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Origins to Industrial Revolution (3500 BCE – 1700 CE)

ARCH 540
Global History of Architecture I:
Origins to Industrial Revolution (3500 BCE – 1700 CE) LEC

Case study 1 – 2 Pages
Case study 2 – 2 Pages
Bibliography – 1 Page
If you want to include any images, use additional pages at the end of the document, DO NOT
insert them into the text. Be sure to label and number them. If you choose to do so, please
mention the image number in your essay where relevant.
Font – Times New Roman, 11-point font, 1.5 Spacing
File Format – Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), DO NOT UPLOAD .PDF FILE
Reference and Bibliography – Use bibliography and reference at the end of your compiled
See more instructions at the end of this document.
Discuss how context (social practice, economic activity, geography and environment) shapes
the design of a building. Take any TWO case studies from the following lists:
1. Hagar Qim, Malta
2. City of Mohenjo-Daro
3. Mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt
4. Propylaea, Greece
5. Hadrian’s Villa, Italy.
In your discussion focus on the following issues
1) Spatial layouts (sequence of space, organization, and composition of space in plan),
2) Building material (Brick/Concrete/Stone/Timber); and
3) Structural system (trabeated system/vault/dome/brick masonry/stone masonry)
Writing Prompt
Divide the discussion of each case study into two sections:
1. Context – 1 page
2. Analysis – 1 Page
Follow the prompt below to write and to develop your essay.
1. Context
First explain what do you understand by context. Use the following four key components to
define context. However, write this section as a narrative essay, do not use bullet points.
a. Geography: It means the siting of the building. For instances: Is your case study
located in a desert? Savannah? Scrubland? Forest? Riverside? How is the
topography? Steep terrain? Flat land? Sandy soil? Seashore? Riverside? Mountain
peak? Vegetation? Tall trees? Bush? Shrubs? Etc.
b. Environment: It means the climate and environment of the region. For instances: Is
it located in a monsoon region? Tropical belt? Oceanic islands? What are the climatic
features of that region? Rain a lot? Dry? Draught? Windy? Snow? Arctic? Extreme
summer and extreme winter? Moderate temperature? Can people sleep outside
during the summer? Can people survive outside during the winter? Etc.
c. Economic activity: Economic activities also have great impact on how a society
designs its monumental architecture. It also determines the scale and expanse of
building activities. Economic activities could also shape the worldview of a
community, for instances the hunter-gatherer people venerated the great animal
power and emulated the cave like environment even when they departed from the
hunter-gatherer life style. Similarly, the agriculturist community in the South and
Southeast Asia imagine powerful rice deity and makes their spiritual space in the
image of a granary. So, the concerning questions for this point would be: are the
community in question is based on agriculture? What type of crops they produce,
rice? Corn? Barley? Are they Herders? Or Hunters? Mix of agriculture and
pastoralism? Did they use irrigation? Did they move from one place to another to
follow their herds or to hunt animals? Were they forest people? Did they stay in one
place and live off the natural resources of oceans and rivers?
2. Analysis
In this section you will relate the above components of context with the spatial layout and
structural design of a building. However, write this section as a narrative essay, DO NOT use
bullet points. Followings are some hints.
The location of Athenian Parthenon in Acropolis was carefully articulated along the slope of the
terrain. The orientation of dwellings of Lepenski Vir was determined by the bending angle of
the nearby river. Geography impacted the use of building material as well. For instances
because of the scarcity of stone and wood in Mesopotamia the principal building material were
sun dried brick and kiln-fired brick. In Egypt the abundance of stone quarries and their close
proximity to Nile encouraged the builders to undertake ambitious stone monument.
The second important factor that shaped the design of historical building is climate. The pit
house developed in cold region while stilt house was developed in tropical region, both type
was an architectural response to its climate. Pit house was cozy introvert, no opening half
buried in ground – all of these features were developed to contain heat within the house as
much as possible. On the other hand, Stilt house was raised over the ground by means of pillars
to protect itself from damp ground, flash flood, rats, insects which are abandoned in tropical
climate, The inner volume is open, extrovert and airy to allow a good cross ventilation which is
desirable in a tropical context. The architectural expression of Mbuti huts was directly
connected to the character of Mongone leaves that they use as the main building material.
The revolution of Agro pastoral city-states in Indus valley and in Mesopotamia would not have
been possible without the discovery of bitumen. Geography could also be a source of poetic
inspiration such as the long colonnaded walkways of Egyptian temple is an attempt to emulate
the river Nile in abstract way.
Economic activity could have profound effect on architectural design as well. Producing rice
gives the Japanese people a very distinctive worldview, which was radically different from the
Big game population who mainly live of hunting big animals and developed an animal centric
worldview. Japanese people venerated the form of rice granary and transposed the form in
their basic temple structure. On the other hand the Greek’s worldview was a complex
juxtaposition of maritime trade network and their dependence on pastoral culture. This
worldview was reflected in their idea of ideal beauty and the ritual culture of animal sacrifice.
The Mayas dependence on Sun and corn production was also reflected in their unique ritual
practices that eventually shaped their architecture, for instances: their idea of creating mound
out of horizontal planes, and the way they orientated every building blocks according to sun

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