Evolution of Our Ideas and Philosophy
Villa La Rotunda, 1567
The La Villa Rotunda was built in the lush corn farmland outside Venice, in the outskirts of Vicenza, Italy. It was the late renaissance and the cultural environment in Vicenza was immersed in understanding the Greek and Roman classics. Aristotle, Plato, and the Golden Mean were front and center in their minds. In addition, the understanding of the workings of the universe had shifted from the Ptolemaic earth center universe to the newly understood earth centered universe of Copernicus. This all brought a revival of using the Greek classical architectural elements of Temple architecture, refined by overlaying mathematical Golden Mean Proportions on their architectural works. Palladio was the great master of understanding how to bring the use of proportion by the Golden Mean (ratio of 1:1.618) into the facade of a building. Standing in its presence, you feel you are looking at the center of a harmonically ordered universe
Villa Savoye, 1928
The Villa Savoye was built in the outskirts of Paris, in Poissy, France. The time was near the beginning of the Einsteinian revolution of “relativity”. The universe was no longer understood as a sun centered universe with planets rotating in simple circular orbits around it. It was an infinite space in eternal expansion with quasars, and black holes. It was also a time of great technological revolution. Air ships were carrying passengers across the Atlantic in super light crafts floating above the landscape. Furniture had to be light so as not to burden the airship with unnecessary weight. LeCorbusier saw the new world that was emerging and designed the Villa Savoye with the latest technology available at his time. LeCorbusier also was well versed in the understanding of how Proportion was used to create harmonic architecture. Jerzy Soltan worked in the office of LeCorbusier and did all of the studies for LeCorbusier on how to incorporate proportions into an architectural work. Jerzy Soltan was also my teacher at Yale University and we had many studies and conversations on the harmonics of proportion. You stand in awe as you stand on the grounds of the Villa Savoye and look at this simple floating white box as it hovers over the simple green lawn, and wonder what the magic was happening in front of your eyes. You then understand that the feeling you are having is the experience of the magic of the interplay of the Golden Mean in every dimension of every detail in the building.
Fallingwater was built in the mountains of Mill Run, Pennsylvania, USA. The time was well into the Einsteinian revolution of “relativity”. The universe was no longer understood as a sun centered universe with planets rotating in simple circular orbits around it. The universe was now much more complex and mankind had integrated not only the planets and stars into its cosmological model, by 1936 the earths micro environment was also beginning to be understood from the buildup of proteins from viruses to simple organism, to evolution of the earth’s surface and the blooming of the plant world form ferns to giant sequoias. Similarly evolution of mammals from little mice size mammals all the way to human beings, were being understood. Frank Lloyd Wright was very focused on human beings relationship to nature. He always tried to figure out the best way to integrate human life with the natural environment, and achieved his greatest realization of his ideas in Fallingwater. Sanding in its presence, you feel you are looking at a work of architecture that grew out of the ground, and then branched out and grew balconies almost as trees grow out leaves, that belong, and are on integral part of the natural environment that they stand in. You stand in awe as the man made cantilever concrete forms unite with the rock formations below, and then reach out over the river like gigantic leaves in the forest.
Lawrence Residence, 1984
Walter David Brown Archiect designed this residence for a site in Westchester County, New York. The ideas in which it is designed comes from the the ideas beginning with the Villa Rotunda and what came after it. The evolution architectural form, in each era of architectural history, has been a manifestation of the accumulated mathematical, scientific, cosmological, and religious-mythological ideas of that era. In our lifetime, we have lived in one of the most interesting times in all of human history, because knowledge of the universe has expanded to such a profound level, and to such grandure, that it makes all other visions of past look very primitive. Our contemporary understanding of our universe starting with the "Big Bang", expanding into the "Cosmic Web", the "Galaxy Clusters", "The Great South Wall", "Black Holes", "The relativity of Space Time ", "Quantum Mechanics", and "The infinite Expanding Universe", is based on profound mathematical concepts, and vast scientific observations, that were never possible in earlier times. I also realized that most architecture is still shackled and bound to previous eras and does not express the possibilities of the ideas available to us today. For the most part, architecture today is conceived within the Euclidian three dimensional space-time cubicle grid. I conceive an architecture that exists in the universe as we understand it today - a universe infinitely expanding in curved gravitationally molded space, unbound by the concepts of the past.
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