Anders Brix, architect maa mdd professor


Log of laboratory activities and findings

On scale

I am very interested in the architectural notion of scale, and I have collected observations and thoughts pertaining to this subject for a long time. These ideas are scattered around many of my lectures and slideshows. As I am starting to tidy up slideshows, I have decided to post some of my thoughts on scale here on the blog.

One image I often refer to, is this painting of "St. Jerome in His Study" (c. 1475) by Antonella da Messina. What I see in this painting is not so much the abundant (and very interesting) symbolism in all the details. Rather, it is the spatial continuity through the architectural scales; from books and other small, movable objects, grasped by the hands and lying around on shelves or hanging on a hook on the wall, to the spaces created by the hills and trees belonging to the surrounding landscape.

St. Jerome's study is not an enclosed room, separate from its surroundings. It is a place more than a room. It is as much furniture as architecture, in that it is an object standing on the floor of some greater hall. St. Jerome's study is in the hall, which is in the landscape. His study is a wall (architecture) that is also a bookshelf (furniture). It is a raised floor, which seems to continue seamlessly into his desk and further on into his shelves and wall.

The painting thus reminds us that even though the different architectural scales -- landscape, building, interior, furniture and even objects -- may comprise each some amount of special knowledge, they are not separate categories. They are a continuous whole.