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Architecture Building: Fort Jesus - How do Buildings Mean? (Research Paper Sample)
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Fort Jesus - How do Buildings Mean?
Fort Jesus- How do Buildings Mean?
The essay paper has the primary objective of giving a clear discussion and interpretation of the various concepts and ideas outlined by William Whyte in his book, “How do Buildings mean? Some issues of interpretation in the history of Architecture”. The content of the book as outlined by the architectural historian highlights on the various ways in which other architectural historians have attempted to appreciate and understand the notion of the architectural meaning. As a result there will be an understanding as to why the meaning tends to differ from other architects. The book in general also provides a clear discussion about the ways in which the architecture has been viewed as a form of language. In this case, the language does translate the architect design ideas and possible intentions into the built form. Subsequently, there will be a close look at the form of architecture presented either as text, photograph, drawing and magazines of which there will be a description of how the architecture seems to differ from the normal physical appearance and architectural work.
Whyte and other known historians tend to provide an understanding of the architectural meaning by attempting to describe and interpret the actual architectural meaning. However, the depicted description and interpretation is such simple and complete. Whyte who is architectural historian begins by outlining that the process of understanding architecture does completely differ from the approach taken by an architect. In common descriptions, architectural historians have defined architecture with the consideration of highly basing on the historical moments in architecture and the possible easily depicted effects of the architecture on the social and cultural values. The architectural history cannot be viewed just as the ordinary study of building but it has a deeper meaning which embraces the past and current distinctive social system that encompasses set of cultural values.
According to the description of architecture basing on the historical approach, there is lack of understanding of the known fundamentals of the architectural design. In reference to architects understanding, architecture does come about due to the meticulous design process that appreciates the aspects of space, materiality, context and experience. The descriptions tend to controversy the socio-cultural system mode of description of architecture.
The problems of the architectural expression’s linguistic and semantic basis lag behind the correct assessment of the system. Hence, the trial to state the major linguistic or methodological outline of the architectural analysis of the desired meaning is linked to the degrees of the cultural and historical context where the building is being analyzed. Moreover, the essential level of valuation or devaluation is intrinsic in the media in which the analysis’s presentation is done.
Within the recent past, some academics have actually shown their confidence in the ability to find meaning in a structuralist reading of the details in architecture, ending in an apparent visual symbolic system throughout the ages. According to Whyte, structuralism does make the incorrect assumption that architecture “was a “sign-system,” a means of communication that was analogous to verbal or written language” (Whyte, 2006). Furthermore, interpretation like this one is plagued by the unescapably language evolution which is strongly linked to the values imparted by the cultural zeitgeist of the time that may be projected onto any given symbol or ‘word’ within an architectural piece.
The advent of post-structuralism placed a premium on personal experience came into existence. This angle of view of translation of the architectural aim of exact meaning as recognition of the impact of the user and spatial arrangement and quality contributed to the exact meaning crafted by architects. The post-structuralist criteria accepted the mentality that the users and observers were in active conversation with the architects while using and inspecting the space. “The examination of space, and […] the production of space owes as much to those who consume it as it does to those who create it.” (Whyte 2006, p.167). The role of the user in architectural expression of accurate meaning and exact translation of various forms to meaningful expressions of architectural meaning was then acknowledged. This was facilitated through experiential qualities of space.
Whyte claims that this mode of architectural analysis is ambiguous as the exact intentions of the architect are prone to corruption by the observer. He says that the views of the observer are too readily imprinted onto the interpretation of meaning. “[space] is thus simultaneously a thing within the world, that architects can manipulate, and a mental construct through which the mind knows the world, and thus entirely outside the realm of architectural practice (although it may affect the way in which the results are perceived)” (Forty 2000). This brings out the notion that space is just an extension of the mind through an observer’s point of view or mentality, therefore, it cannot be explicitly declared to be a definable, universal, or repeatable method in analysis of the architectural meaning or even the intention of the architectural expression.
Whyte goes ahead to propose that historiographical study of textual understandings and media-based analysis of interpretations of the architectural meaning should be employed as the basic evidence to the definition of the accurate meaning of a building. This form of evidence and its interpretations though history gives out an alternative and innovative methodology to correctly distinguish essential meaning of architectural intentions and architectural realization of a built form. In this form, Whyte suggests that it is the only way by which to analysis of the really meaning of the building that actually avoids the errors of previous widely accepted approaches.
As a matter of examining other eligible materials to determine the validity of the claims of Whyte’s theory, the analysis of Fort Jesus building will be ideal for the case. The description of the building prior obtaining the intended meaning of a building is great with good provision of details about the materiality of the building architecture as it can be observed from the image. The social and cultural history of Fort Jesus that it was once used as prison by the Kenyan government can’t be doubted due to the appearance of the building.
The Fort Jesus building within the coastal region of Kenya is known to be characterized by the rich history of the East African coast. The building is located within the Mombasa County just on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The primary objective constructing this architectural historic building was to enhance protection of the coastal region form the Turks who intended creating their base, thus the prevention of the India trade route. The planning and construction of this military fort was initiated by Portuguese in 1593. It was as a result of Turkish raids between 1585 and 1588. The image of the building provides the sense of location which is a symbolic description of a sense of comfort and elimination confusion. This portrays the emotions and dedication of the Portuguese (Gichuhi 2010).
The building was established on the roof of the coral ridge that extends along the mouth of the Kilindini harbor. It is believed that the exact strategic location of this building was determined by two key factors: the view of the ships entering the kilindini harbor from a glance that can be a range of the well positioned guns and artillery; and secondly, the appropriate swallow location for the landing during emergencies. It is clear from the understanding that the design of the Fort Jesus building resemblance human body with the building’s plan that reflects on the Portuguese fortification of tactics. According to most historians, the fort design symbolizes the Indian fortresses rather the colonial Portuguese constructions in Africa (archnet.org n.d).
With a four-sided plan, Sao Filipe, Sao Alberto, Sao Matias, and Sao Mateus. The first two being the strongholds to the land as the last two provides support to the sea. Looking at the photograph, one can easily observe that there is a rectangular projection between the two seaward bastions. The reason behind building the Fort around a rock core on rock foundations was to render the building impervious to siege occasions. It should be noted that around two thirds of the walls are solid coral that forms almost a vertical face on the building’s seaward side (Gichuhi 2010).
The Fort Jesus image provides the context of what it is defined in comparison with the current museum in a much greater detail. The image does not only symbolizes the clear connection of the past and present but it has illustrated the geometric design and materiality of the building as outlined in the early paragraph (Sarmento 2010; Linehan and Sarmento 2011). The image still represents the physical, cultural and social connection between the Portuguese mode of protection and the city of Mombasa. The building façade is another element of the image. Without the idea and understanding of the placement, shape and construction of windows within the building faced does seem unintentional. The windows were placed strategically and fitted with cannons for stopping the invaders and they were absolutely small in size. Since the building was constructed for security purposes since the Portuguese had dominated the east African coastal for hundred years, the designing of the doors was...
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