Archive for the Historic Architecture Category

Old Saint Peter’s Basilica

Posted in Historic Architecture, Pub Library, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2020 by Drogo

The greatest case of Christian architectural evolution is the Constantinian Christian basilica of St. Peter in Rome, Italy. Roman Emperor Constantine had the original St. Peter’s Basilica built (320-360 AD) on the site of Nero’s Circus, to honor the tomb of St. Peter, respect other Christian martyrs, and honor Christianity as the new Roman religion. The adjective ‘old’ was only added after it was demolished in the Renaissance, to distinguish the current from the former building. Pagan Romans used basilicas as public meeting halls, and the architectural form began to change as Christians used it. Although St. Peter’s is still called a basilica (Pagan), it is a large church or cathedral (Christian). The Catholic Church reserves the word ‘cathedral’ for large churches held by bishops, but architecturally for the masses there is no distinction between a cathedral and a basilica. Papal (pope) coronations were held at the basilica, and in 800 AD Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ there. Soon after in 846 Saracens sacked and damaged the tombs and treasures.

Old St. Peter’s set an example for related cathedrals and thousands of smaller churches, which followed for hundreds of years and still continues today world-wide. It was a synthesis of assembly hall, temple, and villa. Old St. Peter’s held 4,000 worshipers inside, and thousands more outside in the atrium (akin to St. Peter’s Plaza today). The atrium was added later and had 5 doors (portas) in the gable wall leading into the nave. The atrium was called the “Garden of Paradise” during the Dark Ages. As a large colonnade courtyard plaza, the atrium served to filter  and shelter entry into the interior nave arcade. Atriums or plaza squares are similar to typical Roman villa interior courtyards with fountains or sculpture in the center; in this case a bronze pine-cone fountain and Vatican obelisk. The transition from narthex to nave matches the Roman traditional private upper-class family household altar or chapel and open atrium relationship. Early Christian domestic architecture linked worship with privacy not only because Christianity was illegal, but also because it was conventional to have religious (Pagan ancestor) shrines in homes. Pilgrims approached the atrium portico typically by the eastern stairs.

Old St. Peter’s exterior was fairly plain, and resembled what we would consider a large stucco-masonry barn, rather than a classical temple. This lack of architectural adornment reflected the decline of the Roman Empire and the simplicity of early Christianity, which would continue into the Dark Age that followed. Ironically the new St. Peter’s basilica was the first time the facade had classical pilasters, as the Renaissance revived the Pagan styles. Old St. Peter’s long nave main aisle was flanked symmetrically by four side aisles, and lit by clerestory windows. A great arch framed the entry view of the altar and vaulted apse beyond at the western end. The apse and altar combination with nave procession comes from a long line of imperial Pagan temples (Egyptian Hatshepsut Temple 1480 BC to Roman Leptis Magna Basilica 210 AD). The 100 marble columns were spolia taken from earlier pagan buildings. Old St. Peter’s was over 350 feet long, with a colored marbled transept making a T-shaped Latin cross. The gabled roof with wooden beams was 100 feet high along the ridge peak, and despite fires and thin walls lacking buttresses it lasted for over a thousand years. Old St. Peter’s design was like St. John Lateran’s Arch-basilica Cathedral, built around the same time in Rome. The Renaissance reconstructed basilica was designed by architects: Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Sangallo, and Maderno. The new St. Peter’s is larger, and contains some relics of the old structure.

The nave arch had a mosaic of ‘Constantine and St. Peter’, presenting a model of the church to Christ. On the walls between windows were frescoes of Bible themes. Ghiberti and Vasari wrote that Giotto painted five frescoes which were “either destroyed or carried away from the old structure of St. Peter’s during the building of the new walls.” Some medieval relics survived reconstruction. From some descriptions and fragments, the Navicella atrium mosaic (1310) was recreated. It occupied the whole wall above the entrance arcade facing the courtyard. Matthew’s scripture (14:24) was the basis for the large medieval mosaic by Giotto. “After Peter came down out of the ship and walked on the water, he became afraid of the storm and began to sink. He called out to Jesus for help. Jesus caught him and reproved him for his lack of faith, and led him back to the ship, whereupon the storm stopped.” A standing Madonna and fragment of an Epiphany mosaic (circa 700) also survived; but many gold items, like Constantine’s Cross on the Tomb of St. Peter, were lost long ago.

Old St. Peter’s architecture is confirmed by archeology, historical written accounts, and archival drawings. The oldest depictions we have are from 4th century frescoes and 16th century architects before demolition and reconstruction. Excavations confirmed some of the writings and renderings. One of the written sources ‘Liber Pontificalis’ mentions the rumor that Constantine was urged by Bishop Silvester to build the basilica on the site of St. Peter’s grave, and make his coffin with layers of solid bronze with spiral ‘Solomonic’ columns. Its’ construction involved removing or relocating tombs and constructing an enormous foundation on an expanded hillside level-cut.

The turmoil in Rome from conversion to fall (300-500 AD) begins with the 2 main christian basilicas being built to try to appease the oppressed masses of protesters all over the empire who sympathized with the infamous Christian martyrs. It is easier to study the architectural language changes, because the politics was very culturally complex and hard to translate, other than to say it is always about power. Despite the old Roman Pagan authority being replaced from within by Christian Imperial authority, the city was sacked by Christian barbarian mercenaries and migrants (Visigoths and Vandals) for centuries (600-100). Finally even the basilicas were not safe against the last of the barbarians (Saxons, Vikings, and Saracens), until the Roman Church authority was supreme enough across European kingdoms to focus violence against the Eastern Empire and Jerusalem (again) with the Crusades (1100-1300). [dates circa nearest hundred]

 

Plan_of_Circus_Neronis_and_St._Peters1590-Alfarano_plan

Architecture in ‘The Name of the Rose’

Posted in Film Reviews, Historic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2020 by Drogo

RWU History of Architecture II – Irene Fatsea 1995

Architecture in ‘The Name of the Rose’ Film

In the movie adaptation of Umberto Eco’s novel ‘The Name of the Rose’, architecture plays an important role for the medieval tone and setting. The film director, Annaud, made every scene intense with “visual overkill”. Five scenes show the importance of architecture in relation to the plot and characters.

In the opening scene two monks are riding towards the monastery. The monastery is positioned atop a steep hill, amid deep valleys and snow capped mountains. The impressive medieval stone fortress architecture is foreboding, as the dark mass over-looks the two small travelers on the narrow path leading into the complex. The hulking gate portcullis is drawn up, and the two Franciscan monks are greeted by disturbed and grotesque Benedictine monastic residents. The resident host monks exaggerate physical and mental characteristics which are considered social defects. The two visitors are now held within the cold imposing ‘sanctuary’ enclosure of massive walls and imposing battlements. Although they should feel secure, the unsettling harsh structure creates an angst-filled atmosphere of fear.

Unity is present in the choir scene. There is an orderly placement of seats in long rows, and the acoustics allow for blissful escape from more mundane routines and problems. When the monks are not gathered in this space for spiritual singing, the harshness of real life returns. The choir seats are narrow wooden benches with ornate carvings, and the back rows are raised along both walls of the holy hall. Ribbed vaulting creates echoing acoustics. 

The scriptorium of the library is ordered like a modern office, with a system of desks like pews, all facing one direction. The desk orientation prevents conversation and directs attention to a leader. The scriptorium is filled with a multitude of books and manuscripts, and they work on them on the desks. The arrangement of desks is dictated also by rows of short, round pillars with gothic capitals. 

The catacombs are a dark reminder of the Christianity’s past. Human skulls are stacked in rows. The halls are dark and damp, with dreary decor. The heroes must make their way with torches, for no natural light enters these halls of the dead. The architecture is simple, crude, and random; with small coves in the walls to house remains of bodies.

The locked library is a labyrinth in the tower, and it is where the climax occurs. Piranesi and Escher designed scenes of similar mysterious and chaotic stairs, with seemingly impossible connections. Hexagonal rooms filled with books lead off in four directions, while the action bombards our senses. Staircases drape from the shafts of the tower, and each of them branches off into countless rooms; all of which are almost identical. There are puzzles to be solved with logic and education. The labyrinth represents the workings of the confused, twisted, and guarded medieval mind. When the library is burned, it shows how fragile and fleeting history can be, despite our attempts to preserve the past and learn from it in the present.

SCOD Urban Architecture Notes

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Book Reports, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Historic Architecture, Languages, Politics, Pub Library, Recommendations & Tributes, SCOD Online School, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2020 by Drogo

American architecture has ‘plurality and duality’. We have a variety of expression with scales of space and attitude, for the rich and poor. We have a modern design duality of rectilinear and organic architecture. Rectilinear modernists have been influenced by: Gropius, Loos, Corbu, Mies, Meier, Kahn, and Johnson. Organic modernist heroes are fewer, and there are fewer of us: Wright, Moss, Gehry, Solari, and Predock.

New Urbanist sprawl still faces the problems of commercialism vs community. Their planning principles have helped us to have more mixed-use zoning, but we still have the problems of Capitalism in decline, with an expanding lower class, destroyed middle class, and imperial upper class. New developments in Maryland and West Virginia seem to ignore the problems of population debt infrastructure, ecological devastation, agricultural decline, and transportation congestion all for the sake of profit.

Moynihan said our cities were ‘soulless’, like Diogenes he was holding a lamp for architectural self-examination. Cities are not as safe as we would like, and we should always remember their epitaphs are too often ‘military target’. Violence and migration are the main problems of our ‘urbane’ urban design. We have so often been wrong in our problem solving, it is clear we need to learn more from our past patterns of tradition. The corruption in politics that creates bad planning, can only be countered by an aware and active population willing to conspire and protest more than the elites can bribe, to bring attention to values which cannot be bought. 

‘A Pattern Language’ by Chris Alexander explains how architecture is about relationships. There are many cultural associations and historical traditions that can be better than soulless sterile machines for living. Architecture is sculpture for living, and we should not ignore sociology and heritage for the sake of industrial convenience to serve a consumer society that is destroying our global environment for profit. Yes we should have standards for structures that are able to shelter us without collapsing, but sustainability must also include the arts and nature.

 

References:

American House Now‘ by Doubilet & Boles

Better Places‘ Chapter in ‘Geography of NoWhere’

‘Pattern Language’ Relationships by Chris Alexander

New Urbanism, Second Generation‘ by Beth Dunlap

The Soulless City‘ by Moynihan

 

 

 

 

Architect Antoni Gaudí

Posted in Crafts, Historic Architecture, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2018 by Drogo

Antoni Gaudí cathedral

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was a Spanish Catalan artistic architect of the Modernista movement. Most of Gaudi’s work is located in Barcelona Spain. Gaudi studied skeletal anatomy, color theory, Art Nouveau, and sculptural arts to inform his architectural designs. His architecture integrated trade-crafts like ceramics, stained glass, wrought iron, masonry, and carpentry. Gaudi’s ‘trencadís’ technique used scrap ceramic pieces in organic mosaic forms. Gaudí preferred building scale models, rather than drafting drawings. Gaudí’s masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família Cathedral, is said by Wikipedia to be the most-visited monument in Spain. Seven of his works are World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

*photos belong to whoever they belong to, thanks for taking them whoever did!

Antoni Gaudí CasaBatllo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Antoni Gaudí maxres

Antoni Gaudí detail

 

 

 

 

Romanesque and Gothic Architecture

Posted in Historic Architecture, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2017 by Drogo

Cathedral Architecture of the Middle Ages

Romanesque cathedrals were based on Roman basilica designs, with thick walls and high ceilings. Engineering innovations like Gothic arches, flying buttresses, and keystone vaulting allowed for higher and larger expanses. Stain-glass windows and sculptures were integral parts of Gothic style; Cathedrals had exterior demons and interior angels. Water spout sculptures were called gargoyles and grotesques were ornaments to ‘ward off evil’ in much the same way comedic caricatures and scary decoration do at traditional festivals like Halloween. By embracing cultural demons in some form, the stress of Sin has less power for some; while scaring others into obedience, lest they get captured by demons outside. The inner sanctum of the church was where God protects his followers.

Temple of Artemis Medusa at Corfu

Posted in Historic Architecture, Pagan with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by Drogo

In Ephesus, Turkey

erected 580 BC

Artemis Corfu

 

This Doric Temple sculpture is similar to the more famous larger Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, in that its columns are numerous, although shorter. The actual temple walls are confined to a zone framed by two full bays of columns. The pediment acts as a shield gable for the wooden roof rafters inside. The pronounced relief sculpture in the center of the pediment, overlaps the frame and dominates the scene with bold detail, and expressive yet balanced quasi-symmetrical arrangement. The main figure is not Artemis (as we know her), but Medusa (a gorgon). Medusa and the lions by her side, ward off evil. Medusa is a frightening apotropaic hex sign indeed, with her archaic hideous grin and muscular appendages positioned athletically; as her wings fan out behind her. Greeks were able to convey movement in art, without actual locomotion. The style here also reflects an oriental scheme, inherited from ancient Mycenaean architecture. There is also an ongoing narrative represented with smaller figures presenting an uneasy balance.

Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Apollo was her twin brother. In Rome she was called Diana. Artemis began as a powerful Queen Goddess of Fertility; but eventually became known as the Virgin Moon Goddess of the Hunt during the Hellenic Age. She assisted child-birth, and protected young humans and animals. As Goddess of the Hunt, she is associated with animals like bears, birds, dogs, deer, and snakes. In Arcadia she was related to Demeter and Persephone, and sometimes confused with Hecate and Selene. Ephesus was the important center of her cult, with several buildings dedicated to Artemis. Artemis was originally represented as having many breasts, inherited from prehistoric fertility goddesses. Artemis was worshiped as a primary goddess in other places too, like Attica (Lady of the Labyrinth) and Aegina (Artemis Aphaia).

 Medusa sculpt

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Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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Palladian Bridge near Bath at Prior Park

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Historic Architecture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by Drogo

Palladian Bridge at Prior Park near Bath, England

This tribute to the Prior Park Bridge is dedicated to the memory of Architect Kip Stowell

This picturesque landscape architecture folly exists in at least 3 different locations in England. The original ‘Palladian Style’ Bridge is at Wilton [near Salisbury], put up in 1737 to the design of Lord Pembroke, the ‘Architect Earl’, and his assistant, Roger Morris. The second tribute to Palladio was built at Stowe in 1742. This was one near Bath was the last of the 3 built.

The Claymont Community

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Historic Architecture, Spiritual, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by Drogo

A Review of the Claymont Society for Continuous Education

Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, West of Washington DC, an organic spiritual community resides at Claymont Court. Claymont Court Mansion was built on hundreds of acres of rural land by a relative of George Washington in 1820. In 1974 John Bennet founded the Claymont Society there. The historic estate and grounds remain secluded, yet accessible and maintained thanks to the good people at the Claymont Community.

Claymont Community members attend their regular Society meetings, where they participate in group activities, cook, serve, eat, and clean up together. Also they have various projects, events, and maintenance duties which are usually decided by democratic or social consensus. These responsibilities insure that the community is maintained, and income is received from donations, workshops, seminars, retreats, and events. Their spiritual philosophies are based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff and John Bennett.

Various individual members of the community through-out the years, have brought their own interests, practices, and personalities to Claymont. The Mansion and School (“Barn”) are the largest structures on the property, but there are also collections of smaller dwellings scattered within, and on the outskirts of the land. The foods that they grow, make, use, and serve on site are mostly organic and vegetarian in nature. Although the school for children is no longer in operation, they have a very successful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that is cooperative with the surrounding area farmers’ markets.

Their mission was: “To promote a way of life that is balanced, harmonious, and uses our full potential while being responsible to nature.”

Their vision was: “A community where people interact using all human faculties to their fullest, in a spirit of cooperation. A harmonious educational environment that utilizes an understanding of nature, conscious awareness, and synergy created by a ‘milieu’ of unconditional love, to improve the quality of life on this planet.”

From my experience attending the Claymont School as a child, living and working with them for a brief time, and from my continued communications; I believe they succeeded, and continue to succeed in their mission and vision statements. I attempted to make a transfer to their communal way of life, and fully believed I was ready, however there were factors I had not considered, which led to me backing out. The factors that stopped me from making the transition to live there full-time were mostly Capitalist issues. My Capitalist issues that deterred me were regarding loan payments on a new car, needing a functional car to have to try to pay my college loans, and then there were previous personal obligations, responsibilities, and interests. However despite my limited part-time commitment to Claymont, I continue to believe that they are a model that more of us living in corporate mundane housing should strive for or support in any way possible.

Here is the proposal I wrote for the Claymont Society to consider me for residency, which they accepted:

A Claymont Proposal for Habitation

Noble Intent”

I have noble intent in as far as having “the will to discover an imperishable Reality beyond the changes and chances of this mortal world”.  Bennett used this description of human ‘will’ for his definition of ‘spiritual’, calling it “man’s noblest quality”. This quest for truth can be seen in relation to the 18th century view of man as a noble savage on the path of “spiritual psychology”. This ‘Noble Intent’ that I have, cannot be less noble than accepting in the modern world use of human technology as part of Nature. (see J.G. Bennett’s A Spiritual Psychology, Preface)

The following are my answers to a series of questions regarding habitation and work at Claymont:

1)         A short bio

…. (not included in this public version)

2)    Why do you want to move here?

I was not brought forth from the hills of Harpers Ferry to merely accept the system of the conventional mundanes, that surround and threaten Claymont.  This was first exemplified through my early educational systems: from Montessori, to public-school gifted programs, the Claymont School, the Banner School,  Catholic high-school and beyond through college studies.

3)    What ideas for community contributions / work projects do you have?

Architecture:               Interior and Exterior renovations and restorations at the mansion, private houses, barns, & future property structures

–           designing and documentation through drawing and photo images

–                      construction work; solo, organizing help, and / or contracting

–                      contributing to the writing of records for systems of the “whole”

Landscape:      Agriculture, gardening, design assistance, roadway maintenance, terrain drainage, etc…

–           CSA

–           Mansion & barns

–           private dwellings and public ways

4) Are you sane? (additional question by John Henry)

An interesting and worthy question of my own sanity, will be answered pertaining to the two forms of psychology as described by Bennett (and as answered by myself).  If you believe in sanity, perhaps there is some insanity about that.  In regards to “clinical psychology” I believe I am stable enough to be sane most of the time, and have never committed any crimes that are deemed by U.S. courts to be insane.

My failings in sanity are best addressed in accordance with Bennet’s “do-it-yourself psychology” which is a practical, yet also spiritual psychology.  Maintenance of my sanity is achieved regularly by commitment to action (or will), by myself both physically and mentally; sometimes with the assistance of others; to work on myself, “in search for the imperishable Real” and experience of the NOW. I cannot explain in words, my full feelings as to why I want to live and work at Claymont, only that I want to based on all of my previous thoughts and experiences. I think that hoping that I can fit into a community similar to myself is sane, and perhaps both can be improved by the experience, if even only slightly more than before the effort was made.

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some friends of Claymont during a music festival event in 2003 (?)

visit the Claymont Official Website

or read another account of Claymont

Thomas Jefferson’s Landscape Architecture

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Book Reports, Historic Architecture, Nature Studies, Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by Drogo

Essay on the Organic Design Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson

Interdisciplinary Concerns of a Colonial Landscape Architect:

Architecture, Agriculture, Botany, Horticulture, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Geology, Entomology, and Zoology

 

Ruins of architecture help to distinguish historic landscape architecture from organic terrain that may or may not have been influenced by human designs. Masonry is perhaps the most enduring milestone when it comes to lasting remnants of changes we have made to our landscape. Plants, animals, and soils are more organic and form-shifting. Organic elements of landscape designs change annually as their elements grow, die, or move.

 

Keeping a landscape design controlled even to the desired proportions is virtually impossible. Plants are almost always too small, too big, or in the wrong spot. Trees provide the most for us: shade, nuts, berries, shelter, shade, fuel, etc… but they are also capable of great destruction as well if trunks or branches fall upon animals or architecture.  An understanding of relative growth proportions in the environment can go a long way towards ease of maintenance.

 

Most Americans know Thomas Jefferson as a Founding Father first, and second as architect and politician; but few know of his feelings and designs towards Landscape. Landscape designers were called “Master Gardeners” or “Landscape Gardeners” back then. We know from his writings that his primary influences were English Gardens and Classical Architecture. He was well versed in contemporary French and English literature and philosophy, and experienced various landscapes during his travels.

 

Thomas Jefferson never fully accepted any one style or tradition. Although he was familiar with the Colonial mundane rectangular yard gardens, he was always innovating new hybrid ideas. Jefferson’s accumulated knowledge of surveying, architecture, climate, plants, and soil gave him tools beyond most other landscape gardeners. Jefferson’s approach to landscape design included both ornamental and utilitarian concepts regarding species, form, and layout.

 

As a child, Jefferson was home schooled in ancient literature and classical music. Learning also took place out-of-doors and so he came to love nature with infinite fascination. Jefferson developed his knowledge of the natural environment from first hand experience as well as books. In 1760 he attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where he founded a secret burlesque society known as the “Flat Hats” with a group of friends.

 

Jefferson became a devotee of improving American design with an open mind to World designs, and the natural environment of each site. He believed in contour plowing, as designing with nature was beautiful and practical. As he began traveling he embraced Palladian Architecture. These influences are evident later in his home, Monticello, when we see the geometric architecture combined with organic landscaping.

 

According to his “Garden Book”, he was able to bud-graft cherry trees, and started planting at Monticello 2 years before be began building the house. During this time he was also practicing law (represented 68 cases). In his gardens he planted forwardest peas, midling peas, asparagus, strawberries, purple hyacinth, narcissus, carnations, Indian pink, marygold, globe amaranth, auricular, double balsam, tricolor, Dutch velvet, sensitives, cockscomb, Prince’s feather, lathyrus, lilac, Spanish broom, umbrella, laurel, almond trees, muscle plumb trees, and Cayenne pepper. Monticello means “small mountain”. He fit it upon a terraced hill with rectangular and serpentine designs. In his notes he showed plans for garden olitory, pleasure grounds, spirals, and curves. Both Monticello and University of Virginia have a “temple” with colonnades that embrace a courtyard. The Monticello courtyard is Egg shaped because of the paths and hill, although both cloisters are rectangular.

 

Some conclusions can be drawn about the study and practice of Thomas Jefferson’s landscape architecture. Nature is a contractor for landscape architecture, because plant production in landscape was like human production in buildings. Designs are judged by their “finished product”; so in landscape architecture, products include flowers, fruits, and vegetables. His preferred building block was brick, but he made exceptions for wood and earth. He built several pise’ (mud packed in wooden forms) with General John Cocke at Bremo plantation. Jefferson believed that log and chinking was better insulated than scantling (wood frame) and plank siding. He believed it was foolish to ignore foods that grow easily nearby. “Useful” was his most used word.

 

Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, and it was not until 1899 that Landscape Architecture was considered a profession by society. His only complete book “Notes on the State of Virginia” remains one of the most comprehensive observations of natural environmental conditions.

 

Reference: Thomas Jefferson Landscape Architect by Nichols and Griswold

 

CAHOKIA: North America’s Largest Woodhenge & Temple Mound

Posted in ecovillages, Historic Architecture, Pagan, Trips with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by Drogo

CAHOKIA MOUNDS PARK

Cahokia Mounds is currently a State Historic Site. Cahokia is the area of an ancient city built around 600–1400 CE. It is near present day Collinsville, Illinois across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri.

The Cahokia Mounds were named after a clan of historic Illiniwek people living in the area when the first French explorers arrived in the 17th century. As this was centuries after Cahokia was abandoned by its original inhabitants, the Cahokia were not necessarily descendants of the original Mississippian people. The city’s original name is unknown.

The 2,200 acre site originally included 120 man-made earthwork mounds over an area of six square miles, although only 80 survive. Cahokia Mounds is the largest archaeological site related to the Mississippian Late Woodland culture, which developed advanced societies in North America, centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

It is a National Historic Landmark and designated site for state protection. In addition, it is one of only twenty UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the territory of the United States. It is the largest American Indian earthen construction in the Americas north of Mexico.

They used woven baskets to move most of the earth to build the mounds and plazas. In every culture there are usual social, political, spiritual, and defense reasons to place buildings on raised bases. In the case of Cahokia, there is an added reason: the site is on a flood plain near the Mississippi River.

Monks Mound

Monks Mound is the largest structure and central focus of the city. It is a massive mound with four terraces, 10 stories tall, and the largest man-made earthen mound north of Mexico. Facing south, it is 92 feet high, 951 feet long and 836 feet wide.

Excavation on the top of Monks Mound has revealed evidence of a large building, likely a temple used by the Chief and shaman for residence and public functions. This building was about 105 feet long and 48 feet wide, and could have been as much as 50 feet high. It was about 5,000 square feet.

Cahokia Woodhenge

This woodhenge, like others found in Europe, was a circle of posts used for cosmic alignments relevant to agriculture. It stood to the west of Monk’s Mound. Archaeologists discovered Woodhenge during excavation, and noted that the placement of posts marked solstices and equinoxes. Woodhenge was rebuilt several times during the urban center’s roughly 300-year history. There were probably other woodhenges in America over the centuries, as one was discovered near Mound 72, south of Monks Mound.

A beaker found in a pit near the winter solstice post bore a circle and cross symbol that for many Native Americans symbolizes the Earth and the four cardinal directions. Radiating lines probably symbolized the sun, as they have in countless other civilizations. During excavation of Mound 72, archaeologists found a birdman burial for a leader, and 250 other skeletons from around 1000 CE. Other mounds had workshops for copper smiting and trading.

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Stink Bug Update

Posted in Historic Architecture, Nature Studies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by Drogo

In Harpers Ferry 2010, less stink bugs have invaded Stowell Galleries than in the past few years; due to an extra cold winter start and new architectural renovations taking place.

1. Sewing and Patching tears in screens for windows & doors

2. Spraying & Cleaning window sills

3. Caulking windows & door frames

4. Caulking Roof leaks

5. Fascia & Soffit board repairs

6. Air conditioning units better sealed around edges and closing vent valve to the outside.

All these measures seem to have had an effect on the amount of invading stink bugs.

Suburban Sprawl: The Cookie-Cutter Row Housing Epidemic

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Historic Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Drogo

Suburban Sprawl: The Cookie-Cutter Row Housing Epidemic

Five types of urban row housing have spread like a plague into the countryside, thus turning pastoral farmland into suburbs and slums.

1. Townhouses – all houses literally jammed up against eachother

2. Tract Housing – all houses almost jammed up against eachother

3. Duplexes – 2 houses jammed up against eachother in pairs

4. Condos – Apartment Complexes

5. McMansions – huge gaudy mansions crowded on a small lot of land

The selling factor for these crap homes is AFFORDABILITY.

It is cheap for the builders to develop an entire farm field.

It is cheap for new home buyers to buy them, relative to real homes.

Through increased taxes, the county can then begin improving infrastructure.

That is where the benefits end.

Here are the negative effects of SHITTY DEVELOPMENTS:

1. Destruction of farmland

2. Destruction of wild habitats for animals

3. Transforming all rural land into suburban sprawl, which leads to urban slums

4. Overpopulation pollutes all the natural resources over time

5. The infrastructure is always playing “catch-up” to the overpopulation demands

6. Historic Landmarks are destroyed or crowded around destroying their landscape

7. Deer overpopulate due to lack of natural predators and hunting grounds, therefore most are free to eat and poop in yards, spreading Lyme disease; and then wandering and jumping across roads adding to automobile accidents.

8. Aquifers run dry due to increasingly high demands for tap water

9. Traffic jams on an urban scale

10. With the rate of growth all these problems and more become exponential

The problems with the actual crappy card-board homes are numerous as well:

1. Standard Housing, can easily be substandard with hasty construction

2. Poor planning even by Urban Standards

3. Urban Standards are applied to a Rural Setting

4. Materials are often sub-par

5. Labor is often sub-par

6. Continual Fixes after completion will be expensive

7. Urban population density creates social problems endemic to a city

8. County government will raise utilities and taxes to meet the new demands

9. The housing is “cheap”, but still over-priced based on bubble-economics

10. Architectural quality and pride in craftsmanship is dead

(full list still being compiled)

Conclusion: Frank Lloyd Wright knew it was better to build a few separate Apartment Towers, with gardens and farmland between them, than to over-crowd our beautiful landscape with stuffy, unimaginative shit boxes.

Hilltop Hotel Ruins 2010

Posted in Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2010 by Drogo

Hilltop Hotel Ruins 2010


Multi-Million Dollar Terrorists did this, by purchasing the Hotel and then without negotiation, condemning it. Then without talking to the architect of the 2000 Master Plan, designed something 3x the size (from scale drawings) after this is demolished.

Oh and removing a central beam from the porch without replacing it helped alot. Why not help demolition along? Holding a landmark property hostage, without real negotiation of design, it is treated as disposable for corporate greed. It shows disdain for the local community, common among out-of-town big-buck investors.

So much for historic preservation and a place for lower income people to visit (like Appalachian Trail Hikers). So much for the Presidential Green Award that was given to the Hotel in the 1990’s. So much for Sustainable Maintenance improvements and designs. So much for Environmental Eco-Cabins, earth-sheltered into the historic hillside. So much for local architects being respected.

Hello Bribes!

Welcome Bubble economics and Madeoff schemes! So long ghosts of an old building that few professionals would touch. Perhaps those ghosts will continue to haunt the grounds. Perhaps after demolition, the property will be sold to Middle Class Americans, like the original family that built it, the Lovetts. And perhaps someday, that family can start from scratch, with one house, open to all.

For the right way to handle the Hilltop House Hotel property, read this article:  The Historic Hilltop House, Revisited

Brown Stink Bug Plague

Posted in Historic Architecture, Organic Gardens, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2010 by Drogo

The Brown Marmorated Asian Soldier Shield Stink Bug

Kingdom: Animal

Phylum: Arthropods

Class: Insect

Insect Order: Hemiptera

Family: Pentatomidae

Genus: Halyomorpha

Species: Halys

*

aka

“The Dreaded Brown Stink Bug”

For 4 years now, the Brown Stink Bug has infested many of our homes in the metropolitan DC area. Some comfort can be gleaned from knowing we are not alone, they do not attack humans, they do not eat everything, they can be killed, and they are not poisonous. Never-the-less these pests are awful nuisances due to their over-population, ability to get into houses, and tendency to release foul odor anytime they are alive and when they die. This odor is not just unpleasant for humans, but it acts as a odoriferous beacon to other brown stink bugs.

Brown stink bugs are hemiptera (half-wing) insects. Like the Nezara viridula or Acrosternum hilare (two varieties of Green Stink Bug), it is plant-seed feeding. Both green and brown stink bugs are in the same Family of Pentatomidae Hemiptera. Why are the indigenous green stink bugs not invading us in our homes? The green stink bug is very easy to control with pyrethroids, Orthene, Bidrin, methyl parathion and Vydate. The brown stink bugs seem to be more resistant to our pesticides. The green ones came from Africa hundreds of years ago, and the brown ones are from Asia. Both were stowaways in crates.

Brown Stink Bugs lay eggs on the underside of plant leaves. They love to reproduce on Soybean plants, and those are more common than ever before. The practice of bringing plants inside during the winter worsens the epidemic, as eggs can be already laid on the plants while they were outside. They lay masses of 10-100, barrel-shaped compact eggs.

Stink bugs are susceptible to insecticides that were used to spray boll weevils. From the success of boll weevil eradication, Bt cotton and the use of more selective insecticides for plant bugs, we’ve opened a window for other resilient bugs like brown stink bugs. DDT would do the trick, but it’s all a question of how willing we are to poison ourselves in the process.

Expert exterminators recommend a mixed approach to defending against bug problems. I will recommend an approach as non-toxic as I can.

1. Clean and caulk around windows and places they might have gotten into the house

2. Spray Frebreeze de-odorizer on surfaces

3. If more bugs come, try to gently collect them and toss them outside (so they wont fearfully spray their stink, or release it from dying inside). This does not work that well on numerous bugs, as they can leave a scent behind on anything they land on. Killing them immediately may be the better solution, considering each one is a potential breeder, and if released is free to spray more. Once you kill them, clean up after them!

4. Continue the first three steps with patience. If one generation of bugs is released in a house, it will be years before extermination will have any affect. More bugs will continue to want entrance to the house because of the mass odor from the last batch. Also they seek warmth inside any structure.

They have invaded historic homes, as well as new homes. They can enter air conditioning units, not just cracks in siding or open doors or windows. There is no quick fix to an invasion. Even praying mantis don’t like them.