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Architecture as an Environmental Influence II 

A Response to Collage City by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter

         Besides the fact that this read is incredibly sophisticated, in that the amount of ideas and theories of the existing built work become quite difficult to follow when you do not have the right amount of knowledge and experience in the material, Rowe and Koetter have provided a fascinating overview of the influence Architecture can have upon an environment and history. For that reason, this response is a bit different, in where I will write based on my thoughts, after the reading and through the reading, rather than trying to exploit or investigate each works purpose. From the Palace of Versailles to the Piazza del Campidolgio to the Acropolis of Athens, what these sites, or Utopias if you will, have become through time are giants to what they were in their initial birth, but nevertheless miniscule to occurring events. What I mean by this is that great feats were done centuries ago, in what we become tied to, what we call architectural precedents having immense value in being our forefront examples of beginning civilizations and epochs. For the sake of terminology, when we talk about civilizations and epochs, these represent a way of living, a style of life in an environment that manipulates and influences human behavior, psychology and desire. Hence, there is great relevance in the contemporary time, which introduces a dramatic influence upon history and what it will entail.   

             And I lied, I do want to investigate these works, but for this post I’ll just question them. We can question what the plan of Versailles means, the positioning of the buildings as hierarchical governance that stimulates the occurring renaissance or what does the Baroque design of the landscape mean? Perhaps, a hidden art within the design symbolizing Louis’ arrogance or confidence? Not to mention the marvels in the fountain engineering that were at the top of invention at the times, influencing the environment and way of life in the Palace. How about Michelangelo in the Campidolgio, an artist’s might in displacing existing structural landmarks like that of Marcus Aurelius; providing a geometrical design on the platform of the piazza that in many theories stimulate a relationship to astronomical points of the universe? What do these things entail for the governance of the existing Roman senate? What does Michelangelo's work represent against the existing political and societal affairs? The significance of these spaces through time, at the moment, then and now, are rather magical in many ways. Then we can have a little escape in mind or in visuals to the Acropolis, in where Greek culture created the mythical stories that have carried on to established politics and structures of living for many parts of the world. How the beautifully sculpted Caryatids represent the architectural structure for some of the greatest built works in Athens. Empowering the structures with the female figure as support.

          There are more works spoken of in the literature, and even in a more clever sense, the works go from urban explorations to architectural buildings. Like that of Corb’s Ville Radieuse and Villa Savoye, which introduced a set of networks in the livable culture, taking an urban city form into a significant building through different modes of living and circulation. It is the importance of what these designs create that allow for the relevance in Architecture as an environmental influence.

           To end this post, I will allude to an abstract artwork of an extracted idea of the MuCEM and how this building may be introducing a new environmental influence in a very mystical way.