The Examples of Use of Small Apertures in Architecture

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Architecture no longer serves for just shelter purposes, but it is more about putting detailed spaces, elements, and materials together in a meaningful and significant way. “Details are much more than subordinate elements; they can be regarded as the minimal units of signification in the architectural production of meanings.” An architectural detail, such as an aperture, plays an important role in architecture. Apertures can be used as a tool to help the architect create a space with a specifically intended kind of experience. It creates several effects through casting light and shadows and integrating the space itself with the surrounding environment. The specific use, placement, and size of apertures can give a certain character to architecture and can produce feelings and affect one’s experience in a given space.

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The size and placement of an aperture is important. For example, smaller apertures that are placed higher up in a space can create a completely different effect than one large aperture. These two different kinds of placement and sizes cast different kind of shadows and lighting and give a different character to architecture. The smaller and higher up apertures give a different feeling because they may cast several different kind of shadows and one could argue these openings could have a relationship to the cosmos and the sun, even though one may not be able to view the outside surroundings the sun is still casting its light into the space; whereas one large aperture can give much more lighting and can help blend the architecture with the surrounding nature.

An example of having these smaller kinds of apertures can be found in the Hagia Sophia. “In the enormous timeless hollows of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, rays of sculpted sunlight enter and rotate, animating the passing of time. Duration in light acts as the silent soul of that enormous space.” These apertures located up in the dome give character and life to the architecture in a way; they are intended to help shape the light that is coming in specifically to give it a moving affect throughout the duration of the day, which gives the architecture a lifelike and spiritual feeling. The sunlight shining down into the Hagia Sophia helps give the space a soul and can be related back to the cosmos of the sun and the heavens. The Hagia Sophia is a sacred space and the path of sunlight shining down from the above apertures embodies the sacred meaning of it. These apertures bring unity to the Hagia Sophia; it brings together the architecture, cosmos, and experience. The apertures bring the outside nature and cosmos from above into the architecture itself and connects them both to the people who are engaging with and experiencing the space since the light is also transcending down onto them creating a kind of path connecting them beyond just the surrounding space, but to the sun and its spiritual meaning, which can be interpreted to enforce the distance between god and man.

An example of having different effects and outcomes with one large aperture can be found at an office building at Stockley Park outside of London. This building has a huge skylight that is the same size as the channel of water that is directly in front of it. The skylight is an example of how apertures can link architecture to the surrounding environment and nature. The large opening communicates with the structure of the landscape and nature that is already there by allowing the flow of sunlight into the space and it allows for a specific view and experience as well. “The link between the channel and the skylight represents a cut through the building, but at the same time it also connects horizons of the ground and the first floor.” The specific placement and the dimensions of the aperture are important; the aperture size corresponds to the size of the channel of water which creates a smooth flow between the architecture and the surrounding landscape and nature. The big skylight aperture also gives the office building its own character by having a specific orientation of light reflect on the other elements and materials. This office building uses “the interlocking of light, material, and detail to overtime create a whole cinema of merging and yielding enmeshed experience.” These three elements intertwine together in architecture to create an elevated everyday experience in the building. The large size of the aperture gives the office building a sense of hierarchy and it also serves as a façade. It can even create a sense of euphoria due to the amount of light it allows to fill up the interior space along with the view and intertwining of nature to the architecture.

The architectural detail of having apertures give a number of different significant effects to architecture as shown in the above two examples. Apertures help transform the conditions of nature and the sun into being an important aspect of everyday architecture by contributing to the intended character of a space and affecting the human’s engagement and experience throughout it. Without apertures, architecture would not have a way to express its connection between itself and the people within its space to the outside environment. Apertures give a kind of physical presence and represent the connection between architecture and the many symbolic meanings of the surrounding natural world.

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