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History and Theory 2 - buildings in context - Essay Example

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“HISTORY ARRESTED IN STONE” PALACE OF WESTMINSTER AND BIG BEN Introduction Buildings can be used as a reference to interpret how societies have lived and evolved over a period of time. Their construction can be interpreted as the physical personification of social values of their times, and structures as well as ideas prevalent at that period…
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Download file to see previous pages How are they influenced by the society and how do they respond to social upheavals? The types of architecture reflect the concrete expression of changes in social, cultural, political and economic context over time. As new types are put in place and the existing types are modified, we see a pattern which proves that this is being done to accommodate changing social practices, technologies, political or cultural values. When we emphasize the contextual influence on the architecture of the buildings, we tend to ignore the role played by architect and the style he has adopted in designing the structure. What is important here is to consider the role of individual architect and his broader stylistic movements and also examine the contextual issues that he has taken into consideration for designing a particular structure. These contextual issues have a great impact on the form and meaning of architecture. There is a definite relationship between an architect and the society or the period of history in which they live, design and construct the buildings. The user of the architecture also has a definite role to play in the architecture because buildings are not always used for the purpose for which they are designed. For example a building might have been designed for educational purposes but ultimately may end up being used for recreation activities. The architect who has designed the structure may feel hurt with the findings. Text In this context the Palace of Westminster as a building shall be examined by carrying out study of its form, function, its aesthetic features and uses. We shall also examine the importance of the Big Ben and its location Vis a Vis the Palace of Westminster. Construction of the Palace of Westminster was one of the major accomplishments of the mid- western Victorian period. The palace of Westminster houses the British parliament. It was built as per the design of the architect Charles Barry. The job was entrusted to some of the prominent contractors of the time (middle of the nineteenth century).They used the latest techniques and machinery available at that point of time. Services of skilled craftsmen and several hundred laborers were utilized for construction in a record time (Morton, 2002). The building became a benchmark of excellent construction and is considered a symbol of pride for Britain. The Gothic style used in the design, gives a feeling of the past. It does not have a futuristic look but still it is a symbol of power and glory. As a token of appreciation, the Queen bestowed knighthood to Barry. During the construction of the Palace of Westminster its architect and builder had to face a lot of problems. The cost of the building, which was initially estimated to be 700000 Pounds Sterling, went up to 2 million Pound Sterling! It took close to 30 years to complete the building instead of the original estimated time of 6 years. There were several areas of dispute which came up much before the actual construction took place. These were related to initial design, fees of the architects, estimates, problems with supply of raw material etc. The workers also went on a strike which halted the work for almost thirty weeks. No wonder, the entire project was fraught with problems and difficulties, right from the start to completion of the project. However, the end result was so beautiful that it was admired by all, its users and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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