Even two buildings with a similar purpose two country houses, for example can take radically different forms because their owners and architects had different priorities. Some houses, such as Palladio’s villas, have a compact, symmetrical form focused on a central feature a portico or a dome perhaps. Although houses like this can be grand and formal, they are also self-contained, occupy relatively modest sites, and were designed to accommodate just a small number of people. There are, however, country houses that take a very different form vast, sprawling buildings that extend for thousands of feet, incorporating service wings, courtyards, gatehouses, and other elements. This kind of house the Palace of Versailles outside Paris is a famous example has long and complex fagades, and entrance courtyards that spread out over a huge area. These different approaches suggest contrasting ways of living a cultured country retreat in the case of the villa, a lifestyle on the most lavish scale at Versailles, with a sizable household and staff.
The villa looks out over the landscape; the palace, however, seems to take over and colonize the landscape with its all-embracing form.
FORM AND FAITH
Religious buildings show similar contrasts of form. Mosques often combine a spacious prayer hall, sometimes roofed with a dome, with one or more slender minarets; a major mosque may also have a courtyard leading to various other rooms and buildings. Many Christian churches, especially large cathedrals and abbeys, combine upward-pointing spires, turrets, and pinnacles with a layout that places an emphasis on length. Buildings associated with eastern religions, such as Buddhist shrines, are usually more centralized structures and, although they may rise to a point, they do not have the tall, slender, spires of Gothic cathedrals. The form of different kinds of religious structures has evolved from the way they were used. A mosque needs to accommodate a group of people at prayer and to provide a place from which the call to prayer is made. A cathedral, with its spires and grand west
STUPA AND SPIRE The terraces of the Buddhist stupa at Borobodur (above) rise up and narrow toward the center. By contrast, Christian churches, such as Chartres (right) have spires at one end to emphasize the building’s height front, directs the visitor’s gaze up toward heaven but also points the way to the front door and the cavernous processional spaces inside. A Buddhist shrine or temple, on the other hand, might consist of a series of shallow terraces that symbolize the journey toward enlightenment. As pilgrims ascend on foot, they look at the carvings of the Buddha and meditate on his teachings.