Collaboration: Bringing Humanity Together Through Architecture

Throughout history there has been a tradition of people coming together to build society. Whether forced labor or a labor of love, the world’s most ambitious projects have been built through collaboration. When you think of Malibu architects collaboration; images of Egyptian Pyramids, Roman Coliseums, and Indian Temples come to mind. These are civilization’s designs of grandeur.

What collaborations in architecture continue to bring community together? Let’s take a look at four architectural marvels throughout the world.

The Sistine Chapel: The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Rome. Ground breaking for this Chapel took place in 1473. The church was completed in 1481; eight years later. It was designed by Baccio Pontelli and constructed by Giovanni de Dolci under orders of Sixtus IV.

The Chapel is based on the temple of Solomon and the dimensions recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. Although exact measurements cannot be made, surveys estimate it to be 40.9 meters (134 ft) long by 13.4 meters (44 ft) wide. The exterior of the building is plain. This was a common practice in Italy when the Chapel was built. The Chapel is three levels; a basement also with vaulted ceilings to support the Chapel, the Chapel, and a third story to house soldiers.

The exterior may be plain, but the interior of the Chapel is spectacular. It boasts of richly colored marble floors, barrel vaulted ceilings, and six arched windows on each side wall. This is just where the story begins. Pope Sixtus the IV commissioned several artists to decorate the Chapel. The collaboration produced 12 large frescoes telling the stories of the Bible. The Chapel’s North side paintings tell about the life of Moses. On the South side they tell the life of Jesus. The artists who collaborated were; Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, Perugino, Cosimo Rosselli, Pinturicchio, Benedetto Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli and Bartolomeo della Gatta.

Then in 1505 Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to paint the ceiling. Although Michelangelo didn’t want to paint the ceiling, he agreed to the request. He began the paintings in 1508 and finished in 1511. The paintings told of the major stories of the Old Testament. In 1537 Pope Paul III ordered Michelangelo to paint another fresco above the alter. Michelangelo chose the subject of The Last Judgement. It was finished in 1541.

Due to the collaboration and incredible decoration of the Sistine Chapel it quickly brought many visitors. Giorgio Vasari, a famous historian of the times said hundreds of people came every day to stare and stare. Today 5 million tourists visit the Sistine Chapel every year, with peaks of around 20,000 visitors per day.

The Taj Mahal: One of the greatest works of collaboration in India is on a mausoleum built between the years of 1631 and 1648. The rest of the buildings, including a mosque, finished 5 years later. It is called Taj Mahal and is labeled one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It holds status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. National Geographic reports that 3 million tourists visit the mausoleum every year. It is located in Agra, a major city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

This monument was built as a tribute to the third wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. His third wife, Mumtaz died in childbirth in 1631. Legend says she bound him to an oath to make her the most beautiful mausoleum ever built. He accomplished this amazing feat by employing thousands of artists and craftsman. They came from India, Persia, Turkey, Syria and other parts of the world. It is estimated that the labor numbered twenty thousand workers. The head architect is thought to be Ustad Ahmad Lahauri But the most known feature, the dome, was designed by Ismail Afandi; a Turkish architect. Other architects who worked on this project included Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan and Makramat Khan.

The dome is the central focus of the entire complex. It is constructed of white marble and is a height of 35 meters (115 ft), the same as the length of the base. The top of the dome is decorated with a lotus design. There are four minarets, very tall towers. Each tower is more than 40 meters (130 ft) tall. The entire complex is symmetric. The only asymmetric point in the complex is where the tombs of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are placed.

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