Similarities of Two Buildings in Two Different Eras Architects, artists and many other careers often get inspired by one another.
Many modern architectures nowadays have advantages over the architecture in the past because of the advanced technology we have nowadays. However, despite architects having more choices and freedom to design, they still share similar core ideas and possibly apply the same design process or thoughts. Pantheon was a temple designed by the emperor Hadrian and built in 27-25 BC, and yet we could still see the influence of the building in the contemporary architecture. According to the book “Buildings across Time”, Pantheon is considered to be the greatest circular-plan Roman Temple and the most influential building in Western architectural history due to the perfected architecture of Rome at its time. While the Cathedral of Brasilia, a church designed by Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil and built on May 31st, 1970, has similarities to the temple of Pantheon. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, although they are buildings designed in two different eras, both uses form to achieve what they want through their architectural elements. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia were built for religious purpose, however they had different concepts and ideas.
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Pantheon was dedicated to 12 gods of heaven and focused on Augustus’ cult and Romans believed that Romulus ascended to heaven from this spot. The shape of the building used to be rectangular before emperor Hadrian redesigned it. Hadrian made Pantheon as a religious place for all religions during his reign, not only local Romans God because Hadrian traveled so much. He admired Greek and respect other religions. Until Constantinople became their leader, there were too many people who believe in Christianity and he decides to convert Rome to become Christianity to stop the strife between Christians and Romans and the slaughtering of Christians. On the other hand, the Cathedral of Brasilia was intended to be built as a church.
The Cathedral of Brasilia is a Catholic church. Thus, although they are both churches, they were built for and had different concepts and ideas. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia are designed differently through their concept of façade.
Pantheon has a façade and an entrance, which is obviously on the front side on the corinthian columns. This is a very formal and powerful entrance for Pantheon, and it fits the power that Roman empire had before. On the other hand, the Cathedral of Brasilia’s design is about purity from any perspective. One of the most important concept by Neimeyer is the circular structure that prevents the existence of a façade. Even the entrance is also hidden to prevent any façade. Thus, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia’s design and concept of façade are different from one another. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both use columns to symbolize power through their architecture.
Pantheon uses Corinthian columns and Cathedral of Brasilia uses curved concrete columns. Their perspective of power is different since they are from two distinct eras. In the article “Symbolism of Roman Columns”, Edwards says “Unlike the simpler, unadorned Doric columns, Roman Corinthian columns were illustriously sculpted and at times used as victory columns to commemorate success in military campaigns.” Thus, by having Corinthian columns, Pantheon uses the definition of Corinthian columns as their symbol of power. However, nowadays, power has many different definitions. In 1958, president Juscelino Kubitschek wanted the city to become a pillar of development in the north east of Brazil.
When steel structures have been invented during that time, reinforced steel and concrete was already possible, and in this case, any form or shape could be made. Although, works that require more engineering would require much money. In addition, money could also symbolize power. On the research article, The Symbolic Power of Money, they say “One possible implication of this finding is that money provides a feeling of confidence that problems can be solved, and needs can be met, and such confidence, in turn, renders people less likely to care about others’ approval.”. The winner of a design competition, Oscar Niemeyer, had to design a building that could attract people. In this case, the Cathedral of Brasilia use curved concrete columns to attract and show wealth to the public.
In the end, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both uses their architecture to gain power, although they were aiming for different definitions of power. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both tries to design something unique that was never done before to gain power. Rome used every knowledge that they have to build Pantheon. They incorporated post and lintel, arches, and dome.
Although arches had been invented by Sumerians, Rome was credited more because they perfected it. So, they emphasized their invention of dome through their perfected of arches. Before Pantheon was built, there hadn’t been a perfect dome with a sphere shape. According to the article “Pantheon in Rome: The History Behind Its Perfect Ancient Architecture”, Pantheon was the largest dome in the world until Brunelleschi’s dome on the Duomo of Florence was completed in 1436. On the other hand, for the Cathedral of Brasilia, Niemeyer tried to achieve a domelike building in a different way. His inspiration of the building was the shape of Jesus Christ’s crown of thorn and hands of people reaching out the sky.
He incorporated the shape of the crown of thorn to make a dome by taking advantage of the steel and concrete property. Steel and concrete are mutually helping each other and work together very well. “Reinforced concrete is the yin-yang composite of building materials. An ancient Chinese science and philosophy, yin and yang are complementary, interacting forces that form a whole greater than their separate parts. Likewise, concrete and steel are totally different materials, but when combined, they create reinforced concrete, the best composite construction material in the world.
” (McCraven 2013). Steel is a tensile, elastic and strong material, but it has no resistance to fire, water and very vulnerable to corrosion; while concrete has many compressive strength, concrete’s weakness is being not tensile. According to the website National Precast Concrete Association, if concrete and steel are combined, the results would have the advantages of both concrete and steel while losing the weaknesses of both materials. The strengths would be the combination of absolute strength, ductility, fire resistance, water resistance, have low maintenance, long service life, recyclability, design flexibility, thermal efficiency.
This was the reason why the Cathedral of Brasilia can create such structure and shape without having thick walls like Pantheon’s walls. Thus, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both tries to invent a new architecture or a new symbol to gain people’s interest in their designs. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both uses their center system of the dome to create a spiritual feeling. Pantheon’s oculus works as a symbol of God. Since Pantheon’s oculus is fully open, sunlight and rains could easily come into the building. Every season of the year, the sunlight would shine different part of the interior of Pantheon.
So, people would have different experience when they visit Pantheon on different seasons. Also, the rains would get inside building, right on the center of the building. Thus, the rain would symbolize the gift of God. Pantheon creates that spiritual feeling through connecting humans to the nature which is meant to be God’s gift.
On the other hand, the Cathedral of Brasilia, uses the center system of the dome to create a different spiritual feeling. Even though, the center roof is still the main viewing focus of the church, it offers protection from the sun and rain rather than exposing the interior to the nature like what Pantheon has. By offering protection, the center of the dome feels like the safest spot of the building that God provides to us.
In the end, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both uses their center system differently than one another. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both has interior designs to create a spiritual feeling. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia have religious paintings. Pantheon has mostly general pictures of Christianity, while Brasilia focuses on Catholicism since it’s a Catholic church. In Cathedral of Brasilia, there are pictures and a statue of Saint Mary, who Catholic people pray for too.
Having paintings make their visitors know the context of the buildings. Pantheon and the Cathedral of Brasilia, each uses optical illusion to create spirituality. In Pantheon, they take advantage of their walls to create coffers of their thick walls. By having coffers, Pantheon create an optical illusion. According to the article “Optical Illusion”, Optical illusion is guaranteed to make a space of any size seem larger than they are.It emphasizes the height of the dome by showing the depth of each coffer, since it looks smaller the farther it gets. By having the coffers to emphasize the oculus, Pantheon is indeed focusing on the spirituality. While on the Cathedral of Brasilia, the church uses curve to create an optical illusion.
By curving on the columns, Niemeyer makes it as if the whole thing is absorbed to the sky. In the end, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia have some art paintings or statues and some architectural details to create a spiritual feeling. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both uses paintings on the walls or glass as a decoration for different purposes. Pantheon uses mostly kingdom pattern or it does show that it belongs to the past. While the Cathedral of Brasilia uses abstract painting that revolves or absorbs into Jesus Christ statue.
Nowadays, many people don’t even have a religion. Through the decoration on the stained glass, they try remind us the beginning of everything or where the main source of all from. In the end, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia design their paintings differently because of the differences in time and the purposes of the building. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both uses different color to symbolize things they want us to perceive physcologically. Pantheon uses mostly gold, brown, and yellow for the interior.
On the interior, gold is the dominant color. “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be like refuse; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomachs, because it became their stumbling block of iniquity.” (Ezekiel 7:14). From this gospel, we can tell that gold exists in Bible. They want us to think about Pantheon as a treasure.
While the exterior of the building is not even painted anymore. They want to maintain or emphasize the material of the building which is concrete. They also want to show the oldness of this building and making it look so traditional. On the other hand, the Cathedral of Brasilia, uses very contrast set of color. The Cathedral of Brasilia uses mainly white, then green, dark blue and lighter blue/transparent . White symbolizes innocence, purity and honesty.
In Christianity, angels are mostly shown as wearing white clothing and the color of their wings are also white. The white color supports the holiness of this place as a church. The other three colors of the interior are to symbolize the nature. The green symbolizes greenery, trees and vegetable. The darker blue symbolizes the sea or water. While the original color of the stained glass symbolizes the sky, which is always changing.
These green darker blue and the lighter blue that are drawn to be around Jesus’ statue are meant to remind us that he gives and provides us all the essential we need in this word. Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia were built to be bigger than human scale to create a spiritual experience.Pantheon’s height is 142 feet, while the Catheral of Brasilia’s height is 131 feet. In religions, God always creates humans. Through the size of the buildings, it is to emphasize the hierarchy of humans and God. God’s house is meant to be bigger than a regular or human scale houses.
Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia, both has statues that are way bigger than human scale too. The reason why they are bigger is to make humans are not even on the same level as the angels or the God’s helpers. To create that feeling of going into God’s house, the Cathedral of Brasilia and Pantheon’s height are gigantic size although it’s not a high rise building. In the end, Pantheon and Cathedral of Brasilia are two different churches from two different eras that achieve what they want through their architectural elements.
They were built in different eras, thus they have different way of approaching the problems due to the technology that was available. However, They both were designed to achieve power, spirituality, attraction, and new experience to the people.