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Few recreations require architecture until they become institutionalized and must provide for both active and passive participation (athletic events, dramatic, musical performances, etc.) or for communal participation in essentially private luxuries (baths, museums, libraries). Throughout history, recreational architecture has been the most consistent in form of any type. Diversions may change, but, as in domestic architecture, the physical makeup of the human being provides consistency. If his participation is passive he must be able to hear and to see in comfort. If his participation is active, he must be given spaces suited to the chosen activity. In most cultures, recreational institutions have their origins in religious rites, but they easily gain independence, and religious expression is reduced or eliminated in their architecture.
Theatres originated in ancient Greece with the rites of the god Dionysus, first as temporary installations and later as outdoor architecture using the natural slope and curves of hillsides to bring the spectator close to the stage and to avoid the need for substructures. The Greek theatre was monumentalized and modified by the Romans, whose arches and vaults allowed construction of sloping seats from level foundations. In the Middle Ages churches and temporary structures were used for dramatic purposes, and in the Renaissance the form of the Roman theatre was occasionally revived (Andrea Palladio's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy). The 17th-century development of opera, drama, and ballet in Europe brought about a revival of theatre building but in a new form conceived to satisfy class and economic distinctions (e.g., the Teatro Farnese in Parma, Italy; Residenztheater, in Munich). A flat or inclined pit accommodated standing patrons, tiers of boxes rose vertically above in a horseshoe plan, and permanent covering (for both acoustics and comfort) made artificial lighting an important feature in theatrical performances. While the modern theatre has been greatly improved in efficiency by new acoustical methods and materials, it also has kept much of the Baroque form. However, it provides seating throughout and usually substitutes sloping galleries (into which the unprivileged have been moved) for boxes. The motion picture has had little effect on theatre design (see THEATRICAL PRODUCTION:History of theatres and staging ).
The auditorium is distinguished by the absence of stage machinery and by its greater size. The development of large symphony orchestras and choirs and of the institution of lectures and mass meetings combined with growing urban populations to produce this modification of the theatre.
Sport arenas, racetracks, and public swimming pools of the present day owe their origin to the ancient Romans (though certain precedents can be found in Crete and Greece). Although the classical tradition of sports was broken from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century, even the design of arenas and tracks has been scarcely altered from the Colosseum and Circus Maximus, though the construction of large grandstands has inspired magnificent designs in reinforced concrete (stadiums at Florence, Helsinki, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). Sports that have no precedents in antiquity, such as baseball, have required modifications in design but have not been important for architecture. (see also Index: sports and games)
Museums and libraries.
Museum and library architecture was also an innovation of classical antiquity (library architecture appears independently in ancient China and Japan). Early examples are found on the acropolis of Hellenistic Pergamum and in Roman Ephesus. Museums were not cultivated in the Middle Ages, and libraries were incorporated into monasteries. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, library construction like Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach's Hofbibliothek in the Hofburg, Vienna, was rare, but important civic buildings were designed within religious institutions (Michelangelo's Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence) and universities (Sir Christopher Wren's Trinity College Library, Cambridge; James Gibbs' Radcliffe Camera, Oxford). This type of architecture became truly communal for the first time in the 19th century, when the size of library collections and the number of visitors inspired some of the finest architecture of the modern period (Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll's Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen; Sir Robert Smirke's British Museum in London; Henri Labrouste's Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris; Alvar Aalto's library in Viipuri, Finland; Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City).
Copyright 1994-1999 Encyclopædia Britannica
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