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The images provided of the Great Mosque at Cordoba

1.a) Examine the images provided of the Great Mosque at Cordoba (and look over some more
images on line on your own). What general, and also specific, aspects of the design of this
building can you cite as typical of design from this particular cultural tradition? In other words,
which society produced it, how is it typical of that society’s design, and why? Be sure to
discuss how it is rooted in the earlier, tribal phase of this society, reflecting a way of life tied to
its unique environment; and then how it represents those typical traits of design as they were
adapted to new uses in the later phase of the society, after it adopted a new faith. Use this work
of design as an example, to illustrate this cultural tradition’s response to its original
environment, and it’s tendencies and interests seen not only in forms of design but in its
stories, and its beliefs. Be specific, with numerous specific examples of traits which tell us
particular things about this cultural tradition and how they are expressed in design.

b) Now talk in a parallel way about how the Borgund Stave Church (see images, seek out some
more) illustrates design tendencies that reflect conditions, a way of life, characteristic cultural
attitudes, interests and beliefs, both from tribal, pagan times, and later after conversion to the
new faith this building serves. For both buildings, start with the usual elements of morphology,
material, imagery, functions, etc., and talk about how they go back to their tribal phase and way
of life in some ways, but reflect an evolution in other ways. Explain what this work (and the
other) tells us on several different levels, in different kinds of ways about this tribal society, in
this specific environment, as it evolved into a true civilization – and the same for the mosque in
1.a), for that society and tradition. You may think of this as a direct comparison of the two
buildings, point by point, if that helps you be very clear in your answers, but you don’t need to.

2. Now look at the examples of illustrated and/or illuminated holy books from the two faiths (the
first two book images go together, same faith tradition, and the second two book images are
from the other cultural / faith tradition). Which pair of images (first two, or second two) are from
Islam and which are Christian? How can you tell, specifically? Connect specific traits and design
phenomena to the information and ideas we have discussed unique to each culture, especially
it’s faith and how it adapted design traits and ideas from earlier cultural tradition to its new needs
and purposes.


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