Architects deforming images may not recognize the communication of a caricature as ridicule. The visual comment could be seen as simply a translation of the original. This type of intention is dominant in architecture, where buildings contain elements of precedent, such as Robert Venturi 's sketch of the Gordon Wu Hall (Figure 3.16). Contrarily, the knowledge of the perceiver determines the meaning, which may or may not be understood. The difference between caricature and an imitation of precedent is ridicule, whether intentional or unintentional. The intention to demonstrate something more than an illusionary image comprises the loading and exposing of ridicule (Hutcheon, 1985).
Having introduced concepts of caricature, it is necessary to consider what it discloses about architectural sketches. Many questions arise about deformation's relationship to the image, and how and why the ridicule and deformation of buildings by architects when sketching help the architect better understand architecture and apply imagination. It is possible because sketches are a pliable medium; quick, graphically incomplete and vague, they do not destroy the building in transformation. The play qualities of sketches may allow for uninhibited ridicule, which may or may not transfer to the completed building. Seldom do architects sketch their buildings in their entirety; often the whole cannot be enlarged to see the specificity of the parts. Even when studying details, architects comprehend the whole, and a single element can reveal the concepts of the entire building.
A second sketch by the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa demonstrates how a detail can be reflected in the whole (Figure 4.3). This page is scattered with plans, details, diagrams and three-dimensional studies for the restaurant at the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona. Each image appears to contain a similar theme but has been studied at different scales. The largest drawing, placed in the center and possibly rendered first, is a plan articulating wall relationships. In various parts of the drawing can be seen the reveals that form interstitial spaces. An architectural 'reveal' (the void between two elements) has been traditionally used to separate two diverse construction materials. In the plan this concept is echoed where Scarpa pulls the walls away from each other in an effort to accent the space between. These relationships seem to notch into each other creating interconnected spaces that have been studied below the plan and in three-dimensions to the lower left of the sheet.
On another scale, the top and right sides (both top and bottom) of the page display construction details of a similar theme. These connectors are bent, curved, and bind negative spaces of similar shape. The distances between the materials create a certain tension in the internal volume.
The detail reinforces what the building is, and brings out its meaning through caricature. This is not so surprising since the concepts of the whole, the thoughts in Scarpa's mind, are unified and revealed throughout. Kris and Gombrich write about an important feature of caricature: ' [h]ere, too, a single feature often stands for the whole, and a person is represented by one salient characteristic only' (1938: 325). Features characteristically reminiscent can be treated similarly in a sketch because their likeness in treatment becomes a caricature.
A sketch, which demonstrates what architects think, can also caricature natural elements as metaphors. Architects draw images they are familiar with and alter or deform them either to create new forms or to understand those they are drawing. Kris and Gombrich further define the role of caricature for the artist:
...whereas the artist, although the most alive of all men to external stimuli, is nevertheless a person who elaborates, plays with and reshapes sensory experience under the influence of internal and affective states. With the turn of the century came a new means of grasping the ways in which the mind plays with elements of sensory experience and out of them shapes new patterns. (Kris & Gombrich, 1938: 319)
Metaphors can also provide a conceptual beginning for architecture, and are closely related to caricature, since caricature references an original in some form. This sketch by J0rn Utzon (Figure 4.4) explores a cloud metaphor to envision a ceiling for the Bagsvaerd Church in Bagsvaerd, Denmark. The Danish architect J0rn Utzon is known for his graceful and poetic sculptural forms that are responsive to individual conditions of site. Currently joined by his sons in the firm Utzon Associates Architects, he has completed a wide variety of projects from housing to monumental civic buildings. In 1957 he won the competition for a new Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Since that time he has completed such projects as the Planetstaden housing project in Lund, Sweden; the National Assembly of Kuwait; Bagsvaerd Community Church, in 1976; and the celebrated design of his house, Can Feliz in Majorca, Spain. Utzon has been awarded many honors such as the 2003 Pritzker Prize in Architecture, the C.F. Hansen Medal for Architecture, and Gold Medals from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
This page represents two sketches by Utzon for the Bagsvaerd Community Church. In a very clear reference, he has, on the left, sketched a beach scene with billowy clouds and, on the right, an interior space. Utzon rendered these perspectives in a soft medium, such as chalk or crayon, using a brilliant blue for the sky and water. In both sketches he sets figures in the middle of the space, bounded from above by clouds and by earth below. The comparison is certainly meant to be analogous. But the reference may also be metaphoric, where the ceiling is a cloud. It is possible that Utzon used this pair of sketches to explain a concept to the parishioners, but it may also have been to convince himself of the scene he was envisioning. He may have needed to visualize the perspective and the closeness of the clouds to create an interior space. As light speaks of a heavenly body in ecclesiastical architecture, these clouds may help worshipers raise their attentions to the sky.
A sketch presents a quick method to confirm the metaphor, with enough ambiguity to render the comparison plausible. The techniques of the sketches are sufficiently alike as to reinforce the
relationship. As the scene on the left focuses attention on the horizon, the interior space focuses on the transparent cross. The sketch on the right, although not necessarily evoking ridicule, certainly simplifies and deforms the scene to comprehend the comparison and thus the intelligence.
When architects employ sketches to explore abstract concepts, their sketches contain individual value. To discover a beginning point or work through a detail, some architects first draw images they are familiar with to start cognitive analogies. Because these first drawings are loose and simple, the architect does not need to be concerned with the delicacies of connection. As in a caricature, the austere, vague forms allow the artist to combine, for example, a human's body and a goat 's head. The metamorphosis — the transformation of human into animal, or animal into human — is common in caricature. With similar change, '[t]he Carracci transformed the portraits of their friends into pots, lanterns or barrels' (Kris & Gombrich, 1938: 334). This transformation can change a human into an animal but still retains the likeness. The following example illustrates this caricature of physiognomy.
This famous group of human profiles by Leonardo da Vinci demonstrates some explorations of physiognomy (Figure 4.5). Leonardo was a fervent observer of his environment. He used observation as a method to understand the nature of the world around him. This empirical approach was the basis for much of his artwork and the 'research' in his notebooks. Being a painter, sculptor, city planner, fortress designer, inventor, and architect, Leonardo understood the importance of likeness in all these disciplines, and thus approached each with a similar purpose.
uSofi MILASO - Studio - Leonardo da Vinci ? - Pinac Ambrosi&na - -"->"'"
FIGURE 4.5 Leonardo da Vinci; Study of Heads (pen and ink on paper).
uSofi MILASO - Studio - Leonardo da Vinci ? - Pinac Ambrosi&na - -"->"'"
FIGURE 4.5 Leonardo da Vinci; Study of Heads (pen and ink on paper).
These human head profiles may have been drawn entirely from observation. If that was the case, he located an unusually large assemblage of deformed specimens for study. Unlike many of his contemporaries, ideal beauty was less important than rendering the uniqueness that he observed. This was partially because much of the purpose of his work benefited his own understanding rather than presentation. Since physiognomy can be defined as a comparison of appearances to character, this group of head studies by Leonardo may have been an inquiry into human nature in relation to character (Swain and Boyes-Stones, 2007). These heads have been placed on one sheet, not pasted together as a collection. This would imply a focus and theme to their compilation. His fascination with the deformed or exaggerated may have emerged from applying this rigorous methodology. Inspecting these profiles, it is possible to recognize comparison to various animals. The beak-like or pug noses, the absent or elongated chins allude to non-human traits. It is possible that he chose these heads because of the caricature he viewed in their actual forms, or he deformed or exaggerated their features to capture the reference to other mammals. It is also plausible that he found interest in the transformation of their features into the extreme as caricature, thus conveying the depth of their personalities.
In another reference to physiognomy, this sketch by the Spanish architect, artist and engineer Santiago Calatrava (Figure 4.6) finds the reference of human form to understand the character of dynamic and metaphorical allusion for structural elements. Calatrava, with a background in Fine Art, received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 1979. He established his reputation with bridge projects such as the Alamillo Bridge and Viaduct and the Campo Volantin Footbridge in Bilbao.
The office of Santiago Calatrava L.L.C. has completed projects such as the BCE Place Hall in Toronto; the Oriente Railway Station in Lisbon; the Sondica Airport in Bilbao; the expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum; and the Athens Olympic Sports Complex. He has been awarded numerous honors including the Gold Medal of the Institute of Structural Engineers; the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, Ministry of Culture, Spain; membership in the Les Artes et Lettres, Paris; and the AIA Gold Medal.
In this sketch a chain of human forms can be seen across the top of the page. The other image on the page is a single male form with defined muscular structure. The figures have been sketched in graphite with watercolor to render volume. On top of the row of figures are u-shaped pieces that refer to webs in a structural system. Here, Calatrava was not necessarily distorting or mimicking a structural form, but instead equating the character and inherent nature of human bodies in tension. If compared to caricature, the bodies are not deformed, rather the positioning and abstraction suggests a relationship between the two — body and structural system — revealing a disposition of the figures. This intrinsic truth has been displayed visually to make its meaning more vivid. Seeing the muscles and understanding the nature of human anatomy assists Calatrava to envision this relationship. Although knowledgeable of the concepts, the visual indicators 'prove' to him the appropriate proportions. Interestingly, in the sketch of the large central figure, the presence of the human head has been diminished by drawing it bent forward. This technique of abstraction strengthens the comparison to a structural system and simplifies the figure to its essence, a method distinctive of caricature. The intentional distortion displays the intelligence of the architect through the metaphoric allusion.
Returning to the page of sketches by Jun Itami (Figure 2.5), it is possible to recognize an architect 's reference to history or to work by another architect. Itami recalls the form, heavy concrete walls, domed space, and the eye/hand symbol so distinctive of architect Le Corbusier. This reference to Le Corbusier could not be accidental. The reuse may not represent ridicule, but the transformation certainly suggests a pursuit of distinguishing character. This example may exhibit how architects caricature other buildings, whether as precedent, analysis or imitation. Kris and Gombrich support this notion when they explain how an artist caricatures a figure. 'He [the artist] consciously alters his model, distorts it, plays with its features, and thus shows the power of his imagination — which can exalt as well as degrade' (Kris & Gombrich, 1938: 338).
Using imagination to locate the essence of the figure with a minimal number of lines has traditionally been distinctive of caricature. In Figure 4.7 swift lines create an entire impression without the accuracy of details. This sketch, by Rafael Vinoly for the Van Andel Institute, shows the energetic lines of an architect wanting to see a quick volume to explore relative shapes. Born in Uruguay, Vinoly first began his practice in Argentina. In 1983, he founded Rafael Vinoly Architects PC in New York City. Defying a specific style, his sensitive work responds distinctly to
individual site conditions and programs. The types of buildings in his portfolio are equally diverse with such projects as the Tokyo International Forum; the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; the National Institutes of Health at the University of California; and the Samsung Jong-Ro Tower in Seoul. Vinoly is a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects and has been honored for many of his projects. An educator and practitioner his dedication to the development of young architects is evidenced in his office 's Research Fellowship program.
The simplicity and unfinished qualities of this drawing do not encourage a questioning of how the connections can actually be accomplished. Although the element of reality is small, the fantasy remains believable. Kris and Gombrich explain this important element of caricature: ' soon, however, a new feature was added which has ever since then constituted one of the essentials of caricature, namely simplification' (1938: 324). A fast line is one that confidently defines a form with smooth uninterrupted flow. Speed can also show in the way the ends of lines return and lift off the page. Also, in identifying a swift line, it is possible to view a continuous stream, since taking the pen off the page requires time. It also may demonstrate fast thinking to synthesize forms and make intelligent connections. Quick lines, also, are less rectangular since changing the direction of the stroke requires a hesitation.
The organizing feature of the page is a pyramid-shaped form edged by scalloped lines. The less distinct building appears as a volume in the center. In an apparent effort to provide context, Vinoly has filled in with looped marks that quickly replicate foliage. The trees and bushes are shown as M 's and reversed N 's. These beautiful fluid lines undulate in different directions to represent various kinds of background. The diagonal zigzag marks could be bushes, on the lower left and tighter, these lines could represent smaller plants. To the right, the lines turn more horizontal to suggest grass or pavement. These wonderful lines actually appear continuous, as if Vinoly never lifted the pen as he articulated the various foreground and background elements. Here, the simplification gives him a quick image that assists him to visualize the form of the building in context.
In a second sketch from Michael Rotondi, the proportional caricature reflects from section to elevation or in reverse. Obviously, in the convention of architectural drawing, elevations and sections have some commensurable relationships and, although not universally true, floor plates or fenestration patterns correspond from interior to exterior. Looking at Figure 4.8 it is possible to see a series of sketches, elevation, section and three-dimensional views of the Architecture and Art building at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. The page, drawn with pencil, consists of various views accompanied by verbal description — words to further explain orientation or materials.
This sketch speaks of a concern for the whole where façades and internal spaces correlate. His light hand renders thoughtful lines, as if attempting to understand the building through the drawing. Even though a sketch is very seldom a direct relationship between conceptual stages of design and the finished building, here it appears Rotondi was designing the interior volume simultaneously with the exterior. The horizontal stratification, in the top sketch, does not factor so prominently in the completed building. These horizontal lines, of what appears to be an elevation, anticipate the layers of the floors in the section and three-dimensional view. The second sketch is a section indicated by how Rotondi used poché to define the internal volume. In instances where the theme of the building is strong, the different elements are certain to reveal similarities. Although not necessarily intentional, imitating an approach from one sketch to another acts to caricature the whole.
Often a sketch can be a caricature of the drawing itself, or of the drawing that the architect is perceiving as the building, an example of which is a sketch by Denise Scott Brown (Figure 4.9). Denise Scott Brown is a partner with Robert Venturi of Venturi Scott Brown Architects in Philadelphia, and their joint projects have been related earlier. Scott Brown, with expertise in urban design, brings to the partnership a depth of planning experience. This sketch is a study for the façade of the Lewis Thomas Laboratory at Princeton University. It has been drawn in ink on tracing paper with bold single lines. The façade demonstrates symmetrical window patterning, and the windows on the top level are efficient in their basic rendition of fenestration. The street level has been detailed to indicate an arched doorway and large windows.
The left half of the sketch is more finished than the right half. This would suggest that Scott Brown is right-handed and began on the left side of the page. Beginning to draw on the left side of a sheet is common since it keeps the drawing medium from being smeared. This assumption is particularly pertinent with this sketch because the architectural elements on the left side are more complete than on the right. The checkerboard pattern of tiles has been emphasized with some darker portions; by comparison, the right side has been left as a grid. The same is true with several of the windows, begun to the left and eliminated on the right. This may suggest that once Scott Brown had drawn the basic elements of the design and perceived how they would appear, she only needed to see a caricature of the remaining features to understand, and form judgments about, the whole combination of lines. The sketch may then caricature itself, particularly because what was discovered in one half of a symmetrical building need not be discovered again. One half was sufficient to understand the entire façade.
A sketch from the architectural practice schmidt hammer lassen in Denmark reinforces the proposal that architects caricature their own buildings and those by other architects. This sketch by Morten Schmidt creates a three-dimensional environment through the use of bold horizontal lines (Figure 4.10). The project is the Aarhus Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the sketch portrays a distinctive feature of the building. The building has been sliced creating a crevice that acts as an atrium. The interior curved ramps, each convex to the atrium, create a tension in the interstitial space. The ramps in the finished building are constructed of smooth concrete, but the multiple parallel lines, in the sketch, present a vibrating energy to the space. A rendered perspective of the completed atrium would in actuality reveal only a few lines, but Schmidt 's sketch concentrates on the intended activity of the relationship between the two arced elements. The sketch was completed in a minimal amount of time, as the lines do not hesitate, they are remarkably unwavering, and snap back on themselves. The figures in the space are small verticals intercepting the horizontals, caricaturing
only one quality of human form. With this image, Schmidt was utilizing simplification and distortion to emphasize the importance of horizontal rows and to caricature the building.
Schmidt 's sketch is also reminiscent of images by Erich Mendelsohn of such buildings as Columbushaus and the Government Hospital in Haifa. Like those by Schmidt, Mendelsohn's sketches find the essence by deforming the intended building into a series of strong horizontals. Not necessarily a conscious reference, the two architects resolved visualizing a distinct feature with like sketches. To display the essence of either ribbon windows or horizontal ramps, they each chose a technique most able to convey the idea with a pointed medium. Pulling forward the most distinguishing feature became the edges. Here Schmidt was not creating a monster by recombining elements psychologically, but is exaggerating specific elements to make a caricature which is purely visual.
The great architect Santiago Calatrava's sketch for the Planetarium at the Valencia Science Centre references work by another architect and additionally evokes a metaphor. This sketch (Figure 4.11), from 1992, suggests a section drawing from the design for Newton's Cenotaph by Etienne-Louis Boullee. The building type of a planetarium requires a spherical shape and Boullee 's Cenotaph, although a markedly different building type, was also conceived as an artificial sky. The final construction of this planetarium by Calatrava has been embedded in the Science Center, whose shape brings to mind a blinking eyelid. The metaphor of an eye was certainly intentional in the design. The suggestion of an eye, as the window to the soul, implies a search for knowledge and the learning that takes place in a science center. It appears Calatrava first sketched the circular form and then rendered it with watercolor. The nature of watercolor may be the best medium to reveal the internal concave form of the Planetarium. The drawing, as a representation of the future building, also elicits an atmospheric softness appropriate for studying the stars. Although Boullee 's proposal was freestanding and significantly different from the design by Calatrava, a first glance sparks a memory.
Sketches are capable of conveying visual compilations that defy nature, such as unusual combinations that do not necessitate the logic of the connections. In a similar way, the exaggeration of specific features helps architects to understand particular aspects of immediate focus in their design process. The concentration may involve solving a specific problem, such as a detail, view or question of form. Exaggeration may assist to study an element more intently. As seen above, Morten Schmidt focused on the space between the two curved walls and the relative perforation of these walls, thus his immediate concern was not structure or dimensions. Architects through history, such as Hugh Ferriss, have used sketches to demonstrate conceptual notions of the building 's presence in the context of a city. By the use of dramatic lighting, Ferriss exaggerated the height of a building to elicit a fantastical, and often inspirational, impression. The Italian Futurist architect Sant'Elia evoked a technological future in his dramatic sketches and, in a similar way, Cesar Pelli employed his sketch (Figure 3.13) to visualize the Petronas Twin Towers in the light of the Malaysian atmosphere.
This page of sketches by the Chicago architect Helmut Jahn (Figure 4.12) considers a high rise building in the context of a city. Helmut Jahn is the design principal of Murphy/Jahn. Their work has received many AIA Chicago Chapter awards, several Structural Engineering awards, and a national AIA award. A large and prolific firm, a few of their more recent projects include the Shanghai International Expo Center; FKB Airport Cologne/Bonn; the European Union Headquarters in Brussels; and the IIT Student Housing in Chicago.
This densely rendered page is a study for the 362 West Street building in Durban, South Africa. This analysis sketch carefully explores the building' s footprint on the site with figure/ground diagrams. On this page, Jahn investigates three variations for the building across the top of the page. The second row of sketches examines several additional variations on the octagonal-shaped first option. These systematically presented sketches are beautiful in their record of a thought process,
starting with the plan and immediately considering the three-dimensional manifestation. The four sketches on the lower half of the sheet envision the skyscraper at night, either lit from within or from its position in the city. In each instance, the background is not clouds, but rather a searchlight or directional streams of light emitting from behind the building. Plans and sections have been added onto these drawings to help understand the perspective view. Since the interior spaces in a high rise building are often designated by the tenants, Jahn was concentrating on the contextual presence so important to a skyscraper. The dramatic background anticipated the monumentality that is truly the function of a tall building. This caricature, or exaggeration, creating a theatrical view anticipates the monumentality of the future building.
In this sketch by Erich Mendelsohn (Figure 4.13) he uses many different indicators to help convey scale. Although often rendering sleek, machine-like buildings, Mendelsohn employs brief
and abstract lines to render context and background. On this page of sketches for the Hadassah University Medical Center at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, he uses window patterning and proportional form to describe scale. The sheet contains five images placed in close proximity. The top is an elevation with dark ribbon windows, very representative of his previous architectural work. The lower four sketches show a combination of small punched and ribbon windows at the corners of the building. Counting the rows of windows makes it possible to imagine the size and scale of the project.
It appears that the building sits on the crest of a hill, since the perspective looks up to the structure. This perspective renders a dramatic and monumental view. Because the buildings have been drawn with more detail than the context, and the context overlaps other buildings, it is conceivable that the large curved horizon lines were a later addition. It feels as if the arched sky was the last line to 'finish' the sketch and give it context. This large arc appears to indicate the illusion was complete and thus one unified entity. Similarly, the looped and scalloped lines in the foreground appear to represent trees and bushes. They have been drawn very quickly and seem to be used to 'frame' the perspective. It is remarkable that one rapid modulated line can demonstrate the siting of the building. Not taking the time to draw foliage, Mendelsohn caricatures the natural elements on the site with less articulation than the objects of his focus.
Morten Schmidt of schmidt hammer lassen renders human figures with the same contextual regard as Mendelsohn does foliage. In Figure 4.14 the people are no more than vertical lines. The ability to recognize them as humans stems from their relative size and placement on the walkways. They may be viewed as part of the context, and thus are indicators of scale, and with such a minimal and quick sketch they are sufficiently rendered as thick lines. This brilliantly quick and precise sketch exhibits the procession to the entrance of the Aarhus Museum of Modern Art,
ARoS. Here it appears the sketch was drawn with the processional layering of the walkway in mind. Interestingly, the trees showing void were outlined before the horizontal stripes of the building behind. If Schmidt was thinking only of the building, the trees would have been an afterthought. In the same way the entrance ramp was a priority and completed early. This sketch shows great skill. Schmidt 's control of the medium is remarkable since the horizontal lines on the side of the building are nearly straight and parallel. The caricature of the zigzag lines to indicate the interior of the slice and the shadows in the trees, the minimal people, and using no superfluous lines provided him with an understanding necessary to make a judgment.
As another aspect of caricature, the human body becomes a metaphor for some architects in their sketches. Historically, caricature began with transforming the image of a human to visually reveal character traits. This comparison, of human features to qualities as abstract as personality, acts metaphorically to expose another dimension of understanding. Returning to Filarete 's description of a building as a human being adds to the metaphorical comparison.
This sketch by Michael Rotondi (Figure 4.15), principal of RoTo Architects, which explores the organizational design for the Architecture and Art building at Prairie View A&M University, began as a metaphor of the human body. This plan displays a rectangle representing the organization of the building. The shape has been colored with yellow pencil and contains several wavy lines (one in red pencil). The words are most important on this sketch: to the left has been written 'memory' and ' meaning'; to the right Rotondi has written ' making'. Underneath the drawing he has added the words 'LABS', 'BODY', and 'The organization'.
It is clear he viewed the body metaphor in this project, as he has marked the left side of the drawing as the ' head'. Although the project in plan does not resemble a human form in any way, he was seeing the memory/meaning/cultural archives as the 'head'. The other parts placed along a spine add to the metaphor. On the rectangle, he also revealed the types of spaces and the potential materials for construction, things that are difficult to express visually in a diagram. The diagram, then, becomes part of his thinking from the conceptual metaphor to the anticipation of materials. It may have acted as a parti, which he returned to during the entire design process.
This sketch, with its simplicity, poignant wit and allusion to a truth, may be likened to a caricature, as it gave Rotondi the essence of the project. Kris and Gombrich provide insight into the connection between these sketches and the finished building when they note that ' .caricature, showing more of the essential, is truer than reality itself' (Kris & Gombrich, 1938: 321).
Santiago Calatrava suggests anthropomorphic form in his architecture. He understands structural properties of materials through the physiology of animals and humans, and also their analogous shapes. In this sketch (Figure 4.16) Calatrava was equating a structural detail to a human form. This study is particularly interesting since he visually morphed the human into the steel form in a series of sketches. The left image reveals an elongated figure. The other three represent figures in various forms of abstraction, bent and outstretched as if reaching. The four sketches sit on a datum line that almost appears to be a ledge. The lines, describing the people, are fragmented, while smooth fluid marks replicate the characteristics of steel. The figures presented in profile flex where a human's torso meets the legs, finding the natural pose of a figure and also comparing the thickness of the steel to the thickness of a body. The addition of watercolor over the lines bestows a three-dimensional and muscular quality to both the human and the steel section. The figures exist in isolation; they have not been attached to the pieces they are intended to support. This detachment reinforces their autonomy as distinctly human. Identifying human forms to be molded into steel appears anthropomorphic in his work, since he compares human proportions and anatomic composition to stresses and the inanimate attributes of steel.
The Chicago Tribune Competition of 1922 provides some interesting examples of caricature in building proposals. All buildings, especially those imitating and distorting antiquity, caricature existing buildings in some way. Architecture, Mysticism and Myth, by William Lethaby, discusses how each building is in some way a representation of a tree, the first assemblage of shelter (Lethaby, 1974). Possibly then, it can be said that every building is a caricature; but a caricature relies upon
representation. The caricature requires reference to the original figure so that it can ridicule. In this way, sketches reflect the personality and hidden meaning of the original in order to envisage the caricature, just as the artist looks to the human model for a subject of ridicule.
The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition offers many examples of ridicule in caricature. An entry by Frank Fort (Figure 4.17) proposes a massive granite building with rows of Greek diaphers. On the top rests a replica of a Greek temple. This might be viewed as a caricature of a temple, but it is less so than other projects wearing Greek robes (Figure 4.18). The project by Fort is a copy of
FIGURE 4.18 Milnar, Chapman and Markes; Chicago Tribune Tower Competition,
FIGURE 4.18 Milnar, Chapman and Markes; Chicago Tribune Tower Competition,
a Greek temple, which appears to be exact in ornamentation and proportion. The ridicule seems evident as it could be asked, 'Why a Greek temple placed on a skyscraper for the Chicago Tribune Newspaper in Chicago?'
Other projects in the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition are less blatant, and seem to be more typical caricatures. The caricature consists of references to elements of a Greek temple, but the transformation, not so subtly, has been used to encourage contemplation about the role of a Greek
temple. Does the Chicago Tribune Corporation have the ritual or sacred qualities to be a place of religion like a temple? The architects may be ridiculing the notion of praying to the almighty gods of communication, since some entries are topped with Mercury, the god of swiftness and communication, a likely symbol for a newspaper. The architects may have been responding to the monumental-ity of this skyscraper in Chicago in comparison to the incredible longevity of some Greek temples.
The caricature appears striking where the Greek temple is topped by a ziggurat roof or an angel (Figure 4.19). Combining the ritual monuments of different cultures emphasizes the tie of this building (or this corporation) to lasting and important structures. Also, the building can then be related to the knowledge, development and importance of these historical societies. The Program of the Competition document states, ' It cannot be reiterated too emphatically that the primary objective of the Chicago Tribune in instituting this competition is to secure the design for a structure distinctive and imposing — the most beautiful office building in the world ' (1923, 31). With this statement in mind it must be assumed that each architect created the most beautiful building possible. It is interesting to observe what these architects in 1922 saw as ' most beautiful ' . The Greek temples, Gothic cathedrals and Egyptian details are not surprising, as the architects looked to find the most beautiful buildings in the world for models. The building becomes a caricature of what each architect believed was beautiful.
There are a few factors which might influence the caricatures of many of the entrants. The year 1906 was the time of a highly publicized international competition for a Palace of Peace at The Hague. The historian Spiro Kostof writes that ' the overwhelming majority, including the top winners, was blatantly historicist' (1985: 685). The influences of the previous 15 years, besides the Palace of Peace, include Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright; sketches by Sant ' Elia; Union Station in Washington D.C.; factories by Peter Behrens; and Notre Dame, in La Raincy, by Auguste Perret. Another influence was the ' ..powerful Beaux-Arts method that affected almost everyone, traditionalist and usurper, in matters of composition' (Kostof, 1985: 685). Changing times made ridicule easy and created a great variety of entries.
The huge column submitted by Adolf Loos (1870—1933), who worked in Vienna and was an anti-ornamentalist (Figure 4.20), seems a caricature of antiquity especially since it was designed in 1922, 12 years after his stark Modernist Steiner House. The column, with its perfect proportions and fluting, is less a caricature than the project by Mathew L. Freeman, whose building is quite large and starkly simple with plain pediments. His column-topped building (Figure 4.21) distorts the column by shortening it. This column is offered as useless for all but ornamentation, as it has no windows or openings. On the other hand, Loos' column has a simple stepped back base much more consistent with a column, and the building-column describes useful space with windows.
Freeman's competition entry ridicules the use of a column, attaching the column to the building in an uncertain connection. As with artists' caricatures discussed earlier, the method of drawing allows this connection without questions of how it could be accomplished. The half column arbitrarily placed on a building seems quite easy in a sketch. This incomplete column is transformed to serve a purpose distinct from the function of a column. The ridicule conveyed by topping a building with a classical column in a time of impending Modernism, the distortion of this feature, the strange juxtaposition in relation to the pediments, the column's uselessness, and the audacity of placing this building prominently in Chicago, all exemplify the ridicule in caricature. Baudelaire expresses this ridicule in his work on caricature, '.the comic is a mark of human dualism, a sense of superiority over the object of laughter and of inferiority relative to the absolute' (Hannoosh, 1992: 9).
It is necessary to discuss a few final projects which use architecture and architects of the past as models for ' the most beautiful office building in the world. ' A project by Bliss and Faville shows a drawing which appears almost as a replica of an Italian Bell tower (Figure 4.22). Similarly, a project by Saverio Dioguardi (Figure 4.23) resembles an Arch of Triumph. These sketches are caricatures, although not at all subtle; in these instances, a building is taken from history and transformed into a skyscraper for Chicago.
The Italian Bell tower copies a bell tower, but as a skyscraper it makes few alterations. The function may be somewhat changed; the tower is attached to a building of typical skyscraper fen-estration and the location is modified. The image of an original bell tower is not transformed; it remains strikingly literal. Why does the Chicago Tribune need a bell tower? To call the congregation to mass? How functional is the large arched doorway opening one floor off the street? Why does a saint stand at the corner of this building? The caricature is beautiful in its ridicule. The juxtaposition to the city of Chicago satirizes the role of this bell tower.
This discussion of caricature has referred to a time in history when the role of artists changed to allow their creative nature to transform and recombine. Kris and Gombrich view the skills of an artist to ridicule a subject: '[f]rom an imitator he became a creator, from a disciple of nature its master. The work of art was a vision born in his mind...Thus for the first time the sketch was held in high esteem as the most direct document of inspiration' (1938: 331). This employment of caricature by artists gives insight into architectural sketches.
One key to sketching and caricature is imagination, whether a human trait or a product of divine inspiration. Michelangelo uses the term Fantasia to mean creative imagination, a vital aspect for the artist or architect (Summers 1981). Having discussed fantasia earlier, it seems necessary in conclusion to reiterate its importance. Caricature 's distinctive characteristics are contingent upon the viewer 's perception of a mental impression, and how that image provides for new thinking. It becomes possible to view the thinking process in sketches and particularly in the wit of caricature. The caricature helps the architect 's creative imagination through visual recombination.
The quickness, economy, imagination, wit, intelligence, and ridicule of caricature offer a method to interpret architectural sketches. Caricature, in most cases, acquires its foundation from what is known. The social and cultural aspects of architecture determine what is caricatured because the ridicule of one period in history is not necessarily understood in another. Times of great change in
architecture, when the new replaces the old, often provide a stage for ridicule. Through recombination, deformation and transformation, architects look to their 'inner self' for creative inspiration, which plays an important role in caricature. This quote by Kris and Gombrich can also apply to architects:
The artist,' they claimed, 'is not an imitator of crude reality. He goes beyond reality in visualizing the 'ideas', the essence of things. Only the artistic genius has this gift of vision which enables him to open his mind to the idea of beauty and to realize it in the work of his hand. 'Invenzione', power of imagination, is considered the most noble of the artist's gifts (1938: 331—332).
The instances where the architect uses caricature to comment on other buildings, details, or the human body, are dependent upon representation. The sketch as a caricature refers to a known element in order to distort and exaggerate. This is true in all but one situation; the exception is exhibited when the sketch is a caricature of the finished work. In most cases the sketch is completed before the finished building, or even simultaneously. The caricature in this event precedes the eventual building and is reminiscent of the sketch by containing characteristic concepts.
Caricature becomes evident in architectural sketches in several ways. A detail can speak of a building 's entirety. This detail, in sketch form, is a premonition of, or becomes a simplified sign of, the building as a whole. A sketch can recombine building elements from history to caricature structures designed by other architects. The sketches in this chapter utilize various components to simplify and incorporate visual images. Another form of caricature in architectural sketches involves the metaphor of the human body. This metaphor is extremely common in proportioning buildings throughout history, but here the body also becomes caricatured.
Ridicule is an important issue in caricature, along with transformation and deformation. This ridicule can involve satirical transformation or absurd juxtaposition. The caricature shows visually in the deformation or exaggeration used to transform the subject into the ridiculous, so that the truth may be perceived in the distortion. The study of architectural sketches viewed through caricature can reveal another dimension in the interpretation of architecture.
Was this article helpful?