Ornament is Prime!
Senior Design Studio, Fall 2019, Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey
The origin and significance of ornament in architecture date back to antiquity, directly attached to Vitruvius’s triad terms firmitas, utilitas and venustas, with the latter relating to the notion of beauty – a term that haunted many architects for centuries. While some of this notion was revitalized during the Renaissance, through the texts of Alberti, the ornament was seen in conjunction with structure, often something external or attached that was meant to embellish the form or appearance of a building. Working in tandem with natural principles such as proportion and symmetry, ornament was seen as an integral aspect of art and architecture that often took shape in organic forms, be it acanthus leaves, Moresque tiles or knotwork.
The overall goal of this semester’s digital design studio is to explore ornament as an inherent and integral part of architectural design that can produce various aesthetic, structural and tectonic properties. To achieve this, the studio we will be reversing the conventional studio procedures by not starting our investigation with a definitive site or program, instead, we will be first developing a methodology that can historically interpret, analyze and reinvent ornament. Students will be initially working in groups during the research phase, producing artefacts/machines and organizing a design matrix that will be later implemented towards a design project in a chosen corner site in a busy commercial district in central Istanbul.