THE PLAN-NET AS A GEOMETRY FOR ANALYSIS OF PRE-MODERN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND LAYOUT

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Date
2013-12
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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
Abstract
Limited Pre-Modern calculating skills favored geometry for design and layout. Technical limitations precluding durable, detailed measured drawings favored sequentially proportional steps transmitting information from design to construction. The Ancient Egyptian phrase "Casting the plan-net on the ground" implies a rectilinear network of geometrical lines serving to locate plan elements on the ground. Reconstruction of Polykleitos' Kanon demonstrates design parameters based on sequential proportionality that extracts a "correctly" proportioned human figure from an original square base figure. Fifteenth century booklets describe extraction of a completed architectural form from the base figure. Iconographic sources trace these Ancient World methods from their use in practical implementation to symbolization as eighteenth century remembrances in Free Mason paraphernalia. To associate floor plan elements with a rectilinear network, plan-net geometry manipulates proportional relationships of squares and rectangles in sequentially proportional steps. Geometrical design steps by divider and straightedge are identical to ground-lines steps by cord and peg, eliminating calculation from scale change. Marking plan features by plan-net analysis reveals an inherent geometrical unity that appears to cross diachronic and synchronic borders. Varied plan-net patterns offer a new perspective for classifying vernacular floor plans. Conformance to plan-net lines by indeterminate architectural elements validates elements in question and suggests other elements missing from the architectural or archeological record. Seeking to understand how a house is thought as Henry Glassie said, and if culture is pattern in the mind, then plan-net analysis renders such pattern visible, to be understood as a unity crossing boundaries of culture and time but whose products can be differentiated as artifacts localized within cultural and temporal boundaries. To understand what has disappeared from the record, we must be willing to imagine what was, and then test what is imagined to ascertain how it fits to what is.
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Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2013
Keywords
architectural design, architectural geometry, material culture, vernacular architecture
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Doctoral Dissertation