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SOme months back, I'd told Gruhn that I'd post the link to an institute in California that teaches earth/ancient building techniques.
*Finally*, here it is: http://www.calearth.org
It's the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture.
Meanwhile, things here got "interesting" (i.e. nuts); now we're in the process of selling the house, moving to Houston, and getting a place to live there. As well as the usual things plus a couple new activities (I hate being bored). So I have some massive catch-up reading to do here...!
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- Kris M. Krieger

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- Kris M. Krieger


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Kris Krieger wrote:

Their institute is right up the freeway from me. I went there once to check it out, pretty interesting stuff. They use sand bags built up in arches and domes, along with a few other building techniques. I asked if they needed a volunteer, and they gave me the whole run around and wanted me to pay to work there or something (like a seminar of some sort), so I said forget it.
-- Night_Seer
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I'm jealous <g>

I guess they figured you were wanting to learn without taking classes. I think it'd be interesting.
The tough thing is that I like very much the rounded/organic feel of such structures, but I also like a lot of modern things.
Ideally, I'd like to blend earth structures and materials with the modern ones, the metal and glass/lexan. I have a vague, not really an image, more like a spatial montage, of things I would like in a place, but I've no training in art or design so I haven't been good with trying to bring it all together and give it a form (i.e. create a 3D model).
But it's all so cool IMO, structures I mean. How things go together, how the materials behave and look and interact with other materials, how structures remain structures rather than heaps of rubble. It irritates me so much that I stink at math, because it'd be really interesting to be able to actually figure these things out as part of a design and structure. Intuition and simple logic only go so far :( . ((I've tried time and time again to actually elarn Calculus - I just barely passed bothsemesters in University! - but I can't grasp it any better now than I could back then =>:-[ ))
OTOH, never thought about it before but maybe part of the appeal to me of old techniques is that they *were* done via intuition and logic, meaning, without Calculus.
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Kris Krieger wrote:

A question, I can understand *vector analysis* being important structurally, but where would one need calculus in architecture - aside from some sophisicated applications.
The structure Kris describes sounds like a load bearing +direction of load force issue, don't see much need for a derivative. Ken
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Ken S. Tucker wrote:

You need it to get your effin degree :)
Seriously though, for statics all I ever needed was trig it seems.
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[ ... ]

I dunno, that's just what I've always been told, that you have to have a lot of math to do architecture because, to do anything of any size, you have to be able to calculate all the stresses and strains etc. on all the components.

I wasn't really describing a structure, just a brief ramble about "earth- buildings" ;)
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Yeah, that is the common story.

To do anything of any size you have to hire a structural engineer.
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I wonder why, if it's itn't so? Maybe just people who don't know jack pontificationg as tho', so to speak, they know jack AND jill AND spot...

AH-HA!! So that's the secret! Well, thinking about it (I mean, as a lay person who doesn't know much), it makes sense, because of the degree of specialization required. There are new materials, and new designs, and the one skill (design) is more "right-brain" whereas the math is more left- brain; very few people are equally both and even at that, I guess one does have to develop and area of expertise lest one become a "jack of all trades and master of none".
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I met untold scores (at least half a dozen, total) of frosh who were in architecture because some h.s. "guidance professional" said "gee, you like to draw and you're good at math... you should go to architecture school." Don blames the kids. I blame the grown-ups.
I think there's also a non-zero number of "You wanna be a what?! An Artist! No kid of mine's gonna be a good for nothing pansy artist. Look, you're going to architecture. At they build stuff."
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gruhn wrote:

The classes we took in statics were basic, though technical. The professors would say we want you to know enough to know when something will or will not work, or if it might not work, try to work it out yourself, or give the engineers an idea of your special situation.
-- Night_Seer
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What myustifies me is, how did they figure these things out when things like the cathedrals, and older buildings, were put up.
I'm sure a lot of it was pure experience, but still, IMO it's a marvel.
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By looking at the ones that fell down.

Yup.
Do wonder about timber models etc.
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Makes sense, but it doesn't seem that ther were *a lot* of interim steps between modest structures, and those soaring intricacies of stone and glass and light. Some of these things will never cease to astound me (and also delight ;) ) The main reason I'd like to get to Europe some time is that I'd like to see Chartres and Westminster and so on - and on, and on... ;) Not that I'm all that educated about the details and so on, but simply because they are so amazing, all the more so because they rose up from conditions that nowadays, would cause only despair and crime, NOT hope and beauty.
They're so amazing that I'm waiting for some numbnut to claim they were built by extraterrestrials =8-O

You mean, whether they tried out someof the structures using timber first, and then dismantled the models and used the timber elsewhere?
I never thought of that...it's intriguing and it *would* make sense. One would think there would be some sort of historical record - well, maybe not...
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glass
Don't know which steps you are counting so it is hard to comment. BUT (and I'm having a hard time getting pictures on the web to confirm my first assertion) we'll go with the "it all started at St. Denis". And there, I think you'll find the modest in full display - fairly solid walls, small windows, low applied decoration. One of the big differences between modest and full gonzo in a gothic cathedral is the realization and the boldness to go through with that realization that the walls really really don't matter.
Then your big challenge is simply "how thin and how distant"? I wonder if / suspect that a new larger intuition of force lines was brought about by the gothic.
Also re: "not long" - there was an immediate lot of building in The New Style after the opening of St. Denis.
Some of the full gonzo appearance has little to do with structure and is just the sculptural froufrou.
Not saying it wouldn't be interesting to get inside some of their heads and see how they thought and when they knew and when they guessed.

I hear you there.

Sometimes being amazed is worth not being clinical.

Yeah. Cut blocks, make a sample vault... six foot tall.

I'd think elsewhere would be in the onsite smithy.

M'be, m'be not.
- gruhn
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I'm just going by the very general (and probably very incomplete) summaries I've seen in the few archetectural history books I've looked through...it's as tho' some genius figured out the flying buttress and then WHAMMO!!!

Which is (it seems to me) actually counter-intuitive. When I see pictures of the tall spires and the flying buttresses, my "instinctive feeling" is that they surely cannot stand - but stand they do. no matter how often I imagine them, I remain awed by the leap of pure genius, added in with the incredible pigheadedness, and genius of its own kind, it would take to carve all that stone, haul the things ever higher, fit them precisely into place, and have the thing stand for hundreds and hundreds of years (barring earthquakes).
Talk about Master Builders, wow...

That's a large part of my own ponderings - to the best of my knowledge (which admittedly ain't that extensive), nobody has ever founf anything like the equivalent of modern blueprints, or math calculations.
So I sometimes wonder whether they were work of visual genius, beyond the obvious (i.e. decoration), something like the savants who can do astounding calculations in their hads, and often report that they "just picture the numbers" - is thre some similar ability when it comes to intuiting the physics of materials, lines of force, vectoring like intricate lacework through the invisible air...?
((I'm also very interested in how the brain works, so this sort of question always intrigues me greatly.))

That's the surprising part. It all jsut seemed to take off, and faster than one would think horseback and plain old walking would allow.

It's not the appearance of that, which I'm picturing, tho' - it's those almost needle-like columns shooting up, taking the weight of heavy shale or lead or stone roofs, and the "walls" being frail curtains of glass looking almost as though they're suspended in the air. Strip away the decoration, and there is the Structure, the skeleton that is more than a skeleton, so to speak.

Oh yeah!

It's a funny thing, that. My degree is in science, so I did take chem and physics and calc and so on, and I've always enjoyed reading up on science. But to me, science isn't about taking the woner out of things - it's about learning enough about the workings of things such that the wonder is enhanced, not destroyed. I think that is the differnce between science, and the sort of 'analysis' one often reads or hears, i.e. the mere shallow recitation of facts and figures.
As with the INca stonework - thre are reasonable theories (and demonstrations thereof) tht show how the stones could have been hewn and then fit in place, but the wonder is not in the method, the wonder is in that these things were conceived and done, and in the mind/thoughts/'spirit' that drove the hands which drew the plans and worked the stone. And created things of beauty that continue to make people catch their breath, and will continue to do so for a very long time.

I wonder whether that question has been asked, and researched, in archaeological or other academic circles? That oculd be an interesting study.
Hey, get a gov.t grant to go to Europe and poke around <LOL!> ((I'm sure Don will appreciate the "gov.t grant" notion.... .....I know, I'm evil <heh heh heh...> ))
--
- Kris M. Krieger

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I can't imagine a sudden lateral displacement of the base being ANY good for those.

St. Denis saw a lot of very important people from around Europe attend the opening.

The walls only have to hold themselves up so imagine them gone with the decoration. St. Chapelle is my favourite for this. It is small and late but very true to form. Like to use it so say "Mies wasn't all that."
http://arts-sciences.cua.edu/gl/images/safran_slides/Medieval_Art/13thCentury/SteChapelle1243_48.jpg

That's why I hate trying to watch the Olympics. Too much human interest crap and not enough event. Same problem with too many photo books. It SAYS on the cover that it's Turkestan but really it's two pictures of Turkestan and one hundred of Turkestanians. Fuck the Turkestanians. As much as I hate the genre, I've got to give some credit to the "Pictures of my gay junkie friends in their underwear" people.

See, it's about the thing. I don't care how tortured Jackson Pollock was, I don't care about the dynamism of the act of painting. Hung on a wall it looks like crap.

Yup.
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I don't think I expressed what I meant well. I didn't mean the above.
Let me use an analogy. Back before I totally renounced Catholicism (and one of the straws that broke the camel's back) an incident I remember very clearly was that, in the little "lecture section" of one Mass, the priest said that "even the greatest cathedrals should be razed to the ground, rather than allowing them to be turned over to secular activities". I remembered having read that Philip Johnson (an atheist) once said siomething to the effect that being in one of them (I forgot which) almost made him believe in god for a while.
What I mean by the "mind behind the thing" is like that - the thing becomes the expression of the hand, i.e. the mind, and communicates at least something of that - with great art, and great architecture, I think that, even if someone comes along 3,000 years later, and knows nothing of the maker or the then-culture, somethng, a feeling, an expression, however wordless, comes through. ((FWIW one could argue that, if Pollak was milky in the filbert, it certainly came through in what he did...))
What that priest blithered was to me, the act of seeing a work as merely a thing - it is a church ergo it can only be used as such because that is it's one and only valid existence. THat's what I mean by "thing-ness", by seeing a work as merely a thing.
Others have said this much better, here and in other venues, but, IMO it is true that artists (including architects) don't do art because they have patrons; they find patrons so that they can do art (IOW get money to live, but for at least some artists, "to live" and "to do art" are synonym,s, because the musician cannot eliminate the music in the brain unless the brain dies; the poet doesn't stop thinking poetry if he loses huis hands and can no longer write; an architect is an architect even if he's born, lives, and dies in some hinterland and has to use found materials and hand tools - and so on). So, the church was the Patron of the cathedrals, but the master builders, and the artisans and craftspeople, did not consider their work to be a church and nothing more, a thing that ought to be destroyed if it wasn't to be used as a church. I think they had additional inspirations, and I think that they wanted tocreate something that would inspire, that would make people's thoughts transcend the mundane.
In that sense, the cathedrals *are* more than 'just a church building'. THey transcend the specific, ah, what's the word, dogmas? meanings?, of the religion which provided the patrons who paid for them to be built.
So that's what I mean by, a thing being more than just a thing. Great works are great because they give others a glimpse into the transcendant.
Not all creative work is great, and not every scribble is art. I don't personally consider Pollak's stuff "art" because it's self-important, self- conscious, and essentially mundane. Like Warhol's soup can. Affectatious. Like nouveau rich types who speak with fake English accents and then act like they're ever-so-clever if they self-reference their own affectation.
I hope that's more clear, tho' I suspect it is not =:-(

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Yes =:-D
It's true regardless of one's medium (or media).
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You should look up a book called Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. It is a work of fiction, but some of the descriptions of the building/designing of cathedrals are pretty interesting. Including the trials and tribulations of making the building stand up.
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