Apr 3, 2019 in Exploratory

Architecture

Introduction

The taxonomic classification of some of the most common characteristics found in buildings is an interesting way of analyzing these pieces of art. Each building is always developed from an architectural model, carefully designed in order achieve its intended purposes. Depending on what a building would be used for, the various elements put together during construction must always complement each other in a rhythmic flow and hence achieve the desired symmetry. A building can always be associated with various categories, for instance the intensity of development in which case the building’s outlook brings out a clear transition from the natural or rural to the exceedingly urban. The degree of formality as well as the school of thought is another category with which buildings especially in urban areas can be associated. Observing the flows in the transitions that exist in buildings bring out one common trend, that individual characteristics in a structure always develop to form patterns. These patterns in turn relate the elements in a hierarchical manner across notable physical scales. The scales may range from small details to large systems. In this paper, we analyze a building typology with reference to Gilles Deleuze’s school of thought referred to as a “society of control”.

Highlight on Gilles’s School of Thought 

Gilles’ arguments takes us away  from Foucault’s described “disciplinary society” to a society where one is free to do whatever they want and have all the space to achieve that. Foucault’s disciplinary society was a school of thought which emphasized the society as confined environment where patterns and systems remained specific. The patterns would start from one end and lead in a specific direction to a given focal point. An example of a building which embodies the notion of a disciplinary society would be a classroom within a school.   A classroom offers a definite environment, within standard measures and distinct scales hence the presences of boundaries mostly characterized by walls and ceilings. This implies that the people inside a classroom cannot walk beyond a particular point. The noise within a classroom is containable owing to the presence of the boundaries. This suggests the aspect that the people within this particular space are restrained to walk and operate within that environment only. This typology is slightly different from others for instance a factory or a football field where despite the environment being larger, remains quite liberal. The machines within a factory are strategically placed and are stationary but the noise within the factory pierces through the building’s boundaries into the surrounding environment. Similarly, the wastes and pollutants overflow into the outer society. In this case we see interact with architectural pieces whose patterns and systems embody very little discipline and positive morals. However, in both a school and a factory, or perhaps a stadium, the bottom line aspect is that the people within are confined by enclosure structures.

Building Typology in Focus: Museums

A “society of control” as highlighted by Gilles comprises order and peace. The architectural designs, patterns and colors in such pieces often tend to complement the school of thought that the typology embodies. One core aspect of the society of control is the fact that people are presented with a wider space and hence allowed to do whatever they want. This notion therefore presents itself as some form of freedom.  In this theory, the people within are no longer restrained by enclosures and structures like the case in schools and the factory. However it would be prudent to note that the society of control doesn’t necessarily front for the emergence of poor morals among people. Despite the free space and the freedom to do whatever one wants, this school of thought still advocates for guidelines and rules which see to it that discipline remains the society’s key desire. In this paper, the typology in focus will be museums.

A museum does a splendid job in bringing the history of the world right at the feet of the current generation. It uniquely arranges the world according to the dynamic way in which we view it. As highlighted by Gilles. The museums offer a perfect platform through which viewers can interact with the architectural transitions from the medieval age to the current generation.  One of the most basic functions of a museum is to serve the public, which may also include researchers, with the right information. This information may be artistic, cultural, scientific or historical. The architectural designs therefore remain specific on achieving these values through the incorporation of the most effective and efficient elements during the building process. The architectural structures used within a museum emphasize on the importance of the building to make a variety of aspects available for exhibition to the general public and researchers alike. 

One major architectural consideration when putting up a museum would be its location. The museum ought to be easily accessible to the people hence the infrastructural designs surrounding the museum ought to complement this objective. Museums are considerably some of the busiest meeting points in various locations across the world. There is a constant activity of people moving in to, out of and within the museum. The systems used to develop the work are therefore strategically installed in the most effective patterns enabling this ease of movement. This explains why some of the largest and most attended museums are located in major cities and towns across the world. Even the more local ones do not exist far away from people but in small cities where the road networks are at hand to ensure accessibility. Some of the most popular museums include; Louvre in Paris, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, British Museum in London, the National Museum of China, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and  The National Gallery in London. The location of each of these museums best explains why they remain some of the most attended buildings in the world.

 

The second important architectural element in a museum that highlights the aspect of a society of control is the space. Rem Koolhaas in his detailed description points out the vital role of space in architecture. He notes that the amount of space consumed by an architectural design is directly synonymous to the typology in focus. For instance, the zoological museums comprise designs which put together both the virtual and natural elements within the vast available space. The availability of space within a museum adequately highlights Gilles’s explanations about architectural designs allowing people to “do what they want.”  The vastness within these structures is a symbol of freedom, an aspect that Gilles clearly brings out in his school of thought. The people who enter a museum have the freedom of space and time, of course within the building, to move to any location and enjoy the vision of whatever the museum offers. A museum is a typical example of Rem Koolhaa’s description of junk space. The structural patterns are directing and flow in a rhythmic manner which in turn enhances the movement within the museums. Furthermore, the materials are concrete and compact which implies the architectural design ensures the durability of the materials considered for building. Due to the need for space and the consistency of activity within a museum, the designs ought to be such that they can stand the test of time. For instance, the floors of the National Museum of China are made of durable concrete tiles. This explains why it has remained well furnished despite the high population of people constantly attending the museums. 

 Museums may vary from small institutions covering smaller scales to large institutions which comprise several categories engraved within a single space. Large museums tend to employ the exhibit design especially when it comes to environmental and graphic design projects. The two methods used in museums that embody the aspect of a society of control include: the use of authentic artifacts and the metonymy technique. The tendency to substitute the name of an attribute for that of the thing that is meant is a popular architectural technique especially in Holocaust museums. For instance, this technique is employed in the United States Holocaust Memorial museum in its shoe exhibition. This design comprises a bare gray concrete wall upon which there is a pile of decaying leather shoes. This technique makes use of sensory and emotional response of the viewer. For instance, the metaphysical link between the old shoes and the surviving indication of the individual victim brings with it the intended metonymical significance. Hito Steryel emphasizes the notion that the technique employed within a museum plays a crucial role in instilling the desired impressions among the viewers. An effective technique would therefore offer a perfect link between the images and the daily situations in the society. For instance, the shoe exhibition above would bring to the attention of the viewers, the impacts of violence on a society. Consequently, this architectural technique does not only bring to us the history of the victims but also encourages the society to remain well controlled against violence and bloodshed.

On the other hand, Richard highlights that the use of authentic objects is a technique used by most if not all the large museums across the world. The degree of its use and the extent of the intention may however vary from one building to another. Use of authentic artifacts offers direction to the viewers; the tendency of the designs to lead the people culminates in a rhythmic flow of activities within the museum.  This aspect therefore indicates a society whose activities are well controlled by a vivid pattern put together by carefully mixing the right architectural ingredients.

Conclusion

With modernization, the fraternity of architecture is taking a whole new dimension all together. We are being treated to a variety of architectural masterpieces with varied typologies. However, it is a fact worth noting that the designs must always remain considerate to Gilles’ suggestions on the need to enhance control within a society. Despite the huge space and the ultimate freedom, there is still need to incorporate discipline as this alone would help the society to move with a clear intent. The architectural techniques and designs used in developing museums, stadiums, factories, schools and other institutions ought to have their goals directed at enhancing a society of control.

 

Related essays