History of Innovation

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1620: Katsura Imperial Villa

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Innovation: Katsura Imperial Villa
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Year: 1620
By: Kobori Enshu

Kobori Enshu, the architect of the Katsura Palace, rejected the ornate style of previous palaces and hoped to combine architecture with the natural setting of Kyoto. The building is made of a wood timber frame with tile roofs using triangular trusses. This is considered a pivotal piece in Japanese Architecture and stunned the world at the time of its construction. This building was devoid of decoration and had a different motive than previous architecture of the time. It worked to incorporate the surroundings and create a rustic simplicity. [1,2] The Old Shoin, Middle Shoin, and New Palace are each in the Shoin style with irimoya roofs.  Parallels to this building can be observed in modern day contemporary architecture. Bruno Taut, renowned German architect, wrote a book in the early 20th century, which attracted the attention of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Modernist architects began to be influenced by the Katsura Palace and found inspiration within its “minimal and orthogonal design.” [3]

Articles: 1,2,3

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Written by Jennifer Chalos

October 8, 1620 at 6:31 am

1502: Golden Horn Bridge Design

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Innovation: Golden Horn Bridge Design
Location: Istanbul
Year: 1502
By: Leonardo da Vinci

In 1502, Leonardo da Vinci designed a bridge which was to extend across the “Golden Horn” waterway, which separates Europe and Asia, in present day Istanbul. Sultan Bayezid II sought a design to construct the first bridge at the time for the Golden Horn waterway, but rejected Leonardo da Vinci’s design because he worried that the design was not feasible to construct. If the bridge were to be constructed at the time of design, it would have become the longest bridge in the world at 240 m long and 24 m wide. Leonardo proposed to construct the bridge utilizing: the pressed-bow, parabolic curve, and keystone arch. [1] In 2001, a smaller version of the bridge was constructed by contemporary artist, Vebjorn Sand, near Olso, Norway. This marked the first civil engineering project to be constructed based on Leonardo da Vinci’s original sketch. This bridge was produced as part of the Leonardo Bridge Project and was constructed using laminated wood and stainless steel. [2] This illustrates the principal that often times design supersedes society’s ability to engineer the concept until technology becomes available. In this way, both new and ancient technology are combined through the Golden Horn Bridge.

Articles: 1,2,3

Written by Jennifer Chalos

October 5, 1502 at 7:10 pm

1485: Flying Machine Design

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Innovation: Flying Machine Design
Year: 1485
By: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was accredited as an engineer and perhaps the first European interested in a pragmatic solution to flight. Leonardo da Vinci was captivated with flight and extensively studied the flight of birds in order to better his understanding for how flight works. He designed a light hang glider as well as a human powered ornithopter. [1]The ornithopter was to have a wingspan of over 33 feet and was to be constructed of pine covered in raw silk. The pilot would lie face down on the center on a board and would pedal a crank to power the system. The machine also consisted of a hand crank for increased power and a headpiece for steering. [2] Although his designs were not constructed at the time, it created a powerful notion of human-powered flight, which did not previously exist. This concept reemerged over the next four centuries due to Leonardo da Vinci’s original interest and designs. In 2003, a documentary Leonardo’s Dream Machines built and tested the original designs; some of the designs proved successful while others failed. [1]

Articles: 1,2,3

Written by Jennifer Chalos

October 8, 1485 at 2:30 am

1194: Chartres Cathedral

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Innovation: Chartres Cathedral
Location: Chartres, France
Year: 1194

Chartres Cathedral is one of the finest examples of French High Gothic style, exemplifying  tall, slender stone structural systems. Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that peaked in the medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was followed by Renaissance architecture. Gothic architecture is characterized by: pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses. [1] Flying buttresses allowed architects to greatly increase window size. Ribbed vaults were found to be superior because the vault allowed walls to be hollowed out and therefore be filled with windows and also be extended higher than previously possible. The reinforcing ribs allowed the vaults to be much thinner and carry greater weight loads. [2] The cathedral was completed in 1514 and is considered one of the best-preserved churches, which has seen little architectural change since the early 13th century. [3] `

Cathedral Statistics: [3]

  • Length: 130 metres (430 ft)
  • Width: 32 metres (105 ft) / 46 metres (151 ft)
  • Nave: height 37 metres (121 ft); width 16.4 metres (54 ft)
  • Ground area: 10,875 square metres (117,060 sq ft)
  • Height of south-west tower: 105 metres (344 ft)
  • Height of north-west tower: 113 metres (371 ft)
  • 176 stained-glass windows
  • Choir enclosure: 200 statues in 41 scenesArticles: 1,2,3,4

Written by Jennifer Chalos

October 8, 1194 at 5:36 am