Adventures in Architecture (2008– )
12 Apr. 2008Beauty
Historian and writer Dan Cruickshank celebrates architecture as a creative force as he explores the world's greatest cities, buildings and monuments. In the first episode, Cruickshank explores how humanity has created beauty through architecture. He travels to Greenland to build an igloo, creating an architectural form that is under threat due to climate change. In China he scales the world's biggest Buddha and deciphers a temple in India rich with erotic images. He visits the Catherine Palace, a hot-blooded baroque masterpiece in the middle of snowy Russia. Finally, ...
11 Sep. 2008Death
Dan Cruickshank visits and explains the relevance of death to several architectural masterpieces: a chapel decorated with human bones in Sedlec, Chzechia; the Mayan temples like Yaxha (now in Guatemala), where the sacrifice of blood, carrier of life force, was central the religion devoted to the natural cycle of life; Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, Europe's largest cemetery; and the complex, central position of tombs in the Ancient culture of Pharaonic Egypt.
Dan Cruickshank visits major works of architectural art which represent paradise on earth, including a hanging Taoist temple in the Chinese mountains where one feels in total harmony with nature, the self-sufficient, secluded orthodox Sinai monastery in the Sinai desert, the Ottoman Suleiman mosque which represents the gates to paradise and the concentric design of the Tamil Hindu holy city Sri Ranganthaswamy, where everything is fitted for the cult practices, both daily and during the great annual festival when the normally well-hidden holiest is shown even to the ...
Dan explores architectural heritage gravely affected by the ravages of war and natural disasters. In Dresden, the 'Florence at the Elbe', a uniquely consistent Baroque city, the 1945 allied air raid laid waste to 75% in order to undermine the German war spirit, in part restored after the German reunification, including the masterpiece Frauenkirche (Our Lady church). Palmyra, a silk route city in the Syrian desert, was destroyed and abandoned after emperor Aurelian's legions repressed a foolish declaration of independence by queen Zenobia, who even invaded neighboring ...
30 Apr. 2008Connections
Dan examines how architecture is designed to bring people together. The 1960 completed new federal capital Brazilia, in Central Brazil, was the largest urbanism continuous project ever, designed by Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer in an attempt to create a new society. The Syrian capital Damascus in the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, still centered on the Roman Age commercial axis. It retains various monuments in consecutive styles, such as Christian churches, Musim mosques, an Ottoman 'chan' (caravan 'serail', i.e. resting station) on the Silk route, adapting to...
Dan visits architectural expressions of power. Ceausescu's Palace of the People was a megalomaniac testimony to the last European Communist dictatorship, for which half of the capital was destroyed so it could have an immense axis-view. After the party's downfall, it ironically houses parliament, the embodiment of a democratic alternative. The 'impregnable' crusader castle of Marqab is an impressive example of mainly military might, built and held by the military order knights. It was part of a series of fortifications designed to stem the Muslim tide of Saladdin's ...
Dan visits places where architecture embodies or evokes dreams or nightmares. The walled city, Shibam, in Yemen, the relatively fertile south of the Arabian peninsula, has the world's oldest high-rise, each tower build and constantly maintained for one family in Ancient-traditional mud bricks. In the Dominican Republic, half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, lies the first Conquistador city. It was founded to embody the dream of a new Spanish empire and is now the capital Santo Domingo, which preserves the vast oldest American cathedral, in Plateresque (inspired ...
21 May 2008Pleasure
Historian and writer Dan Cruickshank celebrates architecture as a creative force as he explores the world's greatest cities, buildings and monuments. Dan explores how architecture gives us pleasure, visiting the luxurious Taj hotel in India, a fantasy castle in Germany, and the hedonist surrounds of an ancient Pompeii brothel. Finally, Dan explores the Villa Barbaro, one of the world's most beautiful country houses where pleasure was deemed to be created by perfect architecture.