The Dichotomy Between Spiritualism and Rationalism

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  • Topic: Spirituality, Leonardo da Vinci, Pantheon, Rome
  • Pages : 5 (1919 words )
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  • Published : March 12, 2011
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The dichotomy between Spiritualism and Rationalism

The purpose of this report is to discover how architecture, art, science and spirituality relate to each other. Initially, it is appropriate to introduce and analyze Boullè cenotaph, Turrell’s crater and the pantheon, showing which similarities they have in common. Furthermore, relating these three projects to the notion of spirituality, it is essential to write about what it represent and what is the role of science in spirituality.

Around the 1800s in Architecture, but also in every branch of knowledge, there is a feeling of chang and a renewal of all the obsolete traditional values. Moreover with the architect Gropius that create the revolutionary school of Bauhaus and furthermore with the first moderns that spread a sense of creating something new, starting from zero. As a matter of fact, Boullè as Ledoux; worked in years where people as Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquie and Newton represent a revolution around 1780-1800 and it is around this period that Boullè project take place. From his work it is easy to recognize the characters of the Enlightment as a new sense of conscience and a revolution that will take the human as a epicentre of everything. Many are the monuments, houses, cemeteries with a sphere-shaped around those years. Boullè, living in a rationalist period use this figure to symbolize perfection and everything relates to the divine. The circle as a drawing has been used often in Rome, on the Campidoglio’s pavement or Sant peter’s entrance and for churches as S. Stefano Rotondo. During centuries the circle has been used since Stonehenge but also in Sarmizegethusa or in Chaco canyon. As Buckminster Fuller, creator of the geodesic dome motto was: “More than less”.[1]

These three projects have been joined together because of the their main similarity: the sphere. All of those structures are constructed around this geometrical figure and even if Boullè’s cenotaph has never been built, it is a well chosen example for this discussion. It may seem that this project reflect the description that Boullè affirm of himself as the inventor of an “Architecture des ombres”, however is in this architecture that we can claim the progress of the society and the use of rationality. The structure was supposed to be presented as a sphere higher than 150m with around a stairs base, the exterior is nothing compared to the vision of the inside: an immense globe suspended at the centre that clearly represented the universe and Newton’s discoveries. In addition to that from his drawings it is possible to trail a circle just as the pantheon in Rome.

The Pantheon is constituted by a pure volume, a hemi-sphere from the outside, a circular base of 43 m, and a perfect sphere inscribed in the church. Not to mention the fact that the structure represent at the same time an empty space and a full space, these elements are very similar if not identical to Boullé cenotaph. Another point in common between these two structures and we will see also for Turrell’s crater is the use of natural light, in the cenotaph there is a daylight effect during the night through the globe in the middle of the structure. Still today, guided by Boullè cenotaph, Foster build in Berlin the Reichstag dome where a play of lights during the day and night reflected the one of Boullè. In the pantheon, instead, the sun comes in through the cell, creating an immense patch of intense light in the whole church. As the client Adriano described: “ the church has been build as a sanctuary to the gods, it looks like the globe and the planets. In the centre of the dome there is an opening where you could see the sky, the light and the shadow”.

About light and shadow, James Turrell’crater has many similarities with the last two projects: as the pantheon, the volcano has been modelled as a hemi-sphere and it present a cell, where three different types of lights are supposed to...
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