The Shadows In Architecture Cultural Studies Essay

Published:

As we all know that light is essential for various activities and shadows are intrinsically connected with light. Light is inseparable from the notion of form and space and so is shadow from light. Throughout the world architects have strived to marvel the use of natural light, but seldom do they consider the shadowed areas caused due to that light. The ambience of a space is affected by the quality of light and shadows. Treatment of light and shadows has been a typical feature of traditional Japanese architecture which understands and lays importance to the design of areas in shade from a source of light. Ar Juhani Pallasmaa on shadows: "The imagination and daydreaming are stimulated by dim light and shadow. In order to think clearly, the sharpness of vision has to be suppressed, for thoughts travel with an absent-minded and unfocussed gaze. Homogeneous bright light paralyses the imagination in the same way that homogenisation of space weakens the experience of being, and wipes away the sense of place". (Pallasmaa, 2005).

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Professional

Essay Writers

Lady Using Tablet

Get your grade
or your money back

using our Essay Writing Service!

Essay Writing Service

Architect Peter Zumthor listed the following as one his favourite ideas: "…to plan the building as a pure mass of shadow then, afterwards, to put in light as if you were hollowing out the darkness, as if the light were a new mass seeping in". (Zumthor, 2006).

The area of study of this dissertation will be based on the idea that if the lighted parts of an object are too light, the form of it is difficult to perceive, and if the parts in shadow are too dark no form will be seen. When light falls on a relief perpendicular to its surface, there will be a minimum of shadows. The intricacies will hardly be visible. Similarly perception of texture also depends on minute differences in relief. The dynamic nature of the shadows cast by sunlight gives an immense potential to effectively design and create shades and shadows. Ordinary day-to-day phenomenon like openings along a long corridor create patches of light and shadow and breaks the monotony of the long walk. Elements of buildings such as sunshades, jaalis, screens, louvres, etc cast shadows which have shapes. The phenomenology of shadows is an important aspect of spaces.

Hence, it is more than evident that light and shadows are an essential part of a space.If the architect has an understanding of the relationship of the object with its shadow, he will be better able to control it to 'compose' the shadows and hence the feel of the space.

Research Question:

How do shadows affect spatial design?

Need Identification

Every experience of architecture is multi-sensory; qualities of space are measured by the eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue simultaneously. A development towards the dominance of the sense of vision has been observed and analyzed by a number of philosophers in recent years. Vision, as we all know, is a consequence of light. Hence, in a very direct way, light is essential for perception of architecture. This study will focus on a rather unspoken, yet ever-present, product of light, i.e. shadows.

Elements of architecture undergo innumerable transformations during the course of the day and from season to season. In 1849 John Rushkin stated that "among the first habits that a young architect should learn, is that of thinking in shadow…". (Rushkin, 1880). The shadow gives shape and life to the object in light. Casting of shadow reveals the relationships between objects. Just as Chiaroscuro in paintings and sculptures creates vitality, the play of light and shadow brings life to buildings. (Sullivan, 1947).

Objectives

To study, in brief, the role of shadows in spatial design throughout the history of architecture in a chronological way.

To study the role of shadows in the design of contemporary spaces, taking up examples and case-studies

To study how people react to the above mentioned cases. (designer's intent vs. achieved).

Lastly, attempt to formulate/arrive at generalities to assist the incorporation of 'shadow-design' in the basic design of spaces and buildings

Scope

The study will analyze the role of self-shadows and cast-shadows (formed under natural light) in spatial design.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Comprehensive

Writing Services

Lady Using Tablet

Plagiarism-free
Always on Time

Marked to Standard

Order Now

Understand and analyze the effects of the two different types of shadows (with a visual boundary and without a visual boundary)

Study changes in the use of light and shadow throughout the history of architecture.

The study will include:

Visual perception of the spaces

Basic understanding of tones, intensity etc

The study will NOT include:

Climato-logical impact of the natural light

Technical aspects of light, including definitions and quantifiable items like Lux, Lumens, Illuminance, etc.

Limitations

Shade/shadow is seen as absence or relative deficiency of light. Hence, a direct quantification is not possible.

The study has been limited to use of natural light in buildings to streamline the topic of study due to time and text limitations.

Secondary case-studies will rely on the imagery and data available in the media and/or books.

Direct interview of people using the mentioned spaces (outstation or otherwise) is not possible hence the study will rely on the literature available.

Methodology

Literature Survey

Case-study -

Primary - Prominent examples of such spaces in or around Delhi which have successfully incorporated shadow as an element in the design

Secondary - Prominent examples of such spaces which have successfully incorporated shadow as an element in the design, with sufficient data available for analysis.

Analysis - Analysis of the data collected after the Literature Survey and Case-studies.

Formulation of ideas - Arrive at generalities after a detailed analysis of the collected data to assist the "designing of shadows" for spaces and buildings. This will help in sensitizing the reader to consider 'shadows' as an important element in spatial design, and hence a whole new approach to designing. The formulations will tentatively be with respect to: scale; forms - blocks and massing; geometry; material - colour and texture; pertaining to particular elements of buildings (like sunshades, louvers, screens etc)

Definitions: (http://oxforddictionaries.com/)

shadow:

(noun) a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.

shade:

(noun) comparative darkness caused by shelter from direct sunlight.

darkness:

(noun) the partial or total absence of light.

chiaroscuro: ( http://www.britannica.com)

the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface

( from Italian: chiaro, "light"; scuro, "dark") technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.

phenomenology:

It is a philosophical design current in contemporary architecture and a specific field of academic research, based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties.

Works Cited

Pallasmaa, J. (2005). The eyes of the skin : architecture and the senses. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Plummer, H. (2009). The Architecture of Natural Light. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Rasmussen, S. E. (1962). Experiencing Architecture. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Rushkin, J. (1880). The Seven Lamps of Architecture. New York: Drover Publications, Inc.

Sullivan, L. (1947). "Ornament in Architecture", Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings. New York: Witten Art Books.

Tanizaki, J. (1977). In praise of shadows. New Haven, Conn.: Leete's Island Books.

Zumthor, P. (2006). Atmospheres : architectural environments, surrounding objects. Basel, Boston: Birkhäuser.

Bibliography

Murray, D. (1990). Architecture and shadow. New York: Rizzoli.

Pallasmaa, J. (2005). The eyes of the skin : architecture and the senses. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Plummer, H. (2009). The Architecture of Natural Light. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Rasmussen, S. E. (1962). Experiencing Architecture. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Rushkin, J. (1880). The Seven Lamps of Architecture. New York: Drover Publications, Inc.

Sullivan, L. (1947). "Ornament in Architecture", Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings. New York: Witten Art Books.

Tanizaki, J. (1977). In praise of shadows. New Haven, Conn.: Leete's Island Books.

Zumthor, P. (2006). Atmospheres : architectural environments, surrounding objects. Basel, Boston: Birkhäuser.

Chapter Outline:

Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: Introduction

Light and Shadow: The inseparable

Shadows and spatial design

Research Question

Need Identification

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

This Essay is

a Student's Work

Lady Using Tablet

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Examples of our work

Scope

Limitations

Methodology

References

Chapter 2: Architecture Precedents

Shadows in Architecture through time

Works of contemporary architects

Chapter 3: Understanding shadows

3.1 Shadows

Self-shadows and cast-shadows

Shadows having a visual boundary versus without a visual boundary (shades); obscuring etc

Dominance of shadow versus dominance of light

Effect of shadows in spatial design

Form

Elements: Jaalis, relief, pergola etc

Materials and texture

Dynamism through light and shadow

Chapter 4: Case-studies

Primary :

Spiritual/meditation center

India Habitat Center

Secondary:

Church of Light by Tadao Ando

The Pantheon, Rome

Chapter 5: Conclusion

Analysis and conclusion

List of Plates