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Sound and Sensory Spaces in British Neolithic Burial Monuments

CC2: Illustrated Essay
Explore how sound has been used to create ‘sensory spaces’ in British Neo
lithic burial monuments
Explore how sound has been used to create ‘sensory spaces’ in British Neolithic burial monuments.
The Neolithic era is the late part of the stone age, ranging from 4000-2500 BCE. It is at this time, that hunter-gatherer communities began settling down and adopting farming as a means of sustenance. It is believed that this shift begun by means of a large group of people moving across the channel and adopt life in Britain. Throughout this period, a number of different burial monuments and practices emerged from across the British Isles, some of which are:
Stone circles
Chambered cairns
Court cairns
Portal tombs
Wedge tombs
These are all known as megalithic monuments, derived from the Greek words megas meaning large and lithos meaning stone. Such monuments are comprised of large blocks of stone but are articulated differently according to location. This is because burial practices and rituals will differ from region to region. In this essay I will be looking at the passage graves of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands and will explore the acoustic properties of Camster Round, a chambered cairn in the Orkney Islands that was built approximately 5000 years ago.
Camster Round is an ideal choice for such experiments as it was renovated in the 1960s using material derived from the site and has retained its integrity. A glass roof plate was added during renovations but was not considered a serious impact on acoustic tests as such minor architectural details only have negligible effects on the behaviour of sound. This site was also chosen because tombs with enclosed chambers create the most dramatic acoustic effects.
Burial practices vary throughout the Neolithic and parts of two skeletons were found at Camster round, the bodies were dis-articulated, meaning that they were incomplete, and were likely exposed before burial in a process known as excarnation. Rituals would have also taken place within the chamber, this would have been almost certainly conducted by a shaman on key dates throughout the agricultural and solar year. Much is the same for other monuments of the period. For example, at Newgrange passage grave in Ireland, on December 21st light shines down the passage in to the chamber for just a few minutes, illuminating a space that is otherwise shrouded in darkness for the year. This is not a coincidence; the orientation of the monument reflects that the builders had a great understanding of solar angle and the Earth’s position around the sun. This date is important as it is the turning point in the year where the days begin getting longer, and that the new growth of spring is fast approaching. Rituals would have taken place at this time to honour the passing of community members throughout the year and bury the dead. Also, to give thanks to the ancestors for Autumn’s harvest.
Camster round consist of a stone chamber that is enclosed by a cairn of boulders. The entrance is through a narrow passageway. The first 6m of the passageway is claustrophobic, being only 0.5m wide and 1m high. It is circular in plan with a central chamber, on the Eastern side of the cairn is a forecourt. The passage broadens in to an antechamber, from which the main chamber is accessed through a narrow portal. Dry stone corbelling rises 3m above the ground surface and is sealed by a large roof slab.
Figure 1: Camster Round from the exterior showing the entrance and forecourt. Photograph from
Figure 2: A plan and elevation of Camster Round showing the extent of the cairn and details of the chamber and passage. From Davidson

Are Architectural Manifestos Important?

Do you think that Architectural Manifestos are useful
tools for Architecture? Why or why not? Be specific.
Architectural manifestos are public declarations that are created in order to have a specific intention
and opinion about a certain issue within architecture, that the writer wants to tackle. Manifestos can
be seen useful or not useful by, specific audiences and the topics they cover. In exploring this
question, I would like to compare between manifestos written by architects exploring: Classical
Architecture, Modernism, Post-Modernism and Futurism. Through comparing between these
differing manifestos, I hope to become aware to the effectiveness of each one and how they
affected the style of architecture at a specific period. Some believe that architecture cannot be
made without organizing people to help make it, as it is thought that the birth of architecture
mirrors the birth of organized societies. Therefore architecture, politics and civilization are all
extremely intimately connected. Written manifestos can be defined by the writing style and political
view that takes place within some manifestos. A manifesto isn’t distinguished by the length, it is
distinguished between other writing styles by the language, grammar and punctuation used, thus I
will explore the particular ways each manifesto is written and find what distinguishes them from
other forms of writing.
Andrea Palladio inspired the European style of Palladian architecture in the early 14th century. In
Palladio’s book ‘The Four Books of Architecture’, he discusses a specific way in which to build and use
the materials in order to create a strong and solid building or structure. Palladio states that the
strength and duration of a structure depends on its “walls [being] thicker below than above” [1] which
will make the walls be “carried directly upright” [2]. Additionally, he declares that all “the upper
columns [be] directly perpendicular to the those that are underneath” [3] and all “openings of doors
and windows be one on top of the other” [4], as then “the solid is on top of the solid… and void on top
of the void” [5], showing architect how to build a structure through his ‘correct’ way to do so. To my
knowledge and understanding Palladio’s manifesto involves the declaration of the style and way in
which he believes structures should be built, but this is done in a long and less effective way then
the more recent manifestos that I will explore.
Although Andrea Palladio was inspired by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio’s work on classical architecture
and how he tends to gloss over much contemporary variation in architectural form and his view of
the Greek history that he bases his modes of architecture on. Vitruvius’ book, ‘The 10 Books on
Architecture’ encapsulates in book IV the three modes of architecture that present part of his
manifesto. The first mode was invented by Dorus, ruler of Achaia and Peloponnesus, he built several
temples which were then copied by Athenians following further expansion. As the builders were
unsure of the proportions used by Dorus, they turned to the form of the herculean male was foot
was supposed to be one sixth of his height. Therefore, the Doric column was created to be in height
six times the width of the column at its base. Thus, the figurative idea of the human form derives
from here and was then further created to make the Ionic and Corinthian column; which were the
classical order of columns in Ancient Greek Architecture. Vitruvius believed that architects focus
ought to be around the three themes when designing any structure; firmitas (strength), utiitas
(functionality), and venustas (beauty). Many abided by these three themes in Ancient Greece, this
was what his manifesto was mainly based on at the start of his 10 books.
A manifesto by a famous architect may be read by anyone studying or exploring the relationship
between politics and architecture. Manifestos are believed to be created to distinguish between the
different eras within architecture and how they changed through the political background of the
writing architect or through the change in style of building. Architectural manifestos can be the
length of 10 books, as Vitruvius’ manifesto is, or as short as one book that goes into enough detail.
Palladio’s and Vitruvius’ manifestos differ in many ways, although one is based on the other, both
people have had different defining experiences that they believe in and differing inspiration,
including the background of architectural knowledge of both architects. This is shown through the
differing themes in which their manifestos are both focused on. As Vitruvius has three main themes
of architecture while Palladio’s architecture was thought to be “governed by reason and by the
principles of classical antiquity” [6], which the principles are based of Vitruvius’ theories so do stand for
similar reasoning but were developed by Palladio in the latter 16th century. Therefore, it is believed
that their manifestos had an interconnecting link between architectural writing and politics, while
some other manifestos might have a weaker link between the two.
Nevertheless, although Andrea Palladio was originally inspired by Vitruvius, his architectural
platform was specifically surrounding the laws of symmetry, the use of pediments and proportions,
which a few centuries later were rivalled by the Gothic form of architecture. As Augustus Pugin
believed it to be unsuitable for Anglican and Anglo-Catholic worship structures. Alas, Le Corbusier’s
modernism became widely recognized by architects a few centuries later. Conflicting with classical
architecture, Le Corbusier’s minimalistic architecture became popular among architects as a new
approach to creating structures.
Le Corbusier was an influential key role in the modernization of urbanism. As mentioned by
Frederick Etchells in the introduction of Le Corbusier’s book ‘Towards A New Architecture’, Etchells
mentions that the book may “annoy” [7] people, as Le Corbusier isn’t many peoples favourite due to
his manifesto of architecture. Although the book is said to “certainly stimulate” [8] as it is a significant
influence on the modern understanding and study of architecture. Le Corbusier’s ‘guiding principles’
of a new architecture discuss “the two things that march together” [9]; the engineer and the architect.
The engineer is thought to be an individual inspired by the “law of economy and governed by
mathematical calculation” [10], while the architect builds a structure that is dependent on the feelings
of the person as then it creates a relationship that echoes within the person, as Le Corbusier states
“in accordance with…heart and our understanding” [11], implying that only one this connection is made
then the architect has fulfilled their purpose and abided by Le Corbusier’s principles.
Additionally, he talks of “three reminders to architects” [12]; mass, surface and plan, which some would
say are the underlying basis of what his architecture is built upon. Le Corbusier’s manifesto that
starts in the first chapter of his book, titled ‘argument’, he brings about some of the key arguments
of modernist architecture and his beliefs within constructing and building. These arguments are
mainly bought about in short and straight to the point sentences, such as; “the ‘styles’ are a lie” [13],
“the necessity for order” [14] and “the plan is the generator” [15]. These key arguments that Le Corbusier believes in connect architecture to politics and to his beliefs of what people should believe in,
according to him. In this first chapter, there are headings to each ‘argument’, that are short
paragraphs explaining his exact views on each matter. For example, the last sentence within the
paragraph headed ‘plan’ states that “modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan,
both for the house and for the city” [16], encapsulating his views on architecture but again, on politics
too. Thus, making Le Corbusier’s manifesto a useful tool for architecture and for people who are
interested and read about the topics, as it can help define the different expectations and needs of
each architect within architectural manifestos.
Robert Venturi’s ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ gives us a ‘gentle manifesto’
explaining to the readers that the “increasing dimension and scale of architecture in urban and
regional planning add[s] to the difficulties” [17] that were not around in the previously simple single
buildings. In Venturi’s book he talks of the contradictory levels of the “both-and” [18] phenomenon
within architecture. Venturi criticises Le Corbusier’s Shodhan House and Villa Savoye which both
imply the “both-and”; as both structures are opened and closed in their architectural curtain. Having
the both rather than, “either-or” [19], implies the way in which Venturi is trying to teach and explain to
architects how to build structures; without the contradictory and complexity within architecture,
within the post-modernist era. Through his manifesto about the contradictions of how “even flowing
spaces [have] implied being outside when inside and inside when outside, rather than both at the
same time” [20], showing that manifestations about the contradiction and complexity are unknown to
architecture that includes “both-and” rather than excluding “either-or”. As Venturi studied in Rome
his primary inspiration came from the urban facades in Italy rather than the “Greeks Temple’s
historical and archetypal” [21] style that Le Corbusier was inspired by. Therefore, Venturi’s conclusions
create an essential antidote to the “cataclysmic purism of contemporary urban renewal” [22] that
nearly ruined many cities. Consequently, presenting to us the need for change between eras
through new manifestos of architects, but also the old manifestos that the new have been
developed from.
However, Le Corbusier and Venturi are mostly different but have a few concepts and places where
they hold similarities that many are unaware too. Venturi’s inspiration of the city facades in Italy and
their complexity of spatial vessels, resemble that of Le Corbusier in their intensely visual and artistic
way of focusing on an individual structure and “not the schematic or two dimensionally diagrammatic view toward which many planners” [23] come to use. In this way they are similar due to
their symbolic attitude towards urbanism. While Vincent Scully, in the introduction of Venturi’s
‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’, mentions the way in which they are “diametrically
opposed” [24] as Venturi holds a more fragmented approach, as his “conclusions are general only by
implication” [25]. Le Corbusier and Venturi were also similar through their irony used in both their
qualifying recommendations. Although Venturi is an easier and more flowing architect, while Le
Corbusier was a sharp and tough character, that mainly united with Venturi only through their
inspiration on Michelangelo. Le Corbusier and Venturi hold similar beliefs of the nature of the world
and its vanishing civilisation, that can be seen by comparing both manifestos. Therefore, manifestos
can create the way in which we compare and contrast to become aware of the similarity’s and
differences of such influential architects that impact us all until today, through their useful
architectural manifestos.
Futuristic architecture came about in the early 20th century but wasn’t so popular or well-known till
the later 20th century. Antonio Sant’Elia who brings about a futurist manifesto of architecture,
inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti; who began futurism, believes that “no architecture has
existed since 1700” [26] as Sant’Elia explains that the modern style is “mask[s]… and skeletons” [27] over
architecture. Sant’Elia describes vigorously his hatred towards the earlier styles within architecture
and their “idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence” [28] especially that of “neoclassicism” [29] as he
believes these architects that created “Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls…” [30]
are all people who continue to “stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should
be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves” [31]. This express his strong feelings of
‘incorrect’ architecture and explains via his manifesto what architecture should not do. Thus,
although this manifesto is strong worded and formatted in paragraphs, combined of short and long
sentences that attack other architects, this manifesto can help bring about the change that futurist
architects wanted to see within our cities. Sant’Elia’s manifesto argues that of Le Corbusier in a
sense that Sant’Elia believes architecture should not be filled by Le Corbusier’s “tradition, style,
aesthetics, proportion…” [32] rather by a futuristic way in “resources of technology and science,
satisfying magisterially all the demands of our habits and spirit” [33]. Therefore, the creation of these
manifestos help to bring about change in an effective manner through writings and studies that argue
with one another.
The futuristic philosophy is that everything should be made of “scientific and technical expertise.
Everything must be revolutionised” [34]. The strong opinionated and argumentative way of writing in
manifestos create an impactful read and can help to bring about change architecture, thus being
useful. But some may argue that we are at a stage where we have so many manifestos from many
influential and not so influential architects. Which brings about the opinion of some, that a large
number of architectural manifestos are not effective or useful tools for architecture, as they don’t
implement change and are not written by influential architects; meaning they don’t change styles of
architecture within a period of time, but they are just there to create a political agenda to
On the other hand, I do believe that manifestos are useful tools for all and any designers to have, as
they are a declaration of the beliefs and views that an architect stands on when planning and
creating structures. This can be seen through all manifestos, every person should have their own
manifesto, whether it be an architect or a politician, all people have the right to share their opinion
and argument in a manifesto whether it becomes useful or not, depends on the person who has
written it and what the intend on doing with their manifesto. An architectural manifesto is useful for
all architects and designers; as each person is unique and different and has different understandings
about architecture, which can then be implemented in their structural, planning or even lecturing
work that one might do in an architectural environment. Architectural manifestos help students
studying in architectural field, to think about what they would change in architecture, what they like
or dislike or even despise like Antonio Sant’Elia.
When comparing and contrasting between the four manifestos I have mentioned above, one can
portray that Le Corbusier’s and Venturi manifestos are similar in the way they are broken down into
paragraphs with subheadings for each and short sentences that are mostly statements. While
Palladio and Sant’Elia’s are different from each other and the rest, they provide a more content
heavy text. Palladio’s manifesto is written in a more formal way in order to suit a specific type of
audience he wanted to reach. Whereas, Sant’Elia had a more informal approach while stronger use
of language and images to accompany his statements and accusations. Manifestos provide us as
readers with a new perspective when exploring architecture and the problems surrounding it.
Therefore, when asked if architectural manifestos are useful tools for architecture, many would
agree as they provide us with an opinion of an expert within the field or with an opinion of an
outsider that is exploring architecture.
Leslie Kanes Weisman includes a ‘Women’s environmental Rights: A manifesto’ as a prologue in a
feminist architecture book. This manifesto discusses the way in which the environment has
oppressed us (women) as “they have conditioned us to an environmental myopia” [35] which then
limits women in the field of architecture. This manifesto is structured similarly to that of Le
Corbusier’s and Venturi in its short and sub-headed paragraphs. In the first paragraph titled
‘Architecture as Icon’, Weisman converses about the way in which architecture was created in the
self-image of men as they are “the decision makers in our society” [36] and as “men have created the
built-environment in their own self-image” [37]. This portrays Weisman’s political views in her
manifesto, helping to bring readers aware of the matter and help bring change about. Weisman also
expresses the way in which skyscrapers are mirroring how men act in our societies, “the big, the
erect, the forceful” [38], this describes the way in which she delivers a message and opinion through her
manifesto. Weisman discusses in her manifesto a way in which to solve this issue which creates a
higher value and usefulness for architectural manifestos, as then they can convey a message that
forces change. She states that architecture reflects on people so a building with new “architectural
language” [39] would help give men and women non-stereotypical roles, as a home and skyscraper do.
Architectural manifestos also discuss the issues within public architecture that can affect our society
and how genders are perceived as weaker or stronger, through the inequality of women carrying or
pushing children in push-chairs in the underground tube stations or buses. In this way she debates
that spaces give people power through the way in which they make a gender weaker or stronger.
Weisman’s architectural manifesto has stronger sense of her conveying her opinion and asking for
changes to be made and equality to be given in architectural spaces. Thus, her architectural
manifesto could seem to be the most important one out of the ones I have discussed as it discusses
a more specific point about a more specific problem in architecture. The form of her manifesto
includes a poem speaking of the way in which women experience inequality within societies
architecture. Lastly, by including this poem she creates a more powerful understanding into her
opinion and the problem women face.
In conclusion, I believe that architectural manifestos are useful tools for architecture as they provide
a declaration and thought behind why and how buildings are built, including any political agendas
behind most buildings. A manifesto is the basis of how we grow opinions and stipulations for our
work within architecture but also within our outside life, for example, the 10 commandments that
Jewish people abide by which are the backbone to Judaism, as such, architectural manifestos
provide architects with background knowledge coming in the field of architecture whether in study
or professionally. A manifesto can provide one with the historical and political background of that
period and why buildings were built in certain ways in different places. Without manifestos,
architecture wouldn’t have developed the way it did from classicalism to futuristic and modern
buildings nowadays. Therefore, I strongly believe that anyone in study or professional aspects of
architecture or design should have an architectural manifesto to help accompany the way they
present and explain their work within their field as this helps create a discussion around architecture
and create better styles of architecture that a more thought through and provocative to the world
outside of architecture. Thus, architectural manifestos are extremely important and useful tools in
Bibliography and References:
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Andrea Palladio, The Four Books of Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Antonio Sant’Elia, A Futurist Manifesto
Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto
Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto
Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto
Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto
Leslie Kanes Weisman, Women’s Environmental Right: A manifesto
Online sources: