Reverberation: Action and Reaction
Reverberation is traditionally defined as a reaction to foundational elements. Foundational elements are essential to design and offers a grounding idea that allows for development and exploring past what has already been created to something new. Every object, place, building and place we have today is based on action and reaction to past developments and designs. The three main foundation principles are the circles, groves and stacks seen in traditional Greek and Roman architecture. From these foundational buildings, form, order, architectural detail and space has taken shape and been transformed throughout the years.
Reverberation is made possible through trade and the spreading of ideas. As trade started between waterways and travel between countries increased, ideas became to spread and spawn off one another to different parts of the world. New materials were introduced; form and building structure was enhanced and internal elements, especially in churches, changed.
One major way reverberation has been exposed is as an expression of faith. In early churches, the buildings were designed as a reaction to the Pantheon and Basilica as well as taking the open concept idea from the forum and agora in Rome and Greece. An example is the Salisbury Cathedral, which takes both the dome form on top of the Basilica and “stack” or pyramid shaped entrance porch on the Pantheon. As a result, the Salisbury Cathedral as well as others of the time has a centralized organization, cross-shaped plan and mixed use of circles, groves and stacks. There is also an open, airy entrance inside the doorway that is organized like the open space of the forum and agora where people can gather before they enter the walls of the church. Other than form, faith was expressed through the internal motifs and materials. Mosaics were introduced and the walls told stores of the religion and offered color and interest to the space.
As the world as an idea was unfolding and trade became more popular, the process of producing maps began. Maps in general have a distinct boarder/boundaries in which an important idea is enclosed in the center. They always have a view of something with directionality and value and show what is important. Maps unfolded the world in a contextual way, showing the physical separation of landmasses and different cultures. But in buildings, spaces and materials, there were visual separations between the different countries.
In the West, there was a revival of the past using classical language and strive for harmony and order in all things. Taking back the three foundational elements by layering groves and stacks when possible. Also the idea of emphasizing the surface through materiality was prevalent, most often seen through details on the front of buildings with stone and tile. The Western designers was about following the rules and attempted to follow them by writing the rules down or describe what they were designing. They put man at the center and strived for position through patronage. The thoughts moved forward from religious centered to a more secular agenda. While the West was following order and classical language, the East was striving for harmony and stability.
The Eastern rulebook was similar to the West’s in terms of finding order and continuing the pattern of groves and stacks as well as emphasizing the surface through materiality. Unlike the West; however, the East placed community needs before personal needs and emphasized spiritual, not just special connections. They also had more stability within their ideas and a sense of identity. The major differences between the two were mosaics in the West while stained glass in the East. Shoji panels in the west while stone panels in the East. Exploration in materials in the West led to carpet while exploration of furniture in the East led to chest of drawers. Although maps physically showed the separation, details and style showed the visual separation and different reactions to the foundational principles.
Another part of reverberation is the reaction to existing ideals and the manipulating them to come up with your own. The “old rules” were considered to be the rules of the Renaissance, which included precision, symmetrical/ balanced compositions, layering and stacking of class systems, and calm nature. However, these rules were reconsidered and broken during the Baroque time period where exploration of design was prevalent. The classical circle was stretched to an oval shape, forced perspective arose which brought about diagonals walls instead of straight walls, round vivid forms and distortion as well as dramatic lighting. Art and architecture were coming together and inspiriting new creations instead of being different forms. While the Eastern Hemisphere was experiencing new change and “breakage” of the rules, maps introduced the Western Hemisphere and the idea of exploration and discovering the new world.
When America was founded, the settlers brought with them the ideas of the English. They did not know any other style than what they left so at first, the English traditional setting which spawned a Greek revival heavily inspired America. This traditional style became the first national style developed in the new world. The inclusion of a porch on a plain building arose again and ration, balance and symmetry in the community were expressed once more. As America became established as a new country, the creation of the sideboard and dining room were created from new ideas of entertainment. People began inviting people into their homes and having gathering and celebrations so a more formal, matching space was necessary to host guests.
No matter what century it is, reverberation is always taking place. Action and reaction is a part of life and is what creates what we have today. No form nor design has been created that does not have some past influences. Reverberation will continue to take place as the years progress and products will continue to get better and architecture will continue to expand.
Maps are an example of reverberation and the notion of differentiating ideas. This is an older map when the world was just being discovered. It shows the world as two, distinct separate hemispheres or sides with America on one side and Europe on the other. The world also takes a uniformed circular shape right in the middle of the map with a centralized axis opposed to a more modern map. The map below elongates the world into more of an oval instead of a circle. Also, the two sides are only visually separated by the water instead of physically separated into two different shapes. On some maps, the edges are cut off so the world essentially looks square. As people began to learn that the world was round and it was common knowledge, the maps began to change to show more information about the different countries differentiated by different colors to show the boarders instead of concentrating on the shape of the world as a whole.