The Golden Stain Of Time

1 Aug


The Mark Of Age

When you see the old ruins of a building you may be reminded of it’s journey, of what it might have been or what purpose it served in the course of time. These ruins have stories to tell that adds to it’s charm. In architecture time itself can be the means of achieving certain qualities that can transform the rough angles and calculated forms into an interesting art form.

THERE IS AN ELEMENT OF SURPRISE IN SUCH BUILDINGS WITH A VARIETY TO IT’S SURFACE TEXTURES.

A building like a human body transforms with time but what it transforms into is in the hands of the architect and in the materials he chooses to build. Either he can let his creation age gracefully or preserve it as it was in it’s initial period taking for granted that the owner will maintain it out of his own pocket.

Materials and their transformation

LEAD: Freshly cut lead has a shining metallic surface, which dulls rapidly by oxidation on exposure to the atmosphere.

COPPER: Oxidizes to a brown color. In polluted areas it turns black and in a span of 5-10 yrs a green patina is formed.

TOWER CAP OF OXIDIZED COPPER AT FRAUENKIRCHE

STEEL: When not treated it weathers and forms a rusted texture.

ANGEL OF NORTH BY ANTHONY GORMLEY

STONE: Depending upon the locality it may have either soot deposits or atmospheric deposits usually areas not washed by the rains.

THE STONE-CLAD DEBIJENKORF DEPARTMENT STORE IN ROTTERDAM IS TOTALLY TRANSFORMED BY THESE WEATHERING PATTERNS

Our obsession today with the concept of ‘IMAGE’ has led us to a state of instant gratification. Just as genetic scientists of today devote their research to deferring and even defying the natural process of ageing, materials scientists are also increasingly directing their efforts towards the development of materials that can resist deterioration.

The buildings today are clad with panels of the desired material that can be replaced, re-modeled and re-clad thus rendering it monotonous and predictable.

However, these efforts to defy time are as futile as bringing the dead back to life. Most of the modern buildings are incapable of tolerating wear and tends to deform if not consistently maintained, in the course of time.

Even the early modernist buildings of LE CORBUSIER at PESSAC have badly weathered due to absence of maintenance

BEFORE

AFTER

According to  the famous art critic John Ruskin, buildings that have been, ‘scraped and patched up into smugness and smoothness are more tragic than uttermost ruin’

Rather than to seek eternal youth by enhancing the existing fabric through conservation or restoration, wasting the tax payer’s money, it is best that we let it run it’s course and then when of no use demolish it to make way for something new.

Juxtaposing Of The Old With The New

According to the native Japanese architecture just as the old are revered so too were the effects of ageing on buildings. The weathering of a building is a valued aspect of Japanese aesthetics and is so highlighted by juxtaposing the new with the old.

RYON-JI TEMPLE,KYOTO,JAPAN

In this case the new lines on the gravel are in stark contrast with the old wall of the shrine.

The Japanese sensitivity to the process of a building’s life can also be found in some of Alvar Alto’s works.

THE OLD WORN OUT STONE STEPS STAND AS A CONTRAST TO THE WELL CUT TILES CLADDING THE WALL

THE UNIVERSITY AT HELSINKI -THE GREEN OF THE PRE-PATINATED COPPER CLADDING ON THE ROOF

A significant measure of our enjoyment comes from seeing a time-bound process revealed. We are able to relate to something that transforms with time just as we do.That is the reason why we may find an old ruin more picturesque like an elaborate painting or an interesting photograph.

For John Ruskin a building cannot be considered to be in it’s prime until four or five centuries have passed over it.

According to him “The greatest glory of a building is not in it’s stones ,nor in it’s gold .It’s glory is in it’s age, in the walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity ……It is that GOLDEN STAIN of time ,that we are to look for the real light and color and preciousness of architecture”.

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One Response to “The Golden Stain Of Time”

  1. balagopal August 23, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    Blending the ‘old’ and ‘new’ is all about culture – as in lives, we don’t throw away the aged; same time the aged too learn gracefully to give way and accept the ‘new’. The article has well projected that transition, the pictures truly exemplify the essence of that concept. A well done job.

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