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What It Means for Architecture to Be Sensitive and Appropriate for Its Site

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Firstly, the Architecture needs to have a sense of belonging as discussed in the previous essay question, “how can architecture create a sense of belonging. This essay is the inverse of the last question, how can architecture be sensitive and appropriate for its site, how can the architect design a space under the influence of the site in order to unify the building and environment?

There are many factors that can be considered as important. I will be discussing some relevant factors that define and exaggerate the sensitivity of a site such as materiality, religion/ spirituality, environment and a cultural approach. It is all dependent on whether the client wants the building to correspond with the surrounding environment or not. My first example is traditional architecture, South African traditional architecture.

The most common design is the rondavel house/hut mostly used by the Zulu, Ndebele, Xhosa and Tswana people but the huts are commonly known to be used by traditional healers (sangoma’s). In some rural areas in KZN houses behind the main house where the normal day to day activities are performed is the rondavel, plain and plastered and this is the Zulu tradition where as you find them front of the main house with the Ndebele tradition. The Ndebele traditional huts are a tourist attraction in SA because of their exquisite patterns and vibrant colors. Regardless of the placement and orientation of the rondavel in SA the use seems to be the common throughout the different cultures. It is used for traditional ceremonies within the household hence why the use of the hut is mostly identified with the traditional healers.

As the country is developing traditional architecture is fading and people have certain parts in their modern homes dedicated to their traditional and spiritual beliefs. The materials used for the huts are prominent because they are natural resources which tie in the surrounding site. If other materials that are more modern were used, the relationship between the rondavels natural materials and the site would not correspond.

Religious buildings in architecture have some level of sensitivity especially when the site is considered as holy or historical. Christian architecture has many astounding buildings even though it is very easy to differentiate the type of Christian church it is like the normal evangelical protestant church and the Catholic Church.

The protestant churches have simple designs on the outside and the inside, the focal point of the protestant architecture is the interior, but it is still as straight forward. Drawn images of the stages On the other had with catholic churches it is the total opposite, catholic churches are huge in scale have exquisite interior designs with voids and vaults with the use of handcrafted masonry and alters. Another way to view churches in correspondence with architecture is that the buildings material and interior detailing gives one an idea of what happens when it is in use, Catholics are practical with many rituals and that is communicated through the designs of the church. Protestant has less rituals and do not focus too much on the practicality of the religion but rather the spirituality. Regardless of the type of church it is the orientation is the same the congregation faces the pulpit/stage, with this religion the orientation is not a main factor or does not have a sacred reason to as why they face the pulpit like the Islamic religion. Every mosque must face the direction of the great mosque of Mecca. The great mosque surrounds the qibla also known as “the house pf God” and the site of Mecca is religiously known to be very holy by the followers. The materiality is another important factor most mosques are decorated and finished with luxurious materials such as gold and marble stone.

Building on a historical site, memorial architecture

Memorial architecture can also be considered as an example of architects being influenced by the site to design. Site where historical events occurred are important and require a lot of attention and detailing. in South Africa, Soweto is a famous township known for the historical events that occurred during ht apartheid era, especially in Orlando. Orlando is important to most black South Africans, it was the site where events that were resistant against the apartheid system were held and the most significant was the Soweto uprising. The Hector Pietrson museum is a good example of South African memorial architecture built to commemorate the lives that were lost on June 16th. The designers Mashabane rose architects paid close attention to the museums surroundings and the events that had occurred and interpreted it through the building. The site has normal houses built from red clay bricks, the housing units were repeated throughout the whole Orlando township the same material is used on the exterior and interior of the museum, this kind of ties the outside into the interior and it also represents the museum as one of the many repeated housing units. The use of black polished metal on the interior of the museum represents the harsh weapons that were used against the students during the uprising.

The legacy museum in America, Montgomery has the exact same function as the Hector Pieterson museum it commemorates the lives that were lost due to the lynching. The museum is not closed off with your normal interior and exterior, but it is an open-air structure, more like a shelter. Hanging from the open-air roof are 6-foot tall steel slabs that has names of the victims engraved on them. the height that the steel slabs are placed allows you to walk underneath them, so they overpower you, they are also dull in color to mimic shadows and portray the ugly truth. Outside the museum there are columns being filled with soil from where the killings have happened and this process will have a healing effect on the nation – so believes MASS Design group architect Michael Murphy.

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What It Means for Architecture to Be Sensitive and Appropriate for Its Site. (2020, July 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from
“What It Means for Architecture to Be Sensitive and Appropriate for Its Site.” GradesFixer, 14 Jul. 2020,
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