Architectural history essays


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The civic and town planning and engineering aspects of these are remarkable, but the design of the buildings is "of a startling utilitarian character". There are granaries , drains, water-courses and tanks, but neither palaces nor temples have been identified, though cities have a central raised and fortified "citadel". Architectural decoration is extremely minimal, though there are "narrow pointed niches" inside some buildings.

Most of the art found is in miniature forms like seals, and mainly in terracotta , but there are a very few larger sculptures of figures. In most sites fired mud-brick not sun-baked as in Mesopotamia is used exclusively as the building material, but a few such as Dholavira are in stone. Most houses have two storeys, and very uniform sizes and plans.

The large cities declined relatively quickly, for unknown reasons, leaving a less sophisticated village culture behind. After the Indus Valley Civilization, there are few traces of Indian architecture, which probably mostly used wood, or brick which has been recycled, until around the time of the Maurya Empire , from to BCE. From this period for several centuries onwards, much the best remains are of Indian rock-cut architecture , mostly Buddhist, and there are also a number of Buddhist images that give very useful information. Buddhist construction of monastic buildings apparently begins before the death of Buddha , probably around BCE.

Walled and moated cities with large gates and multi-storied buildings which consistently used chaitya arches, no doubt in wood, for roofs and upper structures above more solid storeys are important features of the architecture during this period. These views of ancient Indian cities have been relied on for the understanding of ancient Indian urban architecture. In the case of the Mauryan capital Pataliputra near Patna , we have Greek accounts, and that of Faxian ; Megasthenes a visitor around BCE mentions towers and 64 gates in the city walls. Modern excavations have uncovered a "massive palisade of teak beams held together with iron dowels ".

In both these cases a now-vanished Indian predecessor tradition in wood is likely. Such a tradition is extremely clear in the case of the earliest-known examples of rock-cut architecture , the state-sponsored Barabar caves in Bihar , personally dedicated by Ashoka circa BCE. The entrance of the Lomas Rishi Cave there has a sculpted doorway that clearly copies a wooden style in stone, which is a recurrent feature of rock-cut caves for some time. These artificial caves exhibit an amazing level of technical proficiency, the extremely hard granite rock being cut in geometrical fashion and given the Mauryan polish , also found on sculpture.

The elaborately decorated facades and "chaitya halls" of many rock-cut sites are believed to reflect vanished free-standing buildings elsewhere. The dome shaped stupa was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. Illustration of the stupa built by Asoka at Bodh Gaya , on the location of the later Mahabodhi Temple.

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Sculpture of the Satavahana period at Sanchi , 1st century CE. The Buddhist stupa , a dome shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. Rock-cut stepwells in India date from — CE. A very important development, the emergence of the shikara or temple tower, is today best evidenced by the Buddhist Mahabodhi Temple.

This was already several centuries old when the first very vertical structure replaced an Ashokan original, apparently around CE. The current brick-built tower, probably a good deal larger, dates to the Gupta period, in the 5th or 6th centuries. The basic elements of the Hindu temple remain the same across all periods and styles. The most essential feature is the inner sanctuary, the garbha griha or womb-chamber, where the primary Murti or cult image of a deity is housed in a simple bare cell. Around this chamber there are often other structures and buildings, in the largest cases covering several acres.

On the exterior, the garbhagriha is crowned by a tower-like shikhara , also called the vimana in the south. There may be further shrines or other buildings, connected or detached, in large temples, together with other small temples in the compound. Large areas of the structure are often decorated with carving, including figurative images of deities and other religious figures. Beyond these basic but crucial similarities, the visible stylistic forms of the temple vary greatly and have a very complicated development.

By about the 7th century CE most main features of the Hindu temple were established along with theoretical texts on temple architecture and building methods.

For most modern writers, nagara refers to north Indian styles, most easily recognised by a high and curving shikhara over the sanctuary, dravida or Dravidian architecture is the broad South Indian style, where the superstructure over the sanctuary is not usually extremely high, and has a straight profile, rising in series of terraces to form a sort of decorated pyramid today often dwarfed in larger temples by the far larger gopuram outer gateways, a much later development.

These come from the Deccan and other fairly central parts of India. There is some disagreement among those who use the term, as to the exact period and styles it represents, and other writers prefer to avoid it; temples some describe as vesara are mostly assigned to the northern tradition by those, but are regarded as a kind of northern dravida by others. There are hardly any remains of Hindu temples before the Gupta dynasty in the 4th century CE; no doubt there were earlier structures in timber-based architecture.

The rock-cut Udayagiri Caves are among the most important early sites. However, there is inscriptional evidence such as the ancient Gangadhara inscription from about CE, states Meister, that towering temples existed before this time and these were possibly made from more perishable material. These temples have not survived. No pre-7th century CE South Indian style stone temples have survived. Examples of early major South Indian temples that have survived, some in ruins, include the diverse styles at Mahabalipuram , from the 7th and 8th centuries.

However, according to Meister, the Mahabalipuram temples are "monolithic models of a variety of formal structures all of which already can be said to typify a developed "Dravida" South Indian order". They suggest a tradition and a knowledge base existed in South India by the time of the early Chalukya and Pallava era when these were built.

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Other examples are found in Aihole and Pattadakal. From between about the 7th and 13th centuries a large number of temples and their ruins have survived though far fewer than once existed. Many regional styles developed, very often following political divisions, as large temples were typically built with royal patronage. In the north, Muslim invasions from the 11th century onwards reduced the building of temples, and saw the loss of many existing ones. During this period, the distinctive very tall gopuram gatehouse actually a late development, from the 12th century or later, typically added to older large temples.

The external walls of the temple are segmented by pilasters and carry niches housing sculpture. Each story is delineated by a parapet of miniature shrines, square at the corners and rectangular with barrel-vault roofs at the centre. North Indian temples showed increased elevation of the wall and elaborate spire by the 10th century.

Two varieties of these are called sekhari , where the sub-spires extend vertically, and bhumija , where individual sub-spires are arrayed in rows and columns.

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Richly decorated temples—including the complex at Khajuraho —were constructed in Central India. Styles called vesara include the early Badami Chalukya Architecture , Western Chalukya architecture , and finally Hoysala architecture. Hoysala architecture is the distinctive building style developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire in the region historically known as Karnata , today's Karnataka , India, between the 11th and the 14th centuries.

Other examples of fine Hoysala craftmanship are the temples at Belavadi , Amrithapura , and Nuggehalli. Study of the Hoysala architectural style has revealed a negligible Indo-Aryan influence while the impact of Southern Indian style is more distinct. Vijayanagara architecture of the period — CE was a notable building style evolved by the Vijayanagar empire that ruled most of South India from their capital at Vijayanagara on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in present-day Karnataka.

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The complex consists of Qutb Minar , a brick minaret commissioned by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak , as well as other monuments built by successive Delhi Sultans. Significant regional styles developed in the independent sultanates formed when the Tughlaq empire weakened in the midth century, and lasted until most were absorbed into the Mughal Empire in the 16th century.

Essays have a way of sparking critical disciplines around themselves. They explore a ground that is to some extent unmapped, and in so doing, they sometimes imply new fields of thought. Likelier than not, the architectural canon bracketed by these commonplace dates begins not with a building but with an essay. Such a piece had to be written not from a position of experience and authority, exactly—and these were two things this Jesuit priest had little of where buildings were concerned—but rather as a heartfelt missive from an author who wanted to expand the question of architectural opinion beyond the confines of what was generally agreed to be the knowledge of the preceding centuries.

But his replacement of the treatise with the argumentative essay also marks an important turn in the discursive construction of the field that we call architecture.

Why We Should Value our Brutalist Architectural History - Shaun Carter - TEDxSydneySalon

If buildings are indeed the stuff of architectural history, essays illuminate our changing understanding of those buildings. The history of architectural ideas is a history of essays as much as a history of artifacts. But all essays are necessarily partial, and this one will turn instead to a moment when the political potential of the essay form gained a newfound importance, as industrialization and social change were effecting radical transformations on the modern metropolis.

One might even argue the inverse, that the genre of the essay—in its structural aspects and its intellectual lineage—in some sense demanded the rise of critical theory, being a form of thought uniquely suited to a certain form of writing. Instead of achieving something scientifically, or creating something artistically, the effort of the essay reflects a childlike freedom that catches fire, without scruple, on what others have already done.

Interrogating those conceptual structures that are most taken for granted, for Benjamin as for his compatriots, was the critical form of production opened up by the essay form.

To write is, in its modest but ever necessary way, to participate. In this collection, focusing on public and ecclesiastical architecture - primarily in the Chesapeake but also in the mid-Atlantic, Charleston, the Carolina Low Country, and Savannah, Georgia - Lounsbury details the emergence of regional building practices. His analyses provide not only a counterweight to the predominance of studies on domestic spaces, but also a fresh look at the ways in which such local building patterns emerged, explaining both their characters and processes.

These collected essays alternate between particular case studies and more comprehensive interpretive commentaries and are united by broad, recurring themes. Lounsbury is especially interested in examining the English precedents and heritage for colonial architecture; the collaborative nature of that early American architecture, which gave multiple progenitors shared responsibility both for designing and constructing; the varieties of Protestant theological tenets involved in regional church design across time and space; and the distortions that emerge from an architectural history that relies only on the "evidence of standing structures" p.

Lounsbury divides the volume into four unequal sections bound together by these themes. The first section examines the English origins of early American architecture and notes their speedy transmutations on the ground, leading to important observations about regionalism and the rapidity by which early colonists deviated from inherited practices as a result of unanticipated conditions encountered in their new locales.

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