Words and Buildings: Designed for Acoustical Sound

acoustic-wordsJust like many buildings both today and in the golden age of architecture, acoustics are an integral part of the construction of a building. The word acoustic itself comes from the Greek word “akoustikos.” Early examples of acoustically designed architecture date back to the Greek and Roman empires. The Romans would build their amphitheaters with acoustics in mind, so that everyone could hear the plays being performed.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that acoustics would be studied in depth with a great deal of vigor, however. The great German mathematician Hermann von Helmholtz consolidated the field of study for acoustics, which was later expanded upon by English thinkers.

Now what does all of this have to do with words? Well, just like the acoustics of architecture, words themselves are often created with certain sounds in mind. Yes, even words can be constructed in such a way so as to elicit certain reactions from readers, listeners etc. For example, consider the German and French language. German is often thought to be an “angry” language, while French is a “language of love.” How can people think this? Languages are all used to do the same thing: communicate. So how can it be that two languages are viewed so differently from one another?

There are entire disciplines of linguistics that are dedicated to the study of these questions, but the short answer is acoustics. In the study of aesthetics, some sounds are associated with different feelings than others. Just as words like were and was meanings are different to those who read them, different sounds have different meanings when you hear them.

One need not even get abstract or theoretical about the concept of acoustics in language. Consider the art of singing. You may have never notice this when listening to your favorite singer, but while singing, you do not sing consonants. This is because the human vocal cords cannot reverberate the sound of a consonant.

Another classic example of the value of acoustics in language is the study of poetry. Many different poetic styles rely exclusively on the idea that certain words and phrases can produce different effects on the reader. The meter at which words are spoken, where, when, and how often to rhyme words, this all factors in to the conversation of linguistic acoustics. Understanding the confusion between were and where might be irrelevant when you are simple looking for the sound that is produced by saying these words.

All of this is to show you that the concepts behind a sound architectural design are not limited specifically to the study of architecture. Acoustics, while being essential to the construction of any building are not limited to that only; they can be found all across academic disciplines, from physics to literature. Each and every word has a specific reason for why it has come to be, and how words function grammatically oftentimes has to do with an an architectural influence. The arm of architectural reach is long reaching and bridges divides all across modern and classical academia.

Architectural Design of a Backpack

best emergency bag for architectsYou may not think of something as simple as a backpack as an item with much architectural significance, but then again you’d be surprised with the number of backpacks that are being designed these days and some of the intricacies that they have in them.

My first backpack was little more than a bag with a zipper on it, but in today’s world of gadgets and gizmos, people need more storage space but don’t necessarily want to lug around a monstrosity of a bag. Enter architectural design.

Some of the most well designed backpacks are those that can carry a ton of stuff but at the same time not be bulky and overbearing to carry. The best bags I have seen on the market today, as far as design goes, as survival backpacks for outdoors. Most of the bags that kids take back and forth to school still haven’t caught on as far as being sleek and well built because—well—frankly they don’t have to be. All kids use bags for is to carry around books and maybe a laptop, but the outdoors and hiking backpacks are really where some interesting designs are happening.

When you set out to design a Voodoo Tactical bag review you need to account for every single square inch of that bag because not even a single space can be wasted. When people are out in the woods camping or trying to survive in the aftermath of a natural disaster, they need to pack all of the necessary supplies to survive. If a bag is lacking in overall space or proper management of space, this could result in very important items being left behind.

Consider the two main compartments most bags have. Many of these are just open pouches that you dump things in. Now you need a certain amount of open space in any storage area for miscellaneous items, but wasting two giant storage compartments on it is sort of a waste and an architectural flaw. When you just start throwing items into a bag is when space begins being used in a wasteful manner.

The best 72 hour premade bug out bag will have pouches for specific items and slots in the larger compartments for something like a water pack. Why waste the space storing water horizontally when you can stretch it out over the whole length of the bag. This not only saves space but also allows you to carry more water.

These are the types of innovations that only architects can bring to the design of bags and backpacks. Architects are used to designing buildings that utilize every single space. Think about it. When you design a building, nothing goes to waste. Every room is intentional; every hallway is planned out. Every beam and joist has a function and goes into the master plan, so why wouldn’t they also be able to do the same for backpacks? The answer is they can and they are doing so more and more today. Take a look at some of the newest backpacks on the market today. They are actually pretty incredible.

The Accounting Cost and Financing of Building Cathedrals

receivable turnoverCathedrals in the middle ages were built as monuments of the Church. The vast and expansive buildings not only served as places for the local community to worship and attend services; they also served as a personification of the glory of God.

The main idea behind the extreme buildings of the European cathedrals was that they were supposed to be a place for God to meet His children. These were supposed to be the houses of God and as such they needed to be built as a fitting house for the Most High.

The laborers, architects, and planners worked for years to build some of the most significant, and long lasting buildings in the world. But these magnificent building did not come without a great cost.

Financing these cathedrals was one huge problem for the church in the medieval times. These churches would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s currency. Raising this kind of capital was not easy for the church. That is why many of the cathedrals around Europe were completed at different times during history. They were added on through out the middle ages until the project was complete.

One of the main sources of funding was the state’s http://www.myaccountingcourse.com/financial-ratios/accounts-receivable-turnover-ratio. Back then the state, or government, was closely tied with the church. In fact, the church controlled most European governments at that time. For instance, the King of England was considered the head of the church. This kind of theocracy allowed the church to collect mandatory tithes and offerings.

Unlike churches today, these tithes were not given out of good will. They were more like a tax mandated by the government. Many Kings used this tax money to sanction different cathedral building projects. King Louie sanctioned an astonishing 13 massive building projects in his lifetime.

The church also sold many “goods and services” during this time to fund the expansion of the cathedrals. These goods and services, most often called indulgences, were pardons that peasants and local workers could buy for themselves or others to ensure they will be forgiven their sins and allowed to go to heaven when they died. The modern Catholic Church has decanted this practice and does not speak highly of the period in its history.

There were several other accounting tips and tricks that church officials used to help build these monumental buildings. One of which was to borrow money from the state in the form of average accounts payable turnover ratio. This allowed the church access to the capital it needed to start the project without having to actually come up with the cash initially.

Often times, later the debt would be pardoned by the King and the commoners would be forced to pay higher taxes or allow the government to take some of its crops and harvest for the year.

Even though these buildings were financed through mysterious means, they are still a great testament to the ingenuity and creativity of man.

Learning German Guitar Architecture

instrument architecture and constructionThe guitar has been around for hundreds of years and its ancestor, the lute, has been around for centuries. When you think about this instrument, you probably think about the modern day electric guitar, but back when this stringed instrument was first invented, it was only an acoustic instrument.

I have been fascinated with stringed instruments my entire life. I love the way they sound and love their looks. As an architect, I have an eye that is drawn to lines and shapes. There are few instruments that are more pleasing to the eye than a Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, or Martin dreadnought.

I’m in no ways a luthier or guitar builder, but I do like to study how things are made. That’s what led me to my guitar research. I wanted to see what kind of influence the Germans had on modern instrument construction and what some traditional designs were. We will talk about all of that, but first I want to start with the construction of an acoustic.

Before the 1900s, acoustic guitars were not played in many bands because they couldn’t be heard over horns or other stringed instruments. Instead, guitarists were usually stuck playing solo because the guts strings couldn’t produce enough volume.

This all changed in the late 19th century during the industrial revolution. Metals were used for the first time to wind wires. Because of the advancement of machinery, these wires could be wound tight enough and thin enough to accommodate the guitar and replace the gut strings.

The only problem was that the new metal strings put much more tension on the neck and the body causing it to lose its intonation and tuning. A new construction had be invented that could keep the integrity of the instrument while not interfering with the tone and sustain.

The X-bracing pattern was invented by an unknown genius. This pattern of wooden braces inside the body allowed the top to vibrate while maintaining its structural integrity. This was the first huge break through in design that set the instrument on its course to be the most popular and most played stringed instrument of modern times.

Later, modern companies like Fender and Gibson started making electric instruments out of a solid piece of wood instead of a series of boards glued together. The age of many of these guitars is difficult to tell with out being about to lookup Fender serial Numbers with some type of database.

Never the less, these are really fun to play. If you are thinking about taking online guitar lessons, I would recommend it. Jump in and start having fun. I know I have. Here is the best way to learn guitar online.

German engineering with companies like Schaller and Sperzel made these modern ideas possible with ingenious new tunings systems and bridge configurations. Is Germany to thank for the guitar revolution? Probably not, but we contributed a great deal and helped the process along.

Dentist Revives Old German Style House

Dentist Revives Old German Style House

Oral Surgeon Office In Hartford CT

Think that German architecture only exists in Germany or Austria? Well, think again. Today our architectural exploration takes us all the way to the United States, specifically the state of Connecticut.

Recently a local dentist has seen fit to restore a German style house for his medical practice. The house was in state of disarray for the last 7-9 years, according to local reports, but the dentist, who is somewhat of an architecture nerd himself (his words, not mine) took a liking to it.

“The way I figured it was, our lease was just about run up on our office building over in Farmington and I had one of two choices. I could re-up our lease and pay the extra money that the leasing company was going to charge us in monthly rent, or I could look at relocating. Now I do routine dental implants in Hartford—you know—nothing out of the ordinary and I couldn’t afford the higher rent the leasing company was going to charge us. After talking to my wife, she encouraged me to relocate, and I simply fell in love with the German house that we have settled on.”

The house itself is nothing too architecturally amazing. It speaks of a bygone era of German style housing that once populated America’s Northeast. In the early 20th century, there was massive immigration to the U.S. from many European countries like Germany, Poland, Hungary, and many of the Scandinavian countries as well. People left for many reasons, a better opportunity, to start anew, and by the 1930s many Germans left because they feared war was about to break out.

This is where Northeastern German towns were born. The massive number of German citizens coming to America needed places that they could call their own and since most of the could speak just broken English, they made their own communities, with their own buildings, their own schools, and their own cultures. It was a reflection of their homeland.

Flash forward to today. Many of these historic houses are now falling apart. It is not necessarily all from neglect; many of the homes are close to 100 years old. They simply weren’t built to be around this long.

But the story of this dentist who went out of his way to restore a historic building speaks volumes for the community. It shows that some people still value the aesthetic work of a historic building, not just a new office building with the same windows and fluorescent lights as the rest of them.

He moved his practice about six months ago now and he says that his business is doing just fine since he and his wife relocated from his previous practice performing a Dental implants operation in Pontiac, Mi.

“This building has a personality to it. Much more than any office building could offer us. Plus, our customers love coming here now, especially the kids. It’s not so much like a trip to the dentist as it is a trip to a friend’s house now. Having this new office space has really helped out our dental implant business.”

We’re glad to see that they are doing well. Hopefully, in the future, we will see more and more classical German style housing be resurrected by families and business owners looking to preserve a little piece of history.

German Architecture: An Overview Part 2

German Architecture: An Overview Part 2

Semperoper-Front

In our last post we talked about three specific periods in German architecture: Roman, Gothic, and Modern. Well, these aren’t the only periods in the history of German architecture; there are many more. In this post, I want to highlight a few more of the mainstay designs that have caused Germany to be the historical and cultural wonderland that it is.

Renaissance

Many people have heard the term renaissance, thinking of Renaissance festivals or fairs, but not many are familiar with its actual meaning. The term renaissance actually means, “a revival or renewed interest in something.” As such, the Renaissance period was a time of revival in much of Europe. What architects attempted to do was draw on the architectural influence of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This can be seen in many of the designs of the day.

The Renaissance period of architecture took place in Germany sometime between the early 1400s and early 1600s, a period of roughly 200 years. One of the oldest works of Renaissance design in Germany is the Fugger Chapel, located inside of the renowned St. Anne’s church. While St. Anne’s church itself it an example of Baroque and Rococo work, Fugger’s Chapel, which is located inside of the church, is a classic example of Renaissance architecture. St. Anne’s was built in 1321 with the Fugger being endowed in 1509.  The church was originally built as a Catholic church but converted to Lutheranism after the Protestant Reformation.

Baroque

Much like the Renaissance era, many people have heard the term Baroque, thinking mostly of the music written and inspired by Bach and other composers, but not many realize that the Baroque period was also a thrive period for architecture.

The baroque period was inspired by much of what was happening in Europe during the early 17th century. Martin Luther had nailed his to the door in Wittenberg in 1517 and over the next 100 plus years, there was chaos all across the European continent. Calls from Protestants for reformation of the Catholic Church caused the church to take a hard stand against anyone who defected from the church and many were killed or burned at the stake. After years of Protestants calling for reformation, there was a movement within the Catholic Church to respond and make some reforms.

The Baroque period drew upon this movement and can be directly linked to the “counter reformation” as it were.

Some classic examples of Germany Baroque architecture are the Zwinger palace in Dresden and the Dresden Frauenkirche. As was the case with St. Anne’s church, the Frauenkirche was built as a Catholic church but later converted over to Lutheranism during the Protestant Reformation.

The Baroque period is one of my personal favorites in German architecture because of the rich history behind its meanings and designs. We went into a little bit of it in this post, but that doesn’t even begin to touch what was truly going on during this time in history. Going to these buildings and studying their placement, their arrangements, and the themes that are seen throughout, you can really get a feel for the angst and restlessness that was going on in that time.

If I had to advise you to see study German architecture, I would recommend Germany’s baroque period above all the others.

German Architecture: An Overview Part 1

German Architecture: An Overview Part 1

Kloster_Waldsassen

Germany has a wonderful history of architecture and in even though it is a small geographically, Germany has some of the most dynamic architectural works in the world.

Rich with a history dating back thousands of years, Germany has seen architecture periods dating all the way back to the Roman Empire with some of the world’s finest examples of Baroque, Carolingian, Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, Modern, and Post Modern architecture. Anyone who loves architecture would find themselves well at home living in Germany.

Today, I want to go through a few of Germany’s major architectural periods and describe them.

Roman

At one point in time, the Roman Empire extended all the way up to modern day Germany, with Emperor Titus building a series of roads and bridges around the land. During Rome’s time in Germany, they also built bridges, spas, and theaters. Germany’s Roman architecture is by far its oldest, ranging from around 100 to 150 A.D. This puts it at almost 2000 years old!

One of the best and well-preserved examples of Roman architecture in Germany is the Porta Nigra, located in the city of Trier. It was built with grey sandstone and is believed to have been constructed sometime between 185 and 200 A.D.

Unfortunately, as the Roman Empire began to fade, so did much of its influence on Germany. As the Empire collapsed in on itself and shrunk in its size, most of the technologies that were brought there as a result (heating, glass, windows) all but vanished.

Gothic

Gothic architecture is probably what Germany is best known for, and it was most popular during the medieval period. It is characterized by use of pointed arches and much of the gothic architecture in Germany was constructed by churches during the time period. Some of the best examples of it are the Cologne Cathedral, a massive double-spired Catholic Church and the Freiburg Münster.

Modern

Germany’s modern architecture cannot be understated in its difference from its Gothic and Baroque past. It began in the 20th century and still continues somewhat today. It employs much of how people today view Germans: efficient, functional, and lacking in aesthetics. One of the explicit goals of many modern German architects was to eliminate the use of unnecessary ornament from building, including only those things that were integral to the building structure. Contrast this with the spires of the Cologne Cathedral and you will see first-hand how architecture can make a u-turn in a relatively short period of time.

Visiting Germany

Any architectural student wishing to see a wide variety of architecture ranging from Ancient to Modern would be well served to visit Germany and check out its buildings. I took a semester abroad while I was in college to student German and French architecture and I advise anyone who is serious about the study to do the same. It’s one thing to study these works of art in books and lectures, but to experience them is an entirely different sensation. Buildings are how people are known for future generations. It is way of looking into the past and understanding what it is the people were trying to communicate. You can understand a culture by its buildings.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne_Cathedral

German architecture is truly some of the world’s finest—both its modern and historical work. While Germany has many wonderfully famous and celebrated contemporary architects, today we are going to focus on one of the Germany’s historical buildings: the Cologne Cathedral.

The Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church located in Cologne Germany on the Rhine River. It is currently where the Archbishop or Cologne is seated.

The Cathedral is a world-renown piece of Gothic architecture and is registered as a World Heritage site. The Cathedral attracts more than 20,000 visitors a day and is open year-round for tourists to come and visit.

It was built during the Gothic period of architecture, which was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. The construction originally started in the 13th century, but was stalled in 1473 and was left unfinished for almost 400 years. Construction resumed in the 19th century and was finally completed in 1880.

The cathedral is different from many other cathedrals from its time period in that it is not composed of a single spire. The Cologne Cathedral has two spires, each 515 feet tall, standing beside each other. These 515-foot spires marked the cathedral as the tallest building in the world from the year of its completion until 1884, when Ulm Minster, a Lutheran church located in Ulm, Germany, surpassed it.

Problems in World War 2

During World War 2, most of Germany’s major cities sustained heavy bombing from the Allied forces before Hitler’s eventual surrender. Cologne was no exception to this. Most of the city was completely leveled, but thankfully the Cathedral did not fall down.

This does not mean that it came out unscathed. It was hit by roughly 14 aerial bombs during the war, but still remained standing. Some historians claim that the two spires which trademark the Cathedral were easy to recognize, and were thus avoided as much as possible during the bombings.

After the war, the Cathedral underwent repairs for a number of years and was finished in 1956. We are all thankful that this wonderful piece of artwork is still able to grace the German people.

The Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany’s biggest tourist sites, and if you ever get a chance to visit, you must venture on over. The intricate stained glass, the towering spires, and the outstanding works of art that are inside all make for a great place to visit.

During my first trip to Germany, I actually went back to the Cathedral for a second day just to be able to fully take in and appreciate all of its magnificence. Being somewhat of an architecture geek, I analyzed the dimensions of the building and detailed the floor plans and layout. For instance, the two main aisles that are on both sides help to support the massive gothic vault in the Cathedral.

When you begin to analyze buildings in this way, you can see why and where rooms, pillars, columns, and walls are as they are. Architecture is not a willy-nilly study. Every piece of the Cathedral has a purpose and serves a greater function in the wider scope of the whole building.

I can’t advise you strong enough, if you have the opportunity, the Cologne Cathedral is a must see.