Decorating Appropriately Essay

Decorating Appropriately Essay.

Ornament, is generally defined as a decoration used to embellish parts of a building, has also been a controversial debating topic when architecture was introduced to the Modernism period. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, absence of ornaments became a hallmark of Modern architecture and equated the moral virtues of honesty, simplicity and purity. Le Corbusier, one of the prominent modernist figures, had always supported the ideals of simplistic and honest design. He blamed the deceit in ornamentations as it disguised the flaws in manufacture.

However by the mid-1950s, he broke his own rules by producing several highly expressive, sculptural concrete works due to his realization of ornaments could equally serve practical purposes in architecture. In the essay Decorating Appropriately, French architect and theorist Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc unfolded numerous clear ideas about how and in what circumstances ornament should be employed by looking at different approaches to ornamentation in the cultures of Egypt, Greece and the Middle Ages.

The first and perhaps the oldest approach is the natural ornament adopted by the ancient Egyptian culture.

Ornaments were inherent in the building’s material and they took the forms from the natural world and decorated with the images of it. The second approach of ornamentation is the result of ancient Greek civilization. Many new forms of ornaments were created at that time and they served to articulate the building visually, organizing it into a series of coordinated visual units that could be comprehended as a whole.

Viollet-le-Duc believed this approach is the most rational because its fitness and clearness have unified the entire structure. Aside from the Parthenon mentioned in the essay, the Temple of Hephaestus is another example that belongs to the second approach of ornamentation. Only 18 of 68 metopes of the temple were sculptured and they were mostly located on the east side of the structure, the rest of the metopes were painted. The third ornamentation system appeared in the Middle Ages, it was a system derived from the Egyptian and the Greek approaches yet developed differently regarding to the composition.

Although colossal sculpture and bas-relief were not allowed, figures are grouped and concentrated to create a scenic effect and dynamic contrast between the rich and plain parts. Viollet-le-Duc appreciated this system remarkably in his essay as it provided the greatest variety of expression that can be achieved. In conclusion ornamentation functions beyond a decoration but equally a cultural reference, a symbolic communication, a suggestion of individuality, as well as design tactics for establishing scales, signaling entries and aiding direction finding.

The notions suggested by Viollet-le-Duc on the application of ornaments should be considered as very valid and still applicable to architectures today. Ornamentation should always engage in the building structure as a whole to create sympathy between ornament and structure so that each enhancing the value of the other. From the ancient Egyptian time to the current technology-dominated era, ornament continuously evolves to have a broader meaning and different definition.

Historically the surface behind the ornaments has been seen as a background wanted to be wore. The technology and software at our disposal now gives us enormous control over the form and therefore ornaments and structure are no longer an individual unit. One of the greatest examples would be the residential tower in Dubai designed by Zaha Hadid, which the skin is perforated with hundreds of geometric openings in an amazingly complex arrangement producing a graphically elegant facade treatment.

As the tower rises, the frequency of openings becomes greater so that the cladding becomes lighter as it reaches up toward the sky. Today ornamentation has been integrated into architecture structurally and conceptually. Whether we are about to enter a digital age with the intellectual ornament that has been substantially altered, a century after Viollet-le-Duc’s great polemic, his considerations are still truly applicable to the architecture in the present days.

Decorating Appropriately Essay

Hawa Mahal Essay

Hawa Mahal Essay.

Hawa Mahal stands upright as the entrance to the City Palace, Jaipur. An important landmark in the city, Hawa Mahal is an epitome of the Rajputana architecture. The splendid five-storey “Palace of the Winds” is a blend of beauty and splendor much close to Rajasthan’s culture. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh built Hawa Mahal in 1779. The pyramid shape of this ancient monument is a tourist attraction having 953 small windows. 2. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658), grandson of Akbar the great, in the memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, entitled ‘Mumtaz Mahal’.

Mumtaz Mahal was a niece of empress Nur Jahan and granddaughter of Mirza Ghias Beg I’timad-ud-Daula, wazir of emperor Jehangir. She was born in 1593 and died in 1631, during the birth of her fourteenth child at Burhanpur. Her mortal remains were temporarily buried in the Zainabad garden. Six months later, her body was transferred to Agra to be finally enshrined in the crypt of the main tomb of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is the mausoleum of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial, one of India’s most beautiful monuments, represent a unique combination of classical European architecture and Mughal motifs. The domed and white marble museum sprawls over 64 acres and is set in a landscaped garden at the southern side of the Kolkata’s maidan (ground) near Jawaharlal Nehru Road. Charminar

The charminar Hyderabad’s best known landmark was built 1591 by Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah to appease the force of evil savaging his new city with epidemic and plague. Standing in the heart of the old walled city and surround by lively bazaars, the charminar (‘four tower’) is a 56m high triumphal arch. The arch is notable for its elegant balconies, stucco decorations and the small mosque, Hyderabad’s oldest, on the 2nd floor. An image of the grace every packet of charminar cigarettes, one of India’s most popular brand. 6. Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. It lies at a distance of approximately 52 km from the capital city of Bhopal and 10 km from Vidisha. The major attractions of Sanchi include a number of Buddhist stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars. All these structures date back to somewhere between 3rd century BC and 12th century AD. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka founded all the stupas at Sanchi in the honor of Lord Buddha. They have the distinction of being included by unesco in the list of world heritage Qutab Minar

Qutub-ud-din Aibak laid the foundation for Qutub Minar in 1199 AD and his successor and son-in-law Shamsu’d-Din- Iitutmish completed the structure by adding three more stories. Standing at 72.5 meters, it is the highest stone tower in India. Its base diameter is 14.3 meters and its top diameter is 2.7 meters. It has 379 steps leading to its top story. The lower three stories are made using red sand stone and the top two with marble and sand stone Gateway

The majestic Gateway of India is a glorious historical memorial built during British rule. This magnificent monument has been built in Indo-Sarcenic style to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay. Gateway of India is one of the finest example of colonial architectural heritage in India. This grand structure stands at the Apollo Bunder, a popular meeting place in Mumbai. The gateway of India was designed by the British architect George Wittet and was opened for general public in the year 1924

Hawa Mahal Essay

Do We Learn from our Mistakes? Essay

Do We Learn from our Mistakes? Essay.

Architecturally speaking, I think we learn very little from our mistakes, as there are so many thousands of mistakes to make in architecture without repeating a single one.

A child may learn not to touch a hot stove, but that is because the child receives an immediate response for doing so. This is not true with the mistakes we make as architects. Sometimes years go by before we learn the results of our errors; mostly our ethical errors.

Most of the time this is because we were not making an honest effort in the first place but were looking for a short cut in our design effort.

It is easier to submit to the current fad or use a concept or details from a prior project, rather than examine the unique needs of the new project before you. I believe our computer technologies are partially responsible for this; for instance, it is easy to recall a detail system that was prepared for a prior project and with the touch of a key, you can steal the details from an old design as they magically appear on your computer screen.

You may have to make minor adjustments to these details to make them applicable to your current project but this will take only a few hours rather than the many hours it took you to generate those original details. You will save time and money but you have made a devil’s bargain that will come back to haunt you in the future.

To seek truth is a painful process, fraught with stress and discouragement. I know that I have spent many hours developing a detail system for a project only to completely abandon it when I have discovered a better solution; but it was the many hours spent on the abandoned details that lead me to my new and fresh solutions.


If we don’t learn from our mistakes, what then do we learn from? I think it is from our successes, as success is much less common than a failure. Success in architecture is not possible without wisdom. Many people believe that wisdom comes with age; I believe this is not true, as I have seen many young architects gain wisdom with an honest effort to seek excellence in their designs and work long and hard hours toward this end. Some older architects, repeating dreary building after dreary building, gain little wisdom. New information channeled through the old system, delivers the same old answers, repeating mistakes in new buildings.


Young architects, trying to make an honest building, may make some errors in their first designs, but the freshness of their designs will bring them new clients who will forgive them these beginning errors. The new clients will appreciate the integrity of the young architects’ early buildings. These sensitive clients will give wings to young architects that will allow them the freedom to make new and more innovative designs. There are very few good architects in this world, but there are even fewer good clients!

Most young architects must struggle at first to make a living, and may take clients with no sensitivity to good design. These clients may bring the architect pictures of what they think their building should look like, or even a crude floor plan they have sketched. They just want the young architect to copy their bad ideas, allowing them to give drawings to their building contractor to obtain a cost estimate, or a building permit. Avoid these clients like the plague.

Beware of putting your name on anything that you are not proud of, as it will haunt you for the rest of your life, and will hang around your neck like a chain of dead fish.

Actually, turning down bad clients that only want the latest fad is ultimately the most economical thing that you can do for your practice. Once you do a bad building you will lose potentially good clients who will see your bad buildings and will not come to you to be their architect! You will have to seek clients for the rest of your life, and one client tends to be like the one before him. But if your first buildings are works of integrity, clients will seek you out; they will find you; and, they will demand your services for the rest of your life.

My wife and I struggled a little when I first opened my architectural office, but we held on until I received a contract with a good client. I have never had to seek a client nor have I been without a client over the past 55 years. Besides, it’s good to struggle a little at first; it deflates the large ego that most architects have; I know it deflated mine.

Your name is your most important asset; protect it. Your conscience is your best critic; listen to it.

Do We Learn from our Mistakes? Essay

The Roman Colosseum Essay

The Roman Colosseum Essay.

The Roman Colosseum has had a major influence on many buildings and structures through-out our history.

Even to this day it is possible to find it’s architecture in many different forms.

One of today’s structures which seems to closely resemble it, is the modern football stadia. Like the Roman Colosseum, many are built in a large oval form, this is mainly the case in Scotland, whilst in England they tend to be rectangular. The oval shaped stadiums also have the advantage of fitting in a slightly larger crowd, due to the curved sections at each end.

The seating arrangements in the modern football stadium are similar to the ones in the Roman Colosseum. They were designed to accommodate thousands of spectators. Most stadiums now are mainly all-seaters, which seems to have been adopted from the Colosseum.

The modern football stadium also pays attention to the ease of entry and exit, which played a big role in the plan and structure of the colosseum from the beginning.

Both of theses structures were also built with fireproof building materials .This was highly important for the safety of both these constructions, as they were constantly dealing with huge crowds of spectators.

Like the colosseum, modern football stadiums are also equipped with shelters.

There are also many differences between these two structures, mainly because the football stadium is an evolved version of the Roman Colosseum, and therefore uses different construction methods, for example, the football stadium is made out of steel or reinforced concrete with cantilevered roofs, whilst the Colosseum was built using brick and stone with concrete vaults.

Some of the main changes in todays stadium seem to be of increasing size and improving facilities. Most now have shops, bars, restaurants, extensive car parks and various other means to make the spectators’ visit comfortable. This was not available in the Colosseum.

The modern football stadia no longer speak the classical language of architecture, however, they are all large enough to have a major impact on the areas in which they are built, which is a similar architectural gesture to that of the Colosseum.

The Roman Colosseum Essay

Suspension Bridges Essay

Suspension Bridges Essay.

A suspension bridge is a one where many cables are strung across two or more towers, which supports the majority of the bridge weight and force. The cables run from the towers to the anchorages.

Suspension bridges have benefited our everyday lives since John A. Roebling perfected the suspension bridge design in 1845 and built the Allegheny Suspension Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Placzek). These bridges are better than previous bridges in many ways. Suspension bridges can span greater distances and are much cheaper than other types of bridges, such as beam bridges, which are simply constructed of beams supporting the deck of the bridge, they cannot span as long as these suspension bridges, and are more costly due to the amount of steel used.

Without these bridges, some of today’s largest gaps could not be crossed by use of a bridge.

Suspension bridges are no more than physics in action. The force of compression pushes down on the suspension bridge’s deck, but because it is a suspended roadway, the cables transfer the compression to the anchorages which place the compression directly into the earth where they are firmly planted.

The supporting cables, running between the two anchorages, are the recipients of the tension forces. The cables are stretched from the weight of the bridge and its traffic as they run from anchorage to anchorage. The anchorages are also under tension, but since they, like the towers are held firmly to the earth, the tension is placed into the earth. Almost all suspension bridges also have a truss system underneath the bridge deck to help stiffen the bridge and prevent swaying.

There are two types of suspension bridges. The more common “M” design where the cables are strung in a “M”- like fashion. The other, and the more rare design of the two, is the “A” design. In this design, two towers and four anchorages are not needed, like the “M” design, but the wires run up from the roadway to a single tower where they are secured. (Brain) Current suspension bridge designs have many types of wires and the type of wire used depend on the size of the bridge. Galvanized Bridge Wire is the basic wire. Galvanized Bridge Wire is twisted together to form Galvanized Bridge Strands. Galvanized Bridge Rope is formed by twisting Galvanized Bridge Strands. These different “strengths” of wire are used in making the actual cables of the bridges. There are five main types of cables in a suspension bridge. The first type is Parallel Wire Cables, which consist of Galvanized Bridge Wire placed in a “tubing.”

The wires are not twisted, just placed next to each other to make a cable. The second type of cable is Parallel Strand Cables, Closed Construction. These consist of many Galvanized Bridge Strands laid parallel and in contact with each other. The next type, Parallel Strand Cables, Open Construction, is the same as the Closed Construction except the strands are not in contact with each other. The forth kind, Parallel Rope Cables, Open Construction, are the same as Parallel Strand Cables except Galvanized Bridge Rope is used in place of Galvanized Bridge Rope. The final type of cable is the Single Rope or Single Strand Cable, which is a single rope or strand. The Single Rope is used for smaller structures. Each type of cable is used for the size and strength needed for the bridge that is being made.

The current towers are long and tall beams of steel placed upright on the bridge. The anchorages are also made of steel. (Technical Data) Future suspension bridge designs may replace the steel wires, towers, and anchorages with carbon-fiber ones. Carbon-fiber is a very strong and very light material. With carbon-fiber cables, the cables could support a lot more force than the current cables and, in turn, will enable suspension bridge lengths to exceed even the record-breaking distances of today’s designs, like the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan which holds the record for longest bridge. It spans about 12,828 feet, and with the materials of today suspension bridges can exceed even that distance (Bridge Information).

Suspension bridges have spanned the gaps which were thought to have been impossible, like the gap of the Tagus River in Portugal. In order to improve these modern marvels stronger materials must be used in order for the bridge length to increase and to fight the many forces which act upon the bridges.


Brain, Marshall “Howstuffworks: How Bridges Work” “Bridge Information” Bridge Types: Suspension” Placzek, Adolf K. “John Augustus Roebling – Great Buildings Online” Steinman, David Barnard “Enclyclopedia Brittanica Intermediate – BRIDGE”,6101,32499,00.html “Suspension Bridge Technical Data”

Suspension Bridges Essay