An Introduction to the Gigantic World of Details

These steps at the Brion Cemetery echo distinct notes with each step.  Designed by Carlo Scarpa. Photo by Addison Godel (Flickr)

These steps at the Brion Cemetery produce distinct notes with each step. Designed by Carlo Scarpa. Photo by Addison Godel (Flickr)

To say I’m an architecture nerd is a massive understatement.  In the midst of normal Saturday night house parties with students studying normal majors like business and accounting, I’ve brought out architecture magazines and spewed adoring praise and furious disapproval to everyone within earshot.  Somehow, I was the only person at these parties discussing beer pong and stormwater retention in the same breath.

I learned that it’s actually fairly acceptable to obsess about architecture in general, but for some reason, nerding out about details elevates you to a whole new plane of dorkiness.  I can’t help it though.  Buildings are amazing and details can give buildings so much soul.

Merriam-Webster defines detail (noun) as:

  • a small part of something
  • the small parts of something
  • a particular fact or piece of information about something or someone

This generic definition works well because a detail can be anything from a drawing of the sealant between two pieces of concrete to a piano that hangs half-way out of a wall.

fig1

In his home in Oak Park, IL, Frank Lloyd Wright shoved a Steinway piano through a wall and suspended its rear end over a service stair so it wouldn't impose on the playroom where it was located.

In his home in Oak Park, IL, Frank Lloyd Wright shoved a Steinway piano through a wall and suspended its rear end over a service stair so it wouldn’t impose on the playroom where it was located.

In case you’d like to explore the gigantic world of details, but don’t know where to begin, I’ve included photos of some of my favorites below:

Photo from Arup.

Dhajji dewari is an ancient building method from the Kashmir Valley of India and parts of Pakistan.  Pieces of wood, rock, and mud loosely fill the walls, allowing them to flex and dissipate the energy from earthquakes. Photo from Arup.

Foundations of a traditional Japanese house. Photo by Ken Straiton. (http://photographer.kenstraiton.com/)

Foundations of a traditional Japanese house.
Photo by Ken Straiton. (http://photographer.kenstraiton.com/)

Decorations on column tops inside Ramesseum, part of the Theban Necropolis, Luxor, Egypt. Photo from Wikimedia.

Decorations on column tops inside Ramesseum, part of the Theban Necropolis, Luxor, Egypt. Photo from Wikimedia.

GalleryinSchweinfurt

Stairs in the Museum Georg Schäfer in Schweinfurt, Germany designed by Volker Staab Architekten. Photo by Gerhard Hagen.

caplutta-zumthor

A door pull from the Chapel of Saint Benedict near Sumvitg, Switzerland. Designed by Peter Zumthor.

RobieHouseWindows_ChicagoIL

Stained glass windows from the Robie House in Chicago, IL. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo from Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress), item number HABS ILL,16-CHIG,33-8

ChickenPointCabin

This giant glass wall rotates open using a system of hand-cranked gears. Chicken Point Cabin, Washington, Idaho. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects.

I hope this little collection has awakened your inner architecture nerd.  Thank you for reading!

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