Name:Cristiene MorcosProfessorAaron CayerArchitecture361December7, 2017Religious ArchitectureArchitecture has existed since the recognition ofcivilization, it wouldn’t be what it is today if we weren’t inspired by the past.
Architecture is not only building a structure, it’s more than that.Architecture is a process of both carefully designing and carefully building astructure. Architecture is the art and practice of design which starts bystudying the site and exploring the options of treating the site, choosing theposition and location of the site, and finally studying the environment and howthe structure would fit and shine in it.
The process of designing the actualstructure follows specific programs that make the structure convenient andefficient, while staying compliant to the codes and requirements of the city orthe county. Once compliant, we can finally begin to build the structure. One ofthe main reasons we build is for the future, but to do so, we need to look atthe past. Carl Sagan puts it best, “You have to know the past to understand thepresent”. We study history since it brought us to the present, where we createthings for the future. For that, we must study history to be better prepared tobuild the future.
History of architecture not only helps us understand thearchitect’s way of thinking, it also helps us understand architecture and howthe builder designed their structures. Studying the history of architecturealso helps us understand the history of the cultures who built these amazingstructures as well as the thought process and interests they held at the timethe structures were being built. It helps us understand the path that humanityfrom the ancient man and ancient environment until today. Studying the historyof architecture allow us to ask ourselves why, how, and where these sites andstructures were created. Most importantly, by studying the history ofarchitecture, we get a clear understanding of how beliefs and religions playthe greatest role in ancient and medieval architecture, clearly visible in andon the ancient Egyptian Pyramids, St. Peter’s Basilica and ByzantineArchitecture, and the Hagia Sophia. The Egyptian Pyramids are a very clear example ofhow beliefs and religion played the greatest role in ancient architecture.Ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife, which is, after the person dies,their Ka (soul) remains, but needs the body to come back in the afterlife.
Thisprocess was only possible through mummification. Ancient Egyptians built thepyramids to keep the pharaoh’s body and their belongings stored and safe foruse in the afterlife. These structures were built as tombs and each of thepyramids were surrounded by temple complexes and smaller pyramids for thepharaohs wives. These complexes were staffed by priests and priestesses toensure the pharaoh was taken care of in the afterlife, as the Egyptians wouldlikely have visited to ask for blessing or to pay their respects. They knew andunderstood the importance of building the pharaoh’s final resting place so thatits sides faced directly north, south, east, and west, much like a compass,with the entrance facing the Nile River. Having a river in the middle of thecountry clearly had an influence on the Egyptian people as it was clear theyrespected nature.
They would watch the lilies grow from the mud to become abeautiful flower, which invented their belief in the concept of creation. Thatis why the Egyptian people chose the shape of their structures to be in theshape of pyramids as it represented the idea of new life emerging from a moundof earth to be bathed in the light and warmth of the sun.St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, an Italian Renaissancechurch in Vatican City, is another clear example of how religion is thegreatest factor in ancient architecture.
It was built according to tradition,above the burial site of St. Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Since St Peter’s burial under the site of theBasilica, it has been tradition to bury the Popes within the basilica in thesame fashion. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly beneath the highaltar of the Basilica. St Peter’s Basilica, like most cathedrals and greatchurches, has a cruciform ground plan. In churches of Western Europeantradition, the plan is usually longitudinal, in the form of a Latin cross.
This is created by a long nave crossed by a transept. The roofis in the shape of a dome which symbolizes heaven and the womb of God. Thebuilding itself was designed to be in a square cruciform with shallowprojecting arms, which symbolizes the shape of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. TheBasilica also displays decorative Christian art, including stained glassand religious icons from the Bible. The front of the structure displays1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul. All ofthese factors are clearly influenced and built on religious beliefs and foundationsof Christianity. “St Peter’s Basilica is so influential, it brought about thebuilding of a great number of churches that imitate elements of St Peter’s to agreater or lesser degree, including St.
Mary of the Angels in Chicago, St. Josaphat’s Basilica in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh and Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, which replicates many aspects of StPeter’s on a smaller scale. Post-Modernism hasseen free adaptations of St Peter’s in the Basilicaof Our Lady of Liche?, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.
“Religion clearly had a great impact on 19th and 20thcentury architecture and continues to do so today. The final structure that truly shows that religionplayed the greatest role in ancient architecture is the Hagia Sophia. The HagiaSophia’s design is of Byzantine architectural influence that evolved fromRoman architecture. The style appeared from Near East influences and the Greekcross plan for church design was adopted from the Roman designs. Using brickinstead of stone, mosaics replaced carved decorations and complex domes weredeveloped. The Hagia Sophia, a Greek Orthodox Church basilica, was convertedinto a mosque in 1453, and is now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey and falls underthe Byzantine architecture style. It contains two floors centered on a giantnave that has a great dome ceiling that symbolizes heaven, along with smallerdomes, towering above.
This design was one of the great breakthroughs in thehistory of Western architecture occurred when Justinian’s architects invented ahard yet efficient system providing for a smooth transition from a square planof the church to a circular dome (or domes) by means of squinches orpendentives, which enable its transition into the square shape of its piersbelow. These pendentives distribute the weight of the dome to the wall underit. The architects who designed the Hagia Sophia were primarily mathematicians,who made use of new architectural concepts in order to build exactly what theemperor wanted when constructing the design. These designs, much like St PetersBasilica, were heavily influenced by Christianity and religious beliefs, andbecome more evident when viewing the beautiful mosaics all around itsstructure. There are many factors that influenced ancientarchitecture and many factors that influence present day design, but religionand beliefs were and will always be the greatest. Structures are built for manyreasons and purposes, with most of the designs being structured on a belief.
Whetherthe building was designed to be high enough to reach the sky (God), or strongenough to stand the test of time (the afterlife), the driving factor alwaysleads back to religious purposes and foundations.