LATE POST: Gupta India

Throughout the history Indians were tend to subtract or carve spaces into rocks than to built them from zero. So that, in time subtraction took the basis of their architectural intention and put forward a relation between man-made and natural elements in which the natural elements and topography used as materials or design problems. Since their structure relied on what nature provided, the inclusion of columns were needed to strengthen the structure. In the time of Gupta India they made great cave monasteries, rock-cut temples carved from single masses and the first significant masonry temples built like pyramids over small sanctuaries.
The beliefs in India have multiplied, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism etc. This let pilgrimage shrines and relics to gain greater importance than political centers. Buddhists commissioned chaitya halls (a Buddhist prayer hall with a stupa at one end, resembles early Christian basilicas in plan due to its axiality and columns around the hall) and monasteries but only few were built in permanent materials. Caves at Bhaja are one of the earliest examples. They combined wooden tradition with stone architecture. One entered this chaitya hall from an horse-shoe arched entry (known as gavakshas similar to those used in Islamic culture) and upper level of interior was carved like a barrel vault. At the end there stood a cylindrical pedestal. Another example is Karli caves, differing from Bhaja temples designers combined stone with wooden details around clerestory windows and door. Sculpted animal figures stood as the guardians of the temple.

Post-Gupta Dravidian Temples

After the fall of Gupta dynasty because of the Hun invasions, Chalukya dynasty emerge as the new power. Works of this era showed the evolution of rock-cut temples to constructed ones.  The Durga temple has an oblong form with rounded corners. It’s plan derived from chaityas but this time it was not a structure carved into stone cliffs but constructed. Designers raised a pyramidal  tower, using thin, horizontal layers.
The Dravidian temple architecture appeared intrinsically sculptural, developed from rock-cut caves into mounded piles. The temples at Mahabalipuram indicated the transition from carved out monolithic works to masonry structures built of joined stones. The Pandava ratha at Mahabalipuram included five buildings surrounded by rectangular walls. Four of the temples had a linear organisation each carved out from a single stone but looked like they had been built from pieces. They were among the first structural temples built in durable materials in this region.

LATE POST: Ottoman Architecture


Constantinople Becomes Istanbul

After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II, the city quickly started to develop an Islamic identity while preserving its Greek legacy. After the conquest, with the encouragement of migrations to new capital he built the markets of Kapali Çarsi to boost merchant activities and similar to the Koza Han it had square bays enclosed with rounded domes. The young sultan was highly impressed by both cultural and technological innovations of Italy and his fortifications showed the influence of Italian engineering as seen in Rumeli Hisar’s round towers .
Mehmet II converted Hagia Sophia into a royal mosque as his great prize by adding a minaret and mihrab. Later on he built a new mosque called Fatih Cami inspired by this Byzantine church. His new mosque had an hemispherical dome and a semi-dome placed to carry the larger dome on the east side of the great dome while those on the other sides were capped with three smaller domes. The two slender minaret took place at the corners of the most leading to a rectangular forecourt which is the same in diameter with the interior area.  The voussoirs were embellished red and white masonry like that of Cordoba. He extended the area as a plaza which took the mosque as its center and its scale approximated that of the great courts of the Forbidden City in Beijing and the barrel vaults which were already in the area remained from an earlier Byzantine cistern served as the foundation of the terraced complex.
He commissioned to the palace complex of Topkapi, this private realm appeared unlikely of European palaces, asymmetrical and more like a garden than a building.  The connection between natural and man-made elements besides the framed views of Bosporus are the well taught features of the complex which makes it more similar to a Chinese scholar’s garden than an Italian palazzo. The first entrance to the place was Yhe Imperial Gate from this gate to the second there stands a path with randomly placed trees. The middle gate has pencil point turrets placed on octagonal towers. Beyond this point there were the Court of Processions, Diwan and harem etc.

Sinan and the Challenge of Hagia Sophia

Sinan (mentioned in an earlier post) built several mosques and imarets by using marble-clad minarets and cupolas within narrow streets and densely placed wooden houses. An imaret for Hürrem, the Haseki Hürrem complex has a mosque covered with a single hemispherical dome and an hospital and institution for women with an unusual octagonal court.
The Şehzade Cami built in honor of sultan’s elder son Mehmet, has a central dome which was abutted by for semi-domes. four buttress tower and four smaller domes at the corner framed the square forecourt.
Süleymaniye is one of his masterworks. The central dome is nearly as large as its Byzantine prototype (Hagia Sophia). Similar to the Şehzade Cami four octagonal towers rose at the corners of the dome. They carry the major load of the dome as pinnacles used in Gothic architecture. The Süleymaniye Cami complex covered relatively less area than Fatih’s imaret.  Seven madrasas stood at the edges each with a courtyard.
The largest mosque of Sinan, Selimiye has a dome which is slightly larger than Hagia Sophia and has the tallest minarets ever in all Islam world. On the facade facing courtyard he used narrow and wide bays in a rhythmic order that leads to a kind of Ottoman characterization.

LATE POST: Humanist Italy

After the renewal of renaissance in the lands of Europe, humanism became a trend which turned out to be a governing movement for Architecture and gave rise to a new style highlighting symmetry, proportions and classical columns. All-antica details are observed intensely in the products of this era yet they went beyond of copying the past, but discovering the key principles of design. They reevaluated the significance of the city for people and its role for the dream of an ideal city.

Wealthy families of Florence used architecture for showing their wealth and spread fear to their enemies and started a new trend of private palaces. As seen in the works of this time they had some very strict proportions and symmetry in which they had a new perspective vision for architecture which shaped the public space, Piazz della Signoria and one could see the the the landmarks of a city in relation with others.
The cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore has been exposed to a very gradual construction. It was first designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in Gothic style clear in its ribbed vaults. Later on Francesco Talenti made the length of the nave longer and defined an area for an octagonal dome and intended to make it very large in scale to go beyond of the domes of other cities. His dome was influenced by the baptistery of San Giovanni but this became a more curved design. Urban magistrates of the city even legislated that the houses around were to rebuilt with stone cladding to adjust themselves to the dome the cathedral. There were serious problems due the proportions of the dome and Flippo Brunelleshi took charge of the project with a solution in which a dome can support itself during the construction without several of wooden supports. He succeed it through ingeneous masonry techniques and  horizontal supports. At the and dome had a Gothic character with its pointed end but Brunelleschi added all-antica details to the exterior.

Brunelleschi designed another dome in 1419, the dome of the Old Sacristy. I had a tomb in the center of the room for the patron and his wife beneath the dome to be designed. He designed a dome in a cubic base divided in twelve round-arch ribs placed by pendentives. It took my attention that Brunelleschi often used a umbrella-like dome rather than one smooth hemisphere. The Corinthian pilasters covered the altar niche.  He later commissioned to an hospital. The facade of the hospital had Corinthian columns as seen in many projects of him and behind an elevated logia (above head height) at the entrance and set a courtyard behind with long halls. The central bay had a arch with resembles the triumphal arches. In another project of him, Pazzi Chapel he again refers to an triumphal arch in the design of its porch.
Brunelleschi and Michhelozzo ensured a coherent precision for a sacred space by practicing an all-antica environment in the interior of the church of San Lorenzo. As expectedly he uses Corinthian columns and rounded arches inside. He found a way for correcting the plaement of entablature above a row by not putting it directly on the capital of a column but on a chunk placed on the capital.

On the following stages of the period they showed brilliant samples of stone cladding used for private palaces varied through texture differences and scale. All those private palaces shared near scales to each and they all were made of stone but differing in detail but in short they had many common aspects. In the Palazzo Medici Ricardi, Michelozzo made clear references to the earlier palace Palazzo Vecchio. They were both very tall cubic formed structures. Michelozzo elevated the ground level of the palace more than 1 meter above the street level to enhance the illusion of its huge volume. On the facade texture of the cladding was changing in each level and cornice details and resembled those of Roman Forum’s. The plan of the palace in general is very close to a domus shows very apparent references of precedents. Palazzo Medici inspired many other following ones and they followed the enfilade space organization (aligned rooms on an axis) of this palace.Palazzo Rucellai with a similar facade implementation (as expected) was resembling those others. However unlike the Plazzo Medici it was not totally made of stone, but the front facade, as a consequence of the ideal city thoughts of accommodating the structures to each other.

Ideal City 

There were several thoughts on creating an ideal city for the aim of renewal of renaissance. Among them the most accepted one of these ideas is the so-called ideal city panel attributed to Federico da Montefeltro put forwards a grid plan and harmonious collection of palaces which are all in similar scales overlooking to a piazza centered with a round church. The palaces built in this period such as Palazzo Medici or Palazzo Piccolomini which awere nearly identical are the samples of the execution of this idea.


LATE POST: Western Europe After Roman Empire

Monks, Knights and Pilgrims

After the reign of Roman Empire in Europe, some territories appeared as a consequence of dissipated power. During this period popes played determining roles in European politics. Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman emperor, aimed to bring back the greatness and welfare of Roman Empire. His vision has affected many of following rulers and vastly affected the architecture for decades. He attributed his power to monasteries and supported their construction. His palace become the role-model of the architectural movement that he put forward. The architect highly inspired by Byzantine and Roman works. There are clear architectural statements similar to the viaduct like gateway used for connecting Hagia Sophia to imperial palace in Constantinople. In the courtyard there are statues taken from Ravenna to regenerate the Roman spirit. As a significant piece of the palace, the Palatine Chapel designed to be a mausoleum for the emperor, is a two storied octagonal form that refers to San Vitale in Ravenna. Here we see  one of the first of the differentiation of black and white voussoir used for arches resembling those in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
The imperial chapel’s two towers “monumental thresholds”  indicate that it didn’t stayed behind the often use of westworks (twin towered facade) that were shining out those times served mostly for a throne room for the emperor.One another westwork, Abbey of Lorsch offers a loaded examples of the Carolingian reinterpretation of ancient styles through it’s similarity to a triumphal arch both as its function and structure. There are some other attempts like the red and white sandstone panels rotated into a diamond shape on the facade.
The grid plan of the church of St.Gall is made of sixteen units illustrates the theoretical balance of the devotional life of prayer into equally divided spaces for monastic duties, agriculture and hospitality. It has a double-ender plan like the one seen in Charlemagne’s palace and proposing a two freestanding towers for its westwork. The arcaded cloister of the church represented the heart of the whole composition as serving to the main need of monks and being the central void which gathers other spaces around.
The architect of the Cluny III complex was a retired musician renowned as a musician and thus a master of proportions. The hyposytle hall church of the complex has a strong axiality. A square steeple rose over the crossing part of the church and octagonal tower studded the crossing of the second transept, creating a spiky, crown like profile. It’s nave was enclosed with pointed barrel vault nave.

Cistercians took attention with their modest style. The designers rejected decoration, relying on bare structure for their aesthetic pleasure. St.Augustine’s perfect ration of 1/2 controlled the elevations and ground plan:the width of the nave doubled that of the side aisles. They avoided monumental facades and only a simple bell tower rose over the apse. They eliminated the galleries above the side aisles and gave the windows clear panes instead of stained glass and constructed everything with smooth stones and vaulted ceilings.

The Norman Invasions: An Architectural Cross-Fertilization

Unlike their earlier role as destroyers of the monasteries, they became the most enthusiastic sponsors for rebuilding them since they founded it to reinforce their territorial control. The church of St. Etienne ‘s facade articulated with four thick buttresses with twin towers. The nave ad the aisles of the church displayed one of the first uses of ribbed groin vaults which later became an important element of Gothic architecture.
Normans built stone catles known as donjons. La Falaise one of the first stone donjons has a square solid volume with buttressed walls. Its boxy form gained a bit of eccentric diversity through the position of chapel, the apse of which protrudes from the south eastern corner.
Norman’s most ambitious commission of the Durham cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world. Like, St. Etienne it had a twin tower facade and ribbed vaults.
They later extended their borders a lot that the Muslim dominated city of Palermo became the capital of the kingdom. They transformed their alcazar into their new palace using a mixture of Arab and Byzantine styles with Byzantine mosaics next to cupolas with Arab inspired muqarnas. The most compelling case of Norman style appeared at the Abbey of Monreale. The entry facade had twin towers with a timber ceilinged interior resembling the early Christian basilicas. Classically proportioned Corinthian columns that carried Islamic inspired pointed arches showed the integration of cultures during the reign of Normans.

The Crusades: The Architectural Consequences of Christianity’s Holy War

Keeping the christian pilgrims in safe became a crucial reason of launching the crusades under the control of papal and royal supervision. They invaded the lands of Syria and Palastine to reclaim the land of Christ’s birth and sacrifice. This colonial adventure made the European cultures adopt an international perspective geared to conflict with non-Christians.  The castle building technology improved through the encounter between East and West. The tall and rectangular forms of European castles started to become rounded battlements.  In Pulgia, the Castle Del Monte appeared like a crown an octagonal prism with eight octagonal towers in such a sophistication resembling those of Hadrian.  Besides the indirect approaches within the structure similar to Arabic houses reveals the interaction in architecture that crusades generated.

Islamic Realms in Central Asia

The Dome of Power, The Garden of Paradise

During the periods of Seljuks, Safavids and Mughals, designers generated an immense heritage of domed architecture with little touches of Persian and/or Hindu styles.

The Persian Renaissance: From The Timurids to Safavids 

          Seljuks, as a nomadic culture in its previous times they often commissioned monuments taking references from Persian traditions and local artisans. However, they differed with their iwan-shaded courts and became prominent with their public spaces and funerary monuments.
The Mongolians were not settled at first but later they started to erect religious structures after they converted to Islam in Timur’s period. As one of the earliest samples, the Great Mosque of Bibi-Khanym has traces of Persian traditions in the use of arches. It is a hypo-style hall mosque made of marble columns. At the each corners designer placed slender minarets and also to the sides of the entrance iwan, pishtaq. The front facade of the mosque hides the dome like the influence used in Pantheon or Great Mosque of Isfahan. The Persian style capital Samarkand had mostly planned by Ulugh Beg who commissioned to an observatory and madrasas placed symmetrically around the Ragistan plaza.
Safavids in Iran integrated both Persion style and the monumental works of invaders and locals. They treated the capital Qazvin as a garden and made their urban plan based on this idea with a maydan, shah’s mosque, bridges and garden districts. The shah sponsored a caravansary at the entry of the city for pilgrims.This two story arcaded structure became the model for upcoming caravansaries. Although the street were shifting, the geometrical regularity gave the city a coolness and order. The palace Naqsh-i Jahan included a serious of geometrical gardens. One of the most distinctive part of the whole compound is the Ali Qapu with an elevated terrace which resembles ancient Greek temples. Shah Lutfallah Mosque is one of other significant works of the period. It has a dome placed on a tall drum to make it invisible even more. The iwan entry of the Mosque faces the Ali Qapu with acaded facade integrating itself with the palace complex.

The Mughal Empire: Islam Tinged with Indian Diversity
In India Mugals were under the influence of Persian architecture besides their use of Hindu style architectural elements. They used Persian architectural motives and models in relation with Hindu and Islamic traditions. They used architecure as a sign of power and authority and they sponsored a prodigious collection of fortresses, mosques, palaces and gardens etc.
The Tomb of Humayun has a lage enclosed paradise garden, chahar bagh. The designers used water channels lined with stones to be a representation of paradise the channel divides the garden in four parts with the mausoleum in the center. The Persian nine square plan (hasht bihisht) used both for the gardens of Mughals and for the city. The cupola like chhatris of Hindu culture used highly in Mughal structes as used in the Humayun complex. The complex consists madrasa and a kitchen and resemble the imarets of the Ottomans.
          Mughals constructed several of fortress palaces to defend from any kind of threats. Red Fort in Agre stands as a nice example and it, itself is likely of a city and shows a good work of red-masonry.


Early Ottoman Architecture

A culture of local symmetries

The Ottoman Turks settled in western Anatolia first and later on after the conquest of Constantinople they became the leading power of the Mediterranean between 15th and 18th century.

They gave importance to urban life and this led to the emergence of imaret a name for the compounds of a mosque, a tomb, a soup kitchen, a public bath and a religious school(madrasa). Each Ottoman sultan commissioned an imaret on his name which expedited the progress of urban life and architecture. The Ottomans placed a dome over every significant buildings leading to an internal order to emphasise regime’s authority. They embellished cities with great domes and minarets placed on hilltops. The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia, later transferred to a mosque, turned into a governing source of influence on Ottoman architecture. Sinan, the chief architect, impressed from Hagia Sophia and Byzantine samples and established an Ottoman style. Continue reading “Early Ottoman Architecture”

Southern India & Islamic Spain and Morocco


South East Asia and Southern India

Societies of Asia reflected their social hierarchy to their architecture and built monumental buildings for sacred spaces and palaces.
In India architects used mandala as a geometrical diagram for the basis of structures. Mandala is a Buddhist Hindu cosmic model influenced many of architectural subtractions of Indian inhabitants to built temples and sanctuaries. Mandala mostly is used to show the religious connection of political order. For instance,the plan of the Buddhist shrine of Borobudur was taking its references directly from mandala. It is an important sample as a successful realization of a 2D geometry on a 3D construct. The terrace of the temple was covered with statues and stupas (relatively small sacred spaces) so that it makes the men feel enclosed even if it is an open space. Continue reading “Southern India & Islamic Spain and Morocco”