Jackson Rothenburg, Julia Sider, Katy Cao, Muhammad Ghaffar

Alhambra Palace

The meaning of each monument must be analyzed within the context of the civilization from which it was created. Cultural, economic, social and other conditions should be understood and connected to demonstrate the meaning and the connection between time and place, and the language of architecture.

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Christina Vo, Jana Stojanovska, Marc Fernandez, Nirav Mistry

Saint Mark's Basilica

The history of architecture is a study of the built environments of humanity in all ages and places. In the broad survey of the ways, means and reasons why humans have shaped their built environments one would look at a number of significant structures which stand as prominent examples of that creative impulse. Each of these monuments, in its own way, in its time and place, stands as a representation of the aspiration, beliefs and values of its creators. Despite the separation in time and culture, we are able to appreciate these built environments and ‘decode’ their meaning as signifiers of their respectful civilizations.

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Amanda Lang, Charissa Medrano, Dea Permana, Erika Arriola

Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantars are astronomical observatories constructed at five sites in west-central India between 1724 and 1735.1  The first observatory was built at Delhi (shown here), followed by Mathura, Ujjain, Varanasi and Jaipur.1  These are open-air sites containing massive masonry instruments, called yantras, that are large enough to make astronomical observations with the naked eye.1

Cultural Context
Astronomy and cosmology were strongly linked to religious and philosophical beliefs in 18th-century India.  It was widely believed that the gods communicated through celestial phenomena such as the movement and position of the stars.2  The accuracy of astronomical observations was deemed crucial as they impacted all aspects of life, from the scheduling of religious rituals and agricultural practices to decisions about marriage, succession or waging war.3
Arts and architectural works at the time were almost exclusively commissioned by the ruling Mughal emperors as expressions of social status. The Jantar Mantars were built to improve decision-making by correcting key astronomical records, such as the Table of Zij, and to create places for cosmological practitioners to gather.5

Design & Construction
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the regional ruler credited with building the Jantar Mantars, was an astronomer, a mathematician, a planner, and a scholar.6  He secured commissions from the Mughal Emperor to build the instruments after uncovering troubling discrepancies in existing astronomical records.6
Although telescopes were available, these massive instruments were favored in order to promote Indian religious and philosophical virtues such as interconnectedness, decentralization, and multiple uses.1  Enabling observers to scan the skies as a whole, orient themselves with particular celestial objects, and deepen their relationship with the universe promoted interconnectedness.1  Instrument design that required minimal training for use and allowed anyone to develop their own powers of observation and analysis served to decentralize access to knowledge.1  Multiple-use was incorporated by ensuring each instrument could be used to take a variety of readings. The construction of the Jantar Mantars was precise, using materials with perfect stability and paying close attention to geometry, location, and latitude.The composition of each instrument was based on the highly-respected Ptolemaic structure of positional astronomy.5  Although relatively unadorned, architectural details such as ogee arches, sandstone, and marble reflected the traditional Mughal style of architecture.4

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Well known for its ‘heart shaped form’, the Misra Yantra utilizes five instruments that work
together to identify the longest and shortest days of the year. It is also capable of indicating noon
in various locations, regardless of their distance from the Dehli site.1  It is the only instrument
that was not constructed by Jai Singh II, but by his son after his passing.1

Also known as the “Supreme Instrument,” the Samrat Yantra is a large equinoctial sundial. It measures time precisely to an accuracy of two seconds.1  It is approximately 70 ft. high and 10 ft.thick with a triangle-shaped body called the gnomon in the centre.1  On a sunny day when the sun passes, the shadow cast by the gnomon falls onto the scale of the quadrants which indicates the time in hours, minutes, and seconds.1  The one in Jaipur is considered the world’s largest sundial.1

The Jai Prakash Yantra is two hollowed out hemispheres with different markings on the interior surface.1 Each bowl shape has a crosswire and sighting plate across the top which allows the observer to make observations from below the instrument.1 It can also provide the coordinates of celestial objects in the sky.1

The Rama Yantra consists of two large cylindrical structures that measure the altitude of the stars and planets and the azimuth (the angle between North around the observer’s horizon and a celestial body).1

1.  Mukherji, Anisha Shekhar. "Time and Space in the Jantar Mantars." In Celestial Mirror: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh II, by Perlus Barry, Ix-Xviii. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2020. Accessed February 23, 2021. doi:10.2307/j.ctv12fw7
2.  Vellu, Iswen. Jantar Mantar: The Science of Indian Conjecture. www.tracyanddale.50megs.com/India/Rajasthan/HTML/Jantar%20Mantar.pdf.
3.  The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh. www.jantarmantar.org.
4.  Blair, Sheila S., Jonathan M. Bloom, and R. Nath. "Mughal family." Grove Art Online. 2003; Accessed 21 Feb. 2021. https://www.oxfordartonline.com/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000060146.
5.  UNESCO. “Nomination of The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur for Inclusion on World Heritage List.” 2010, https://whc.unesco.org/uploads/nominations/1338.pdf. Accessed 18 February 2021.
6.  The British Museum. n.d. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG110197.
7.  Sherring, Matthew Atmore. 1868. The Sacred City of the Hindus: An Account of Benares in Ancient and Modern Times. Varanasi: Trübner & Company. https://books.google.ca/books?id=HlQOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA134&lpg=PA134&dq=%22of+stone+and+lime+of+perfect+stability,+with+attention+to+the+rules+of+geometry+and+adjustment+to+the+meridian+and+to+the+latitude+of+the+place%22&source=bl&ots=tA5_dkrFpb&sig=ACfU3U0S.
8.  Winzer, A. 2005. File:Jantar Mantar Delhi 27-05-2005.jpg. June 12. Accessed March 27, 2021. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jantar_Mantar_Delhi_27-05-2005.jpg.

Toronto Metropolitan Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.