Some aspects of order in architecture
Timme, Robert H.
Master of Architecture
It is within an understanding of order as an intermediate between perception and meaning that architectural universals can be found. To achieve this understanding we can establish the following three components as a model for comprehension of the complexity of architecture: Components, or the smallest element individually perceived as a whole Order, or relationship of components Semantics, or meaning of the composition Architectural form gives meaning to the space. By meaning, we are talking about "sense" and not "reference". If we are going to discuss form or components in architecture, we have to discuss the sense that those elements give to space. We can establish three form types whose distinction or classification is based upon the effect of form on the extent of space. Columnar - a component or form that acts as a location or fix to one's perception of space, but around which, one's space is uninterrupted. Planar: a component or form that defines a limit or separation between two spaces that are perceived as being contiguous, merely separated by the component. Massive: a component or form that defines the limits or edge of a space. No cognition or perception of the space continuing into or around the form exists. It is important that we realize that color, texture, pattern, scale, etc; are further descriptions of the form of elements and in effect, further descriptions of the character of the nature of space. Each of these qualities can reinforce the general "sense" imparted by the gross physical form of the component. These qualities may also serve to establish a totally new spatial sense which may give either further definition or contrast to the general sense. Complex components can impart multiple meanings which are incredibly rich. There are three basic orders that occur in architecture : Central - information related or ordered to a common location. Linear: information related to one another through a sequence. The reference becomes a line or alignment. Areal: information related to a field; related to a space within which general definition occurs. It must be emphasized that these three orders represent the simplest possible states of syntax. In an actual view of architecture or environment, one might find multiple orders overlaid one upon another; numerous transformations of order and changes in apparent order as the scale increases or decreases. Before we can being to examine such complexities, we must first establish certain fundamental ideas about order. These fundamentals are; 1. The same components have different meanings (senses) depending upon their order. 2. The same components in the same relative location may have multiple orders. 3. The same components in the same relative location may have different meanings (senses) depending upon the order(s) perceived. 4. The same components in the same relative location may simultaneously have multiple meanings (senses) depending upon the multiple orders perceived. Meaning in architecture is a result of the combination of component and order. It is the "sense" of the component and order, not the reference, that conveys the meaning. Sense in architecture makes space and form understandable, and it does so by relating the individual's position and movement through form and space. "Sense" allows the individual to interpret ordered relationships in terms of implied movement. Numerous transformations may occur within universal orders resulting in complex form-space relationships that respond to a variety of specific issues. The results, though far removed from their basic antecedents, can still communicate a strong sense and can still be extremely expressive.