Monday, March 24, 2008

Sacred Building Practice – Thesis Outline

If what is sacred is equivalent to reality, as Eliade and other have suggested, then sacred architecture must hold some claim to necessity. Through the dedication of building do we come to sacred architecture. Using the example of the vault and the stone, we can draw an analogy to the act of laying the stone or consecration, and sacredness. In the same manner that the stone relates to the form of the vault, so too does the act of laying the stone relate to sacredness. The placing of a stone must be done with an understanding of the form, prior to the form’s material completion. This act of construction becomes an act of consecration as the unity of part to whole is dedicated from the start. The sacred manifests itself through a construction whose concern is wholeness. Construction is seen to be an act of creation.

The intention is to address sacred and eternal architecture within the individual and unique circumstances given at this point in temporal time.

Construction Documents
Drawings within architecture are analogous to writing within language, or sheet music within music. Each discipline, architecture, language, and music, has a (perhaps secondary?) form in which being or essence is disclosed. This disclosure that exists outside of speaking, construction, or performing music must take its place within the being of things, i.e. it must have form. In suggesting that construction documents must have form, I am challenging the notion that construction documents are representational. The documents are a disclosure of being in that they disclose form and are not a representation of what will eventually be built.

Computers are seen as a tool for representing buildings in ‘cyberspace’. Only insofar as computers can aide in developing a formal understanding can computers hold a valid position within architecture. Furthermore, if we allow that computers allow a formal understanding of material, the question remains if computers hold advantage over paper and pencil predecessors.

Space of material
New materials are a combination of different materials. New materials can be seen as the unity of different materials. The creation of new materials can take place on site and become a part of the building process. For example, the mixing of earth from the site can be mixed with cement at the site to create a material (rammed earth) whose form and purpose are taken into account from the beginning. The contemporary building process, when considered in light of past building processes, realizes form more fully through differentiating material more so. The ability to have more control over the material, instead of the limitation imposed by using stone for instance, implies a greater differentiation. However, it is important for the architect to have input in the creation of new materials in order for the emphasis on form to be maintained. What is brought into question is the role of architect as ‘specify-er’, in that the architect is not to simply select or specify a set of products from a catalogue. What has yet to be addressed is the role that industrial production plays in that certain things cannot be created on-site, such as door handles, faucets, etc. Ultimately, an emphasis on form and being and dwelling must not be forgotten in the building process.

Architectural details become more differentiated in that each part serves an emphasised purpose. Similar to the organs of the body serving a separate function, yet unable to exist on its own, does the architectural detail achieve its form.

Engineering & Mechanical Systems
Le Corbusier sought to idealise the individual elements of design: absolute independent floor plan, absolute free facade, absolute pillar, etc. The same thought underlines the use of standardised elements -- methods of fabrication he justifies on grounds of cost but also in order to express order, harmony, and perfection. The idealization of functions leads to their aestheticisation, and consequently became a cardinal principle for Le Corbusier.