a matter of perspective

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Proskynetarion Project – Part 2

In my previous post, Proskynetarion Project – Part 1, I discussed the background of this project.  Since that time I have completed the design drawings.

The shrine will be constructed entirely from Western Red Cedar.  Its form is simple, two 4×4 posts supporting a 12/12 Cedar shake roof.  The roof sits upon two projecting beams supported by Cedar brackets.  The elevation of the bearing point of the rafters, is set by a 3:5 proportion of the width of the shire.  The bottom horizontal support dimension down from the rafter bearing is a 1:1 proportion to the width of the shrine.

Small_Proskynetarion_Front_ElevationIn plan view you can see the roof projection is not very deep, just enough to provide some protection for the icon from the elements.

Small_Proskynetarion_PlanThe side elevation shows the movable steps that will be located for the smaller children’s use in venerating the shrine.


The section doesn’t provide much additional information, but no matter the project I feel it provides the extra step of thinking it through.  Architectural drawing is an exploratory process as well as an illustrative.


I think the design has turned out well, and I look forward to its construction in the coming weeks.  I plan to take photographs throughout its construction for a later post.

If anyone has any questions or comment please drop a note in the comments below.




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Reawakening: David Rau @ TEDxRVA

David Rau of 3north recently gave an inspiring talk at TEDxRVA.  He discusses his reawakening after visiting Venice, Italy and realizing that the future Venice will look like the Venice of the past.  From this he discusses how we can have a better future for our world if the architecture of the future is more like the architecture of the past.

He discusses 4 cultural shifts, Food and Architecture, Happiness, Genetics, and Life & Architecture

Here are some snippets:

  • “people are in documented fact, happiest in traditional towns”
  • “we are our most authentic selves in the places built like the old parts of town, otherwise our lives are in danger”
  • “something made by hand can be the most efficient form of construction, craft is actually Green”
  • “the more we incorporate things that are handmade into buildings the more green they are”
  • “can an steel frame all glass house sitting in wetlands be considered green?”
  • “maybe the future won’t look futuristic but will look more like the past than you can imagine.”

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Architectural Goobledygook

In architecture school it was pretty clear that when it was time for your critique or salon that you were going to have to brush up on your “archi-speak”.  “Archi-speak” is a special language composed of very important sounding words that are used to make a profound statement that transcends the moment to something more grand.  Granted, to the credit of many of our esteemed jurors, what they had to say did exactly that, but to our infant minds it sounded like goobledygook.

Around that time I came across a guide to help one contribute, by using the “Do-It-Yourself Guide to Architectural Dialogue.”   I recently did a quick google search and came across several copies. I don’t know who is the author to give credit, but it puts a smile on my face everytime I create a new sentence.

Do-It-Yourself Architectural Dialogue

Do-It-Yourself Architectural DialogueAnother source is ArchiText. This is a downloadable app available on iTunes the generates sentences based on this guide, as well as submissions by users.

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Hope for Architecture

I have been following the progress being made on a project called the Hope for Architecture.  This is the work of Clay Chapman, a master builder and designer.  Chapman has 20 years experience in designing and building structural masonry and timber frame structures as single family residences and horse stables.  The Brick in Architecture Award winning Pierce-Lee Residence in Cedartown, Georgia, is in particular, exemplary.

While he has a wonderful catalog of work to his credit, what is truly remarkable is his project he has titled the “hope for architecture”.  Chapman’s experiment is to prove a structure of the quality that could last a century can be built for the cost of a standard tract home, and that it can be sustainable, affordable and energy-efficient.

Chapman recently gave a lecture at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, which gives a great overview of the project.

I have found this to be inspirational, and I look forward to see the outcome of all this work.

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Proskynetarion Project – Part 1

I have been recently working on a small project for the our parish’s religious day school that my son attends, and which I am on the board of education. It is a pair of prayer shrines to be located on the playground.

I first became aware of the archetype when visiting my wife’s family in Greece 10 years ago.  One would find the small shrines everywhere, located in rural areas along the road, or urban areas on street corners or in front of churches.  In Greek, as I understand, this is called a προσκυνητάριον, Proskynetarion, of which the plural is proskynetaria.  The designs vary from a miniature church temple, to small portico in relief with a pediment.

Roadside Proskynetarion


Another Roadside Shrine

Shrine in front of Church

Years later when working with my friend, George Prosiliakos, at Prosi Design Inc. we worked on designing a series of proskynetaria for the walkways in the forests of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center.  We looked at forms that would be in keeping with the regional materials, and the location they were to be installed.  We picked as a material cedar, and worked on several designs that could be built by a carpenter.  We designed simple rustic columns that would be shaped from a cedar 4×4 post.  Each structure had four columns, a 6/12 roof with cedar shakes, and a rear wall for mounting the Icon.

For the project for the day school, the plan is to build two shrines.  A small one and a larger one.  The small version will have a simple form of two columns, a pediment, and extending roof with brackets.  The larger version will have four columns, a roof, and floor.  The plan is to build the small shrine now, and the larger version in the future.

I started out with a series of simple sketches of different concepts, similar to the previous designs.  The design could go toward a more classical form, but in this setting a more rustic approach seems appropriate.

Sketches of ideas for the larger shrine.

Sketches of ideas for the larger shrine.

In the next post, of this series, I will discuss the design for the small proskynetarion and share the drawings of the final design.

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Architecture, it seems, is a matter of perspective.

For an architect perspective has special meaning. It is the view in which the viewer sees one’s built form, but it is also the way in which the architect sees buildings and the world. Often these two perspectives are radically different. It is as if the special “architect glasses” offer a view unseen to the naked eye. Where we studied, who we worked for and how we live our lives shapes this perspective.


My goal in starting a blog, is define my perspective. To write it down and share it with others. And maybe if I have some readers, we can have a dialog as well.

I am not a theorist, so I don’t think this will be heavy, or lengthy, but something I hope some can enjoy.