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Architecture history exam - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Architectural Body Relationships in Athens and Islamic Cities The differences between the architecture of Athens and Islamic cities are stark, especially with regards to representations of the human body. Whereas most buildings in Islamic cities were built with the protection of privacy between men and women in mind, the opposite was true in Athens where being naked in public was seen as a sign of civilization…
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Download file to see previous pages One of the reasons for these differences was religion, in which the Athenians had pagan religions that were not prohibitive on gender relations. Therefore, architects were not held to religious standards during construction and saw exposure of men and women nude even in their private quarters as a sign of civilization, unlike Islamic cities in which architects had to adhere to strict religious requirements on gender segregation and privacy. In Islamic cities, the creation of turf for men and women was one of the most important elements during design and construction. Rather than these turfs establishing distinctive regions of physicality; however, they were meant to insulate the genders by increasing line-of-sight distance (Abu-Lughod 162). This necessitated the height of nearby buildings and window placement in such a way that protected the visual privacy of neighbors. This was meant to prevent men from seeing women in their privacy, although it did not prevent women from seeing men in their privacy. The architecture of Islamic cities in this way was different to that in Athens. For example, the Parthenon in Athens contained various open floors that contained many offices in which both genders could attend, as well as a spacious hall designed for transactions with the public without any form of overt gender segregation. While there was some segregation, this was only physical in nature and not visual. In addition, the use of columns, rather than solid walls ensured that both genders could see one another in their privacy (Tournikiotis 43). In addition, the agora that was located at the top of the hill was mainly made of terracing that allowed citizens to sit and watch presentations but did not limit the line-of-sight in any way, being visible from all part of the city. Away from public spaces, the dwelling areas in Islamic cities were also segregated into private and public space. This was meant to ensure that men could move around the residential area without interfering with women’s activities and movements. For example, most houses had wings for men on the first floor that accessed the garden and balconies on the ground floor and these wings contained the sleeping quarters for the house-head and sitting rooms (Abu-Lughod 163). However, the women were housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors for receiving guests and living quarters. In Athens, women were also confined to the interior parts of the house. However, when it came to a space like the Parthenon, the democratic spaces were created to be viewed from all parts of the city, while the agora was designed in a way that exposed voting individuals to everyone. The main difference between these spaces in Athens and Islamic cities was that men were allowed to walk naked in Athens, although, just as in Islamic cities, women were expected to be clothed with dignity (Tournikiotis 33). Walking naked for Athenian men in their houses, which were exposed, was meant to be a way of affirming their masculinity and showing them, as good lovers. Another obvious sign of sexual segregation in Islamic cities was the public bath sign that indicates the day ladies’ are meant to take a bath. Other signs show subtler governance of space and time. In addition, women from poor families who could not afford top duplicate space were protected from ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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