Patchwork 3 – Analysis and Comparison of Both Pre-Existing and Contemporary Buildings

Topics: Louvre, Florence, I. M. Pei Pages: 6 (1882 words) Published: November 28, 2012
The Musée du Louvre and its Pyramid, and St Paul’s Cathedral with the nearby 30 St Mary Axe were the chosen topics by both members of our group. All of these buildings are iconic building within their cities, and all were designed and built with vastly different contexts and purposes in mind. In this essay we will compare and contrast the different buildings in a manner that will help us understand the juxtaposition of old and new buildings. We will also investigate what made the contemporary buildings in question switch status from controversial to widely accepted as unique and brilliant pieces of architecture. After considering the different context(s) and style(s) of the building we will present our informed personal opinions based upon our research, to reach a conclusion in accordance with the research question. Before we undertake an analysis we will quickly summarise what has been aforementioned in Patchworks 1 & 2.

The two buildings that one of the members of the group researched were the Musée du Louvre and the Pyramide du Louvre. The Musée as it stands now, was designed by Pierre Lescot for the King of France (at the time Francis I), however the designed and context of the building was radical and completely out of context with the western European style of its time (THOMPSON, Renaissance Paris: Architecture & Growth 1475-1600, p183). The style of architecture that the Louvre is of Renaissance origin, the architect; Pierre Lescot was said to have never visited Italy, and studied Italian Renaissance architecture only from third parties. Meaning his point of reference was only that of textbooks, sketches and other architects (HANSER, Architecture of France, 2006, p116). However this does not mean he didn’t manage to create a Renaissance style building, the design and style of the Louvre is typical of the Renaissance, with the over-ornamentation and relief, and not plain surfaces. These are examples of typical French Renaissance over-decoration (MOORE, Character of Renaissance Architecture, 1905, p200).

In patchwork 2 the focus was on the Pyramide du Louvre (a.k.a. The Louvre Pyramid), the design of which was done by I M Pei (as part of a commission by the president François Mitterrand). The need for a reception/ welcome area for the museum was urgent, but space was scarce. Pei constructed an idea to go underground, topped with a pyramid made of glass and steel. A somewhat radical idea when considering a high-tech architectural construction would be positioned next to the Renaissance era architecture of the Louvre Museum (PIMLOTT, Without and Within: Essays on Territory and the Interior, 2007, p255; HEYER. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century, 1993, p275-278). Of course placing a pyramid (being a symbol of burial, and of an entirely different culture) in front of The Louvre did not go too smoothly with the public, and many criticised both Pei and Mitterrand’s intentions. However the pyramid was not a direct connotation to Ancient Egypt, but rather a fresh approach to a classical design. Mitterrand was also criticised for blocking the view of the historical buildings by putting the pyramid in the middle of the courtyard, but due to its semi-transparent nature the pyramid juxtaposes The Louvre perfectly with the contrast of transparency and opaqueness (RUSTOW, ‘Transparent Contradictions’: Pei’s Pyramid at The Louvre, 2006, p6).

The two buildings that the other member of the group researched were St Paul’s Cathedral designed by Christopher Wren, (construction finished in 1677), and 30 St Mary’s Axe designed by Norman Foster and partners, (construction finished in 2003). Both these buildings were built to replace previously destroyed buildings. St Paul’s was built to replace old St Paul’s which was one of the biggest buildings in Europe at the time. Most of the building was destroyed by the Great Fire of London and in 1668 a Royal Warrant was issued for the complete...
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