The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.
W61 N617 Mequon Ave, Cedarburg, WI 53012 | p: 262.377.6039
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June 13, 2012

Echoes

Windows and shutters, Rome, Italy. Photo by Tom Kubala, 1972.

“When echoes are present, the various smaller elements and centers, from which the larger centers are made, are all members of the same family; they contain echoes of one another; there are deep internal similarities between them which tie them together to form a single unity.”  

Christopher Alexander, p. 218, Book One, The Nature of Order

“The more interesting cases arise when we can feel or sense a general family resemblance among a group of motifs-but the family resemblance caused by angles are deeper, and we cannot really say so easily quite why they all feel similar.”

Christopher Alexander, p. 220, Book One, The Nature of Order

Buildings, I believe, are fluid and dynamic creations, their life ebbing and flowing as the environment around them moves, shifts and changes. Part of that changing world is the movement of the sun.

I happened to be there when the sun raked across this Roman facade. An already beautiful building, it appeared to take a deep breath, open its eyes and begin pulsing with life. Much of the heavy lifting for this buoyant feeling was taken up by the work of Echoes. The sun had moved to a position where its grazing angle produced a high number of similarly formed shadow shapes, all at the same angle. Protruding architectural elements; shutters, brackets, scrolls, feet and keystone heads were amplified when contrasted with shaded walls. The entire facade flickered then instantly fused together. As this building shows, the sun has the power to dramatically increase the echo intensity of a structure, but only if it is “shadow-ready”. This is one of the many reasons why we always test our designs with sunlight simulations.

As a watercolorist, I am always on the lookout for these shadow shapes. I have found that a building, not putting itself in a position to produce great shadows, is easily forgotten.

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