Monday, April 11, 2011

BP12 - Good Design For All

Paris Opera House (Front Entrance)
During my Reading Response this week I studied the circulation and flow of the Paris Opera House.  What caught me about this building and what brings me to use it also for this Blog Post was how everyone who entered this building was taken into account.  From the royal, to the actors, to even the cheapest seated patron everyone had their place and a part to play in the production of simply going to the show.

Present Day Traffic Flow
From the start each side of the building was designed to accept a certain type of opera/play goer.  The royal entrance was grand with a winding staircase to allow for immediate access to the sitting area without any contact with the common folk.  The front entrance was used for pedestrian traffic, those who walked to the Paris Opera House.  Another side was designated for carriage drop off and reminds me of a public school drop off/pick up point for carpools.  The final entrance is less celebrated and was reserved for only the staff and actors of the Paris Opera House.

Aerial View

City Scape Digital Representation
Even though each of these parts emulates the outside world toward the interior of the Paris Opera House, when that play or opera is going on each person is witness to the same thing.  Granted there will be different perspectives and qualities to how the people view, but the concept is there. Similarly a major part to the use of this structure is not only for the show, but for the social interaction.  Ching states, "The staircase that lies between the entrance narthex and the theater is itself a three-dimensional theater intended to allow opera goes to see and be seen, the encounters themselves constituting an elaborate social ritual." (671)

Grand Staircase "Theater"
And Just for clarification, I am not using the "good design for all" statement as it applies to political correctness, handicap enablement, age definement, or especially social class unification.  This space does not bode well for these aspects within its original usage.  However I use that statement to show how the designer used systems in a way that even for today are hard to deal with sometimes.  I believe Charles Garnier created a perfectly flowing showpiece to display how cultural interactions worked in Paris at the time of its construction.

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  1. Matt, excellent analogy of 'good design for all'. You account for both the natural feel of the structure as each class of people enters in a way that reflects their social standing so it implies a level of comfort that is seen in good design with the social stratification that also separates classes of people which can be seen in a negative light, stating that, if architecture is good for all, why do we have different levels of experiencing it.

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