architecture JARGON: one

Talk like an architect.

Architects have a particular language to describe and discuss architecture – this isn’t purely to sound smart or pretentious but rather to convey ideas and express the meaning of built form.

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

Human scale:  The relationship and measurable qualities of the human body as it relates to architecture.  The human body’s scale and proportion has been studied since Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man or Le Corbusier’s Modular Man.  How the body’s relationship with, or the lack thereof, is often intentional and is present in all architecture.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

Le Corbusier’s
Modular Man

 

The National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Bangledesh (right).  Notice the building has no frame of reference to the size a person.  The image on the top could appear to be big or small.  This building, for the most part lacks human scale. 

Juxtaposition [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]:  This is when two or more architectural objects are located close together or next to one another for comparison and/or contrast.  This is commonly seen with new architecture next to historic architecture.  This is also a technique that can be applied to one very large building to break it down into smaller components which have differing materials, scale, and/or form.

Quartier Schützenstrasse, Berlin by Aldo Rossi.  The large building is broken down by colour and form.

Legibility:  The ability of being deciphered or understood.  In architecture this typically refers to way-finding which is how easily users can understand their environment and find their way within it.  If a large number of signs are required to decipher where to go the architectural legibility is poor.

Synergy [sin-er-jee]:  When the combination of parts or components creates a greater effect than any individual element.  This is typically the case for any good architecture but this word seems to get thrown around a lot.

Columniation:   The arrangement of columns.

Treptow Krematorium, Berlin by Axel Schultes, Charlotte Frank, Christoph Witt.  Its all about the columns.

Intercolumniation:  The space between columns.  The pattern of spacing between columns.

Squarify:  To make more square. (This is not a really word.  FYI:  architects love to make all words verbs)

Negotiate the Topography:  To change levels, to go up or down stairs or ramp.

(I guess sometimes architects like to sound pretentious sometimes)

Tectonics [tek-ton-iks]:  The science or art of assembling, shaping, or ornamenting materials in construction; the constructive arts in general.  A general term for the theory and techniques of construction.

Materiality [muh-teer-ee-al-i-tee]:  A way to create form and space via the nature or quality of materials used in architecture.  Materials can be the driving force behind the design of architecture, where the architect studies materials and techniques and thus form a building from the maximization of their effect.  In modern architecture material honesty is at its essence.

   

Ricola Factory by Herzog and de Meuron (masters of materiality)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Space [speys]:  A loaded word which could be discussed at length but in short it is the formation and realization of a constructed three-dimensional realm.   In architecture space is physically or implicitly enclosed by the constructed form to create specific experiences and qualities.

The Pantheon, Rome.  One of the most dramatic interior spaces due to the geometric proportions.

to be continued…

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