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History and Origin of Collage:

Collage is an old French word meaning stick and paste down. A collection of
different things is generally referred to as Collage. Collage is a work of art
that is made by attaching different materials together. At first, collage was
originally used after the invention of paper in china around 200B.C
Collage then became a bit more popular in Japan (10th century)
when calligraphers began to apply sticky paper using texts on surfaces while
writing their poems. The collage technique then appeared during the 13

century in medieval Europe, where golden leaf panels were applied in Gothic
cathedrals around the 15th and 16th centuries. Also gemstones and
other precious metals were applied to religious images and icons. The use of
collage in the art medium dates back to the 18th century when the flower artist
Mary Delany invented the paper mosaic which is also known as the plant
collage method which involved cutting out leaves from colored paper then
gluing them back onto black-paper backgrounds. Dadaists and Surrealists of
the 20
century loved collage, specifically torn-paper collage which is a
process where torn pieces of paper are randomly dropped onto a background
sheet covered with glue, which they named as the free-associative art
making. The general idea was to allow the unmitigated emotional and
subconscious expression, and is therefore freed from the tyranny of the
conscious mind in control, interpreting and reading the finished image. A lot of
artists have worked with collage in the past years including Michael Snow,
Kurt Schwitters, Greg Curnoe, Pablo Picasso, Sorel Etrog and Joyce Wieland
all created collage artworks. Some authorities argue that collage did not
emerge until the 1900s, in alliance with the early stages of modernism.
According to the Guggenheim Museum, collage is an artistic concept
associated with the beginning of modernism, and involves much more than
the idea of gluing something on something else. Other forms of collage
different than paper collage exist, including paint collage, wood collage, digital
collage, 3 dimensional collage, and mosaic. Collage also existed in other
contexts including music, illustration, and Architecture.

Application of Collage in Architecture:

Collage = Space + Materials ; Space + Materials = Architecture
Collage = Architecture
When collage is applied in architecture a whole new understanding of the built
space and the way we interact with it opens up. There are two types of
collage, generative collage and constructed collage. Generative collage most
frequently follows the artistic definitions of papers and other materials as
applied to a given canvas (two dimensional). It can generate architectural
thinking. On the other hand constructive collage is examined in terms of
architecture; constructed collages are a result of the application of a collage
mentality, a collage process where the spaces created are experienced and
not just viewed. Constructed collages involve material layering and spatial
layering that creates a collage in the sense of a space rather than in the
sense of an object. Collage in architecture acts as a tool for analysis and
design. Collage provides a medium in architecture that captivates sensory
and spatial perception. As collage has evolved it brings with it a number of
dialectics, including representational/abstract, gestural/precise, texture/image,
surface/depth, and literal/metaphorical, all of which are considered within the
methodologies of art and architecture. Some of the architects that used the
collage technique as an integral part of their design process are Allison and
Peter Smithson, Ray and Charles Eames, and Le Corbusier. They used
collage as a means of representation of their work, (as a computer rendering
of the character of a space). They also considered collage as an equivalent to
the practice of sketching. There are also different types of collages in the
world of architecture, such as, a collage between different architectural styles
from all over the world where architects can make a collage of different styles
in the same house or project they are working on. For example, allowing
traditional and modern architectural styles to coexist in the same time and
place (in the same city, or even in the same building). Also some cities act as
a great example of collage.

Example and Analysis:


I think that Beirut as a whole embodies the meaning of the world collage
since Beirut is a city that witnessed a lot of different cultures that visited its
land for some time in the past (Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine,
Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains). Thats why we can notice a vast
difference in architectural styles in this city. Not to mention that Beirut was
also affected by the contemporary architectural style. Beirut as a whole acts
as a collage of successive architectural styles, a collage that shows the
different cultures that accumulated in Beirut throughout its history. While
wandering on the streets of Beirut people can easily notice this from the
diversity that ranges from different architectural styles used. By analyzing the
urban form in the city of Beirut, which is somehow considered to be
aesthetically successful and examining its actually existing urban structure as
found, reveals Beirut as the end product of a constant process of
fragmentation, collision, superimposition, contamination of many diverse ideas
are forced on it by successive generations, with each generation having its
own idea. This can be noticed due to the presence of numerous mosques,
and churches. So as collage is a collection of different things, and attaching
different materials together to form a new whole, I believe that the collection of
all these cultures and the attachment of their different styles and beliefs in this
city are considered a collage. In a collage the artists use different materials,
colors, and textures in order to create something new that attracts the eye of
the observer but still, if the observer looked closely he could recognize the
different material used that lead to the final outcome. This is the case with
Beirut, where by looking at it as a whole, it appears to be like an ordinary city,
but if we look closely to the elements that form this city (buildings, temples,
churches, mosques etc) we will realize the different styles used and thus
understand that this city is a multicultural city. Thus by just observing it
closely, one could understand the history of this city. Therefore, Beirut acts as
a perfect example of collage.

Collage <--> Architecture by Nicole A. Martin
Collage City by Fred Koetter and Collin Rowe