architecture & landscape #1
By Andrea Gamba
18 Feb 2011
In a remote part of Middle East I found seeds of what I name Architecture in Landscape. Those two main elements blend often together in a harmoniously whole where economy, resource and needs coexist with nature, shapes, colors, clime and love for the own country.
I'd spend few words about the two main characters: architecture and landscape before dining in the route toward the beauty of these human artifacts.
"Scientific analysis" was a studied and performed approach by Aldo Rossi, an important word wide known architect from Italy in the second half of the last century. He claimed that architecture doesn't belong completely to the world of art but rather it becomes scientific issue as soon as we consider it like a rational solution between human needs and what he called: "Recognition" of the "Types". This statement would found easily its truths if we simply concentrate on what we consider as common architectural language. Everybody would recognize a church rather than a mosque or a house shape beyond the symbols that characterize a faith or simply a particular entrance door of our domestic walls. So cities and mainly architecture is a combination of objects (types), which communicate their inner activities through shapes and forms.
I'd take another architectural statement to argument this thought.
In the early 20' of the last century another prominent Architect, Adolf Loos, underlined the process by which we commonly interpret built shapes and the language of recognition in Architecture.
He, so, claimed:" if we find a barrow of stones in a wood, 6 feet high and 3 large, pyramidal shaped, we'd become serious and something deep down our heart would tell us: someone is buried here. This is Architecture." The example points out more symbolic values of the object rather than a pure expression of this particular barrow shape although the architect attempts to re-connect the reader with visual imagination by sizing the object so to make it real.
The whole history of architecture and specifically its anthropology branch, which treats human buildings interested by a systemic evolution, tell us about the beginning of the space created and conceived by humans and more about a sequence of transformation in aesthetical point of view rather than building typologies.
Typologies represent all the forms of building by which we identify certain activities and uses. Factories and temples, houses and schools, libraries and town halls, all those contemporary buildings, that we can commonly find in our cities, are nothing but a simple and readable evolution of an initial type therefore what we name gothic church is simply a transformation of the ancient Greek temple.
Few years ago I had the fortune to meet a professor from Napoli who held a lecture about roots of the architecture in our time. He begin to convey his theory of the "beach umbrella" in order to explain what an architectural space is. We, all, are familiar with the use of that umbrella and we unconsciously perceive the difference between the shaded area and the lighted one despite of lack of physical walls. Shadow acts as real fence so we can obviously state that a shed might also be architecture.
During my journey in Turkey, Syria and Jordan I also focus on the morphological example of human sheds as houses to live in or simply human artifacts that I found from time to time along the road. Landscape plays also a role of background where all the elements seem to be combined harmoniously in a perfect whole. It becomes part of the architecture and base of human life as soon as it's turn into a resource to provide both food and form of economy.
The adaptation is clearly visible therefore we'd notice the infrastructures by which the remote settlements are connected to our world. Electrical net and poles becomes a way to let landscape speaking about its curves and its tectonics as well as Christo and Jeanne Claude have extraordinary shown through curtains at Rifle in Colorado (1970-72). Nature leads people in their practical choices, a tractor becomes an attractive object in a landscape as much as a farmer assume the colors of vegetables to camouflage herself in a sunflowers field. Houses and sheds arise from the stone ground and colors show the strong life of their owners.
Everything is related to the place where the objects lie, so the tent in the deserts or the abandoned check point along the Dead Sea' motorway.
In a city such as Amman in Jordan, dynamics and economy twist and swift shapes so giving an urban layout to the houses therefore blocks of different geometry are piled across the hillsides, which surround the old town, abstractly forming a picturesque cubism paint where fragments of different eclectic styles coexist with the concrete recent buildings.