Friday, May 27, 2011

LE CORBUSIER QUOTES

  • ‘A house is a machine for living in’

  • ‘Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Our eyes are made to see forms in light; light and shade reveal these forms; cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders or pyramids are the great primary forms which light reveals to advantage; the image of these is distinct and tangible within us without ambiguity. It is for this reason that these are beautiful forms, the most beautiful forms.’

  • ‘Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in light.’

  • ‘I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster and leaves less room for lies.’

  • ‘Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.’

  • ‘To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.’

  • ‘The styles are a lie.’

  • ‘The object of this edict is to enlighten the present and future citizens of Chandigarh about the basic concepts of planning of the city so that they become its guardians and save it from whimsof individuals.’

  • ‘The city of Chandigarh is planned to human scale. It puts us in touch with the infinite cosmos and nature. It provides us with the places and buildings for all human activities by which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life. Here the radiance of nature and heart are within our reach.’


  • ‘A ramp provides gradual ascent from the pilotis, creating totally different sensations than those felt when climbing stairs. A staircase separates one floor from another: a ramp links them together.’

  • ‘You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these three materials you build houses and palaces. That is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly, you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: 'This is beautiful.' That is architecture. Art enters in. My house is practical. I thank you as I might thank Railway engineers, or the Telephone service. You have not touched my heart.
    But suppose that walls rise toward heaven in such a way that I am moved. I perceive your intentions. Your mood has been gentle, brutal, charming, or noble. The stones you have erected tell me so. You fix me to the place and my eyes regard it. They behold something which expresses a thought. A thought which reveals itself without word or sound, but solely by means of shapes which stand in a certain relationship to one another. These shapes are such that they are clearly revealed in light. The relationships between them have not necessarily any reference to what is practical or descriptive. They are a mathematical creation of your mind. They are the language of Architecture. By the use of raw materials and starting from conditions more or less utilitarian, you have established certain relationships which have aroused my emotions. This is Architecture.’

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT QUOTES

  • ‘An architect’s most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board and a wrecking bar at the site.’

  • ‘An idea is salvation by imagination.’

  • ‘Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.’

  • ‘Get the habit of analysis – analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind.’

  • ‘I believe in God, only I spell it Nature’

  • ‘Mechanization best serves mediocrity.’

  • ‘Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature everyday for inspiration in the day’s work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.’

  • ‘No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.’

  • ‘No stream rises higher than its source. Whatever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built.’

  • ‘Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders’ spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground.’

  • ‘Regard it just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.’

  • ‘Space is the breath of art.’

  • ‘Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.’

  • ‘The architect must be a prophet...a prophet in the true sense of the term...if he can’t see atleast ten years ahead don’t call him an architect.’

  • ‘ “Think simple” as my old master used to say – meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.’

  • ‘The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.’

  • ‘As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital ‘S’ – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.’

  • ‘I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.’

  • ‘Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.’

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LOUIS KAHN QUOTES

  • ‘All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow and the shadow belongs to Light’

  • ‘A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.’

  • ‘Consider the momentous event in architecture when the wall parted and the column became.’

  • ‘The nature of space reflects what it wants to be.’

  • ‘The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.’

  • ‘To express is to drive. And when you want to give something presence, you have to consult nature. And there is where Design comes in. And if you think of Brick, for instance, and you say to Brick, ‘What do you want Brick?’ And Brick says to you ‘I like an Arch.’ And if you say to Brick ‘Look, arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete lintel over you. What do you think of that?’ ‘Brick says:’...I like an Arch.’


  • ‘A city is a place where a small boy, as he walks through it, may see something that will tell him what he wants to do his whole life.’

  • ‘One might feel that only persons who are in flight from themselves, who need plaster and wall paper for their emotional security, can be uncomfortable in this building...In its spaces there is no room for the interior decorator.’ – Kahn on Yale Art Gallery.

  • ‘Architectural interpretations accepted without reflection could obscure the search for signs of a true nature and a higher order.’

  • ‘The school and the dormitories are a unit, like a monastery. Corridors are avoided by having deep porches, off all the dormitory rooms, where tea is served and things are discussed. The school is around a court which has in it an amphitheatre. Everything here is planned around the idea of meeting.’ – Kahn on IIM – Ahmedabad.


PREPARATION OF AN ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO

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Friday, May 20, 2011

MOSHE SAFDIE - KHALSA HERITAGE COMPLEX

The Khalsa Heritage Complex has been conceived as a heritage museum covering 6500 square meters with multimedia and state of the art communication facilities, which act as a setting for unfolding the drama of the Sikh heritage. This complex is the brainchild of Punjab's cheif minister Mr.Prakash Singh Badal, who was inspired by the Jewish Museum built by Moshe Safdie in Jerusalem and invited him to design the museum in Punjab. For the Sikhs, this complex would serve as a reaffirmation of roots. For the non-Sikh, it will be an inspiring journey into a spirited culture, providing a fascinating insight into Sikhism.

Situated at the foothills of the Shivalik range at Anandpur Shib in Punjab, the site is on a plateau formed by a series of sand cliffs facing a small ravine. It consists of well pronounced ridges and valleys with varying degrees of slopes and existing natural water courses for draining the area.
 


The entire complex is conceived as two spaces, one on the east and another on the west. The western complex forms the gateway for the town and houses exhibition galleries, archives, audio-visual resources, libraries as well as a 400-seater auditorium.

The eastern complex is accessed through a pedestrian bridge. The eastern complex houses the Khalsa Heritage Museum, which houses the permanent exhibition gallery on 500 years of Sikh heritage. The two complexes are separated by a series of reflecting pools which create a 7 acre water body, which floods the valley into a series of water gardens and link it to the fort and to the town. Arcaded walkways & gardens on either side gently cascade towards the water body. All the building exteriors are clad with yellow Gwalior sandstone over concrete walls. The main museum comprises of a series of sandstone clad structures, some curves, some triangular and some rectangular in shape that rise from the cliff faces becoming extensions of the sand cliffs. The roofs of these spaces are formed of concave shaped concrete slabs clad with stainless steel cladding which reflect the sky. The roofs are facing the south and reflect light towards the temple. When one approaches from the north, the entire complex is set as a series of masonry structures rising up from the hills, evoking the tradition of the fortress.






From Moshe Sadfie's Sketchbook


Get your copy of Moshe Safdie here
Learn more about 'Architecture in India since 1990' here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RAMMED EARTH CONSTRUCTION

Rammed earth is one of the most common methods of earth construction practised worldwide. The basic process consists of mixing the earth with water to get a homogenous plastic mix, which is then poured into a formwork for the wall and is rammed and compacted. The ramming is done traditional using hand with a wooden or metal ramrod but modern pneumatic rammers are also present. Due to the ramming, the density increases and also the compressive strength and the water resistance. The life of rammed earth walls is usually long and they can carry heavy floor and roof slabs, as evident from the many still standing ancient structures around the world.

Verite, Auroville




Verite, Auroville


Ideally, the soil used for rammed earth construction should be sandy or gravelly.  The soil should be of uniform composition and should be sieved properly to remove unnecessary lumps. Sometimes stabilisers are added to the soil, which vary from lime, pig’s urine or even the milk of cacti. Modern stabilisers like lime and cement are also used nowadays. Mixing cement with the soil mixture can also increase the structure’s load bearing capacity, but is to be used only in clay-poor mixtures.
The most common type of formwork used for the construction of a wall is the horizontal type. Sometimes vertical formworks are also used. The horizontal formwork consists of 2 wooden planks of wood held together firmly by means of metal ties or bolts. The humid soil is then poured into the forms to get a course of around 12-15cm thickness. The soil is then first rammed along the sides of the panels and the central portion of the wall is rammed.  Once this course is completed, similarly the other courses are also done in the same way. The formwork is immediately removed and shifted sideways in the case of the horizontal technique and repeated until the whole plan is completed. The two planks are then raised up and a second course of rammed earth is repeated over the first and it goes on till the whole wall is completed. It is best to follow a bonding pattern as used in brickwork, so that the vertical joints between one rammed section and the next are not vertically one above the other. Otherwise, these vertical joints can later turn into one large vertical crack.
One of the benefits of rammed earth is its excellent thermal mass. Rammed earth walls are termite resistant, fireproof and ultimately bio-degradable. The rammed earth structures have low embodied energy and generate very little waste.





F.L.WRIGHT'S BUILDINGS - ROBIE HOUSE

Robie House built by F.L.Wright between 1908 and 1910 is one of the best examples of the Prairie Style developed by Wright – almost the quintessential Prairie House and also one of the last. The house is offset from the street in the form of a series of horizontal overlapping planes in an asymmetrical composition.
Wright emphasised the horizontality by using projecting cantilevered roof eaves, continuous bands of windows, sheltered terraces, long window sills etc. From the balconies the inhabitants can look out into the open landscape, while it was not possible to see inside from the exterior due to the placement of the balconies above the ground. Thus, a sense of shelter and privacy was created for the inhabitants while at the same time maintaining a visual connect with the landscape. The exterior of the house is in exposed Roman brick, with Wright emphasising the horizontality further by having the horizontal bed mortar joints in cream coloured mortar and the vertical joints in brick coloured mortar.




 
The interiors of the house are in the form of 2 long and narrow rectangular ‘vessels’, set on top and slightly off-center of the other. The house is in 3 separate levels with a game room and billiards room along with all the utilities. The second level consists of the living and dining rooms with the kitchen and the servants’ quarters. The third level consists of the bedrooms. The interior spaces are unobstructed and flow from one space to another. The interiors are bathed in light because of the continuous windows, the diffused light creating a very comfortable ambience inside.
The chimney with the fireplaces is located at the centre, around which all activities unfold. It is also made of the same materials as the exterior of the house. The mass and solidity of the chimney anchors the house into the ground. It also plays a major role in balancing the asymmetrical proportions of the house.










ALL DRAWINGS COURTESY - HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY.

Wright designed all the interior furnishings and fittings inside the house, from the floor rugs to the furniture to the hemispherical light fittings. This followed Wright’s strong belief that all the components of a house are to be designed as an integrated whole to create a wholesome environment. The Prairie houses are known for the art windows which Wright designed, using his favourite 30 and 60 degree angles to create abstract geometrical forms. Till this day, the Robie House remains one of the best residential designs.

VIDEOS OF ROBIE HOUSE IN YOUTUBE -

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plAjz9phId0&feature=channel

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E9N7x9L58A

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXNL1XhItmg&feature=related

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

EARTH ARCHITECTURE – AN INTRODUCTION

40% of the world population lives in earthen dwellings.
For centuries, man has used earth as a raw material for construction of his shelters, refining it to suit local climate and topography. This refinement over the years has developed various technologies in earth construction, most of which are based on common sense and trial and error approach. Earth construction is sustainable, not affecting nature and also allowed ordinary people to build their own homes without depending on master craftsman.
Today, with the advent of technology, earth as a raw material has been replaced by concrete and cement; materials which are energy intensive and unsustainable. Moreover, the arrival of the ‘International style’ in the previous century has led to the creation of monotone flat boxes throughout our cities and even villages, thereby deviating away from the beautiful vernacular architecture in earth.
The challenge before us today is how to build with earth on a larger scale, while respecting Nature.
There is a lot of renewed interest in earth among architects and related professionals. The challenge is to convert this interest into a solid movement, spreading the technological knowledge on earth construction and implementing projects using earth. Internationally, Ar.Hasan Fathy has done a lot of commendable work in Egypt using earth. At the forefront of the earth architecture in India is Ar.Satprem Maine, practising in Auroville. His work of over a couple of decades with earth is recognised the world over, covering projects from schools, residences, community centres, apartments, housing projects etc.
Most of the data on this series on earth architecture in based on Ar.Satprem’s work and obtained from his website. More details can be obtained directly from the website of Auroville Earth Institute – www.earth-auroville.com


IS A SMALLER FIRM BETTER OR A LARGER FIRM BETTER FOR TRAINING?

This is one of the questions that all architectural students face at one time or the other while deciding on a suitable place for training. It is also a very important question as the type and exposure received during the training will play an important role in developing the individual. So here are a few thoughts on the same –
 ADVANTAGES OF SMALLER FIRMS
  • The trainees usually have direct access to the chief architect. Will be able to observe closely how he works, which is one of the real purposes of training.
  • Will be given more responsibilities in the office.
  • Will be more involved in the design process, discussions etc and may even be given projects to handle.
  • Will get a detailed idea of running an office, including administration, accounts keeping etc
  • Trainees will have to do the drafting most often, which is good for the trainees, as they will be able to better understand design and detailing
  • Trainees will have opportunity of interacting more with service consultants, structural consultants etc, hence gaining additional exposure
  • There are more chances of being asked to work in the same office after graduation, if the trainee does good work
  • Sometimes, trainees will get the opportunity to interact directly with the clients
ADVANTAGES OF LARGER FIRMS
  • Will be exposed to larger scale of projects
  • Often there will be thorough procedures and systems of work in place, which may be a lot more professional
  • Larger firms tend to be better organised in terms of dedicated material libraries, databanks, resources etc
  • Larger firms tend to stress more on presentation techniques. Will get more exposure to latest techniques of presentation, detailed 3D making etc.
  • Larger firms tend to handle a lot more projects at a given time. Trainees will be able to understand effective delegation of work
  • Larger firms tend to work for architectural competitions which can be interesting for the trainees.
DISADVANTAGES OF SMALLER FIRMS
  • Some of the smaller firms tend to be more informal set ups and may not be professional enough
  • May not have dedicated material libraries, resource banks etc
  • Scale of work tends to be smaller to medium size projects
  • Some of the firms may not get involved in architectural competitions
  • Stipend may be less

DISADVANTAGES OF LARGER FIRMS
  • Trainees might not get opportunity to interact with the chief architect, hence reducing the exposure to their thinking & philosophy
  • Site exposure may be limited
  • May not get adequate interaction with other consultants
  • Level of responsibilities may be less
  • Trainees may not get a good idea of the administrative functions, accounts etc.

Ultimately, there is no one type of office that is best. It all depends on what the individual trainee wants, what kind of exposure he is looking for. Thus, it is important to first decide on what an individual wants from the training period. Once that is clear, look for firms which suit your purposes. Always do detailed research early and finalise on your training place.




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PREPARATION OF AN ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO

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PHILOSOPHIES OF F.L.WRIGHT - THE PRAIRIE HOUSE

THE PRAIRIE HOUSE –
‘The horizontal line is the line of domesticity’
After Wright’s Sullivan years he started practising on his own and based his practice around the Oak Park area where he built a number of houses. It was during this period that he was consumed by a search for a new language in design of homes. The prevailing concepts, heavily borrowing from European designs with claustrophobic rooms and ornate ornamentation led Wright to come up with an entirely new concept of residential design. By 1901, he had refined and crystallised his ideas and published it in the February edition of the Ladies Home Journal as ‘A Home in a Prairie Town’. This remarkable concept showed houses with overhanging shady roofs, horizontal suspended terraces and balconies, bands of windows and free flowing interiors – a total deviation from all existing typologies.

The inspiration for the design was the mid-western Prairie landscape. The single most predominant feature of the prairie is its flatness and endless horizon. Wright based his concept of the Prairie House on this theme of horizontality. He emphasised the horizontal lines in his design over the verticals, through long horizontal cantilevered roof planes, terraces, bands of windows etc, thereby properly grounding his buildings in the prairie. Yet he had the artist’s eye for composition, proportion & balance, often juxtaposing the volumes and also by accentuating the chimney to create an asymmetrical balance.

‘The prairie has a beauty of its own and we should recognise and accentuate this natural beauty, its quiet level. Hence, gently sloping roofs, low proportions, quiet sky lines, suppressed heavy-set chimneys.’ – FLW (1908)
Wright also elevated the living spaces of his Prairie houses so that it offered the inhabitants a sense of enclosure and protection from the elements, while at the same time offering them unobstructed views to the horizon. The interiors too were remarkable in that there were no rigid demarcated rooms. Instead, the Prairie house had an open plan with spaces flowing into each other. The formal rooms were dissolved into free-flowing living spaces – Wright was committed to destroying the ‘box’ in architecture. The major spaces were centered around the massive fireplace, which Wright believed was the centre of any family.

Hildebrand’s book, ‘The Wright Space – Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Houses’ (1991) classifies the common elements of all Prairie Houses –
·         The major spaces are elevated well above the terrain they overlook – giving a sense of shelter
·         The fireplace is withdrawn to the centre of the house and to the internal edge of the room it serves
·         Its withdrawal is emphasised by a low ceiling edge and flanking built-in seating and cabinet-work.
·         The ceiling forward of the fireplace sweeps upwards into the roof, echoing its form
·         Glass & glazed doors are located on walls distant from the fire.
·         A generous elevated terrace lies beyond
·         The exterior consists of deep overhanging eaves, an evident central chimney, broad horizontal groupings of window bands and conspicuous balconies or terraces
·         The connection from exterior to interior is by means of a long and circuitous path.

The prairie houses seized the imagination of the American public, especially the lay people, which is evidence by the large number of houses built. He designed hundreds of houses based on this concept, of which, over 120 were built. His clients simply loved their homes, even returning back for more commissions. Thus the Prairie Houses marked a major shift in residential design.

LAURIE BAKER'S CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (CDS), TRIVANDRUM

The campus for the research institute, Centre for Development Studies, is one of Laurie Baker’s best campus designs, located in a residential area on the northern outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. The 10 acre campus stretching across a heavily wooded site houses the Library, Computer centre, Auditorium, hostels, guesthouses and residential units for the staff. 

The design is a response to the sloping contoured site and seems to grow out of it. There is hardly a straight line with each structure curling in waves, semicircles and arcs. Baker pays careful attention to the contours on the site and also the location of trees. The forms of the buildings also follow the site with curved walls and building forms along the contour. Often, when trees are obstructing the building, Baker simply moulds his walls around the trees so as not to disturb it. There are little courtyards in between buildings, often acting as an extension of the building itself and also pools of water which help in microclimatic control through evaporative cooling. The roofs had often interesting shapes with funny openings at certain location. These openings were Baker’s interpretation of the gables which were tilted into the wind direction funnelling it into the space.
The main administrative building is the focus of the campus, with the 6 storey circular library tower behind. The main entrance is majestic, sloping up towards the sky with the side walls welcomingly sloping outwards towards a wide set of steps. Baker has symbolically not provided a front door. The building is totally open, symbolic of an institution whose aim is to promote research into helping the poor. The library tower is a circular tower with an external jaali wall which encloses a circular staircase in the centre. The staircase winds around a circular shaft which runs from the bottom level all the way till the top. Baker has used this shaft to provide forced ventilation inside the spaces. There are small openings in this shaft at each floor level. The air is forced through these openings and escapes through the open top of the shaft, maintaining a good flow all around. This shaft is based on the simple principle of Stack effect. The perforated jaali wall on the external side allows plenty of diffused natural light inside and creates a beautiful ambience for reading.




The language is typically that of Baker, his interpretation of a vocabulary unique to Kerala. Exposed brick walls in beautiful patterns and bonds, exposed concrete sloping roofs with filler slabs of mangalore tiles forming beautiful patterns and jaalis in the brick walls of numerous designs creating amazing patterns of light and shade inside the buildings while at the same time letting in wind and light. The plinths of the buildings are all of exposed random rubble granite, the white contrasting with the red of the brick. Baker has used lime mortar for his walls, making the lime in the site itself by burning sea shells (from the beach a few miles away) and grinding it. The flooring is in red oxide which imparts a cool comfortable base to walk on while complementing the earthy materials of the walls and the roof. There are external pavements in concrete, inset with granite aggregates in the shape of flowers and leafs. Baker often gave freedom to the masons and the workers to experiment and play and bring out their creativity.






To keep the interiors of the computer building cool, Baker has devised the imaginative use of a false external jaali screen wall which acts as a skin. The air trapped in between acts as insulation and keeps the interiors cool. All the buildings in the campus are climatically so efficient that even fans are not required. The interiors are cool and comfortable.
Baker’s architecture is more than just the materials and cost effectiveness. He plays with spaces, light and shadows, creating comfortable spaces.






PREPARATION OF AN ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO

I have been receiving a lot of requests from students for details on HOW TO PREPARE A GOOD ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO. 

Taking this into consideration, I have compiled a detailed booklet on how to create a great portfolio, which will guide you through the detailed process, including identification of materials, ideal layouts, graphics and rendering styles, text placements, photographing your models....an exhaustive list which will guide you step by step.

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