“…they measured a man’s foot, and finding its length the sixth part of his height, they gave the column a similar proportion, that is, they made its height, including the capital, six times the thickness of the shaft, measured at the base. Thus the Doric order obtained its proportion, its strength, and its beauty, from the human figure.” (Vitruvius, iv.6)
I of course love the movie of the TIE Fighter being modeled in ArchiCAD. It’s just cool. And all the other classics that GRAPHISOFT (well an unnamed ArchiCAD Master) has modeled for us in videos are equally impressive (you can see all the classics here). It’s a good feeling to know that within our program of choice so many great moments in the history of Architecture can be modeled.
But this latest video of the Roman Doric Column is hands down the winner for me. Yes even more so than the Gaudi videos. Why? When I was at Rice University studying Architecture, I took a lot of Art History courses. So many that I should have graduated with Art History as a second major (I had all the credits, but one of my classes lacked the seminar label which meant I didn’t fulfill all the requirements of the major. AND I was too stubborn to just take one extra class. What an idiot. Oh well, my career hasn’t been that hurt by my youthful arrogance). I loved all the classes, especially the ones that focused on architectural history—Islamic art and architecture, Renaissance architecture, Greek, Roman, you name it. I found excuses to read Vitruvius, Alberti, and Palladio. I loved the rules and parameters behind all their work. Nothing was arbitrary; there were laws of proportion, there were relationships between heights and widths, lengths and diameters… These books revealed the hidden logic behind what made classical architecture so balanced and beautiful. Having read and studied so much, it became not hard to look at various buildings and tell if the designers really understood their precedents.
Watching this video pleases me so much because it’s a convergence of all those ancient architectural concepts with the latest and greatest architectural technology. This video is just an extension of architectural thought that goes back millennia. A little bit of proof that the wondrous tools we use today can still do the intricate work of our ancestors. I can imagine a contemporary of Vitruvius seeing that video and going “Yes! That’s perfect and so exact. I want that tool.”
But there’s more than just my love of history that makes me appreciate this video so much. I’ll never do a remodel of a Gaudi bulding. And I’ll probably never get to design anything that will travel in space. Sadly, neither will you. Probably. BUT… we all have worked on projects with classical detailing. And we all will again. In the past I’ve always had to abstract the detailing. Or just 2D it. Or import some clunky object from another modeling software. Which was disappointing. The precision and beauty of the details is what makes classical architecture so satisfying. It’s therefore great to see how this wild function, the Morph tool, which we think of being used to create modern and futuristic wonders is just as well suited to creating the foundation of all our architecture: the classical orders.
So finally a challenge to the ArchiCAD wizard behind these videos (I know you’re reading this): how about the other orders? Doric may be complex next to Etruscan, but it’s Ionic and Corinthian where we separate the good from the great. How about it? You up for modeling at least one of those? Challenge accepted????