructed from gives it a simplistic look in a way as well as allowing it to compliment well with the large amounts of water throughout the city.
By looking at several different examples across Venice and Spain, we were able to deduce that water is used in a variety of ways. It transforms light and makes it dapple as well as helping to extend the distance and make a space look much larger. The king’s desire was to know that his kingdom was large and vast, and by having many water features, the designers were able to get that illusion across. A hall of mirrors was also used for the same effect.
I found the alternatives unit of our history and theory of design class a useful and memorable one. It aided my sight of how the basic principles of design were applied to the designs and cathedrals throughout the renaissance and gothic eras, as well as how they developed over that time period. The millennial observation was an interesting concept to see how the design reflected human nature and the thoughtfulness of geometry in relation to those designs.