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Topic for Debate
 
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
How do you relate to this issue?

Does an architect care for
beauty and aesthetics?
Ershad Mazumder
Responses
 
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Dear Ershad,
Do you really have a doubt about that?
I think all real architects are basically artists, poets, painters, dramatists, musicians, etc., with building "built-environment-design" as there profession!

By the way, where is the office of your journal located? In Kolkata?
P Das
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Ershad,

What exactly is your point behind this question? If it is to suggest that architects are not concerned with aesthetics, then lay out your argument.
Shiraz Allibhai
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Ershad,

Architecture has always been equated with "beauty" or "aesthetics" after all, architects are without any doubt, artistes (to the fullest extent of the word) and our medium are not only buildings or structures, but anything and everything encompassed by the built-environment. What distinguishes us from other artists though, is that our creations serves a purpose; and that brings us to the word "functionality". Thus, beauty and functionality are the cornerstone of the Architect's ideals. We cannot have one without the other, otherwise, our creations cannot be considered as architecture. May I add further, that the Taj Mahal was once described as "poetry caught in stone" by one renowned literary figure. Can you imagine living in a box? Because that is what houses would look like if not for architects, or at least the influence that we exert on the builders and home designers.
Samson de Veyra Molon Mazo
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
If not, beauty and aesthetics do care about architecture.

Even if as an architect you do not, the instinctive taste for beauty and aesthetics in a client, however minimal or uncultured, and tamed, will make sure you address the issue.

Poetry is not necessarily defined as a verse made of words that is not set to music.

If it was, and it stopped there, many a rapper today would not have a lyric. A poem delivers a verse, which when set to music creates a song, which when set up with a theme creates a musical, which when broken with dialogue narrates a drama and a story, which is played out in a set on a stage in a theater.

Here the arts performed come upon the still arts, that create the set, the paints the scultures, and the play of the light and shade, to set the tone for the visual sense. And then the performers dance, enact and convey a message to the world, that is occupying the seats of the theater.

The architect is the person who builds the stage for the play.

But what is a play? A representation of life itself.

The city, the town, its built and unbuilt spaces- they form the world which is your stage and mine.

What I have said above is an adapted version of the statement in the Manasara Shilpa Shastra that states that Architecture is the king of the seven arts: poetry, painting, music, singing, dance, sculpture and drama. (Sorry I dont have the book with me or I would have given you the quotes).

It also states that to be a designer of exceptional quality, one needs to understand all of them. And to be remembered long after you are gone, you must be a master in all the arts, and not just be the master craftsman.
Nirup Jayanth
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Nirup is right, Architecture is considered the highest of the Fine Arts.

And it takes a long time for architects to become master builders. It is a profession for a lifetime, you never really retire or detach yourself from it since you will be constantly searching for that one project that will bring the ultimate pleasure.

Very addictive. Probably worse than opium.

I rather stick to Landscape Architecture, less agony.
Maria Ayub
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
An architect is, really, an artist.
But he must look at some new tools existing in the vast, blue planet.
World is not yet at the end. Stones, why not?

Regards,
Marceano Vasconcelos
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Ershad,

You need to define the words you use: Poetry, Beauty, Aesthetics and Architecture. Not every architect today either cares or even believes in poetry, beauty and aesthetics. In fact, today's architects deliberately create bizarre buildings which catch the eye because they are unaesthetic eyesores.

So to say that a design by an architect is automatically architecture, or that it automatically has poetry, beauty, aesthetics is nonsense.

Architects obtain their licences to design and build not on their ability to create aesthetic designs, but upon their ability to create relatively safe designs, and many architects today hand that role to the engineers and builders.

Modern so-called aesthetic designs which look as though they have partly destroyed by an earthquake or a bomb are both tasteless and unaesthetic.

The kindest thing I can say about such bizarre buildings is they are simply modern follies, designed and built in the same way as the original semi-ruin follies were built as playpens for the immature tastes of the wealthy.
Frank John Snelling
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Sensitive architecture has all other qualities mentioned. All have reflected very much the same; yes, architects do care about all that.
Dushyant Nathwani
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Dushyant,

I agree with you that many architects design architecture which is sensitive to the culture, climate and site; and appeals to the senses.

But, it is not axiomatic that anything designed by a registered architect is either architectural and/or aesthetic.

I feel too much attention is paid to the modern rhetorical and dialectical ideologies which intentionally set out to corrupt and destroy the meaning of poetry, beauty and aesthetics; and not enough attention is paid to actually creating aesthetic architecture.

The idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" has many implications:- (a) that beauty is only in the mind of the viewer. (b) So whatever the viewer says is beautiful, is beautiful. (c) Which means nothing natural or manmade in the real world can be beautiful. (d) So design has no meaning.(e) So anyone can say his or her work is aesthetic, regardless of the fact that the work is good, bad or ugly.

But beauty (and aesthetics) can only have meaning when compared against the that which is bad or ugly. Beauty is a comparative and is therefore neither an abstract nor an absolute.

Beauty gives people pleasure, but living in today's world, this cannot be the complete definition because of the various insanities which either allow or state that pain equals pleasure.

So a better definition would be "sane beauty gives sane people sane pleasure". And a good example of the way in which pleasure has been corrupted to mean pain comes from Victorian Britain. Then it was the practice to wash out the mouth of any child who lied with soap. But there is the story of the boy who lied so often and had his mouth washed out with soap so often that he grew to like the taste of soap. Later, as an adult, he would suck on small pieces of soap as a treat.

Another way of putting the same analogy is that the repeated use of a lie makes something become "true". This technique was used by the Nazi regime in Europe. Today this same technique has been used by rhetorical and dialectical ideologies to corrupt the meaning of aesthetics and beauty until they both become meaningless.
Frank John Snelling
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Frank,

It is always interesting to go through your views.

You see for the last 2-3000 years, there existed what we know today as 'traditional' architecture, like traditional village houses built out of natural materials like earth, stone, wood, etc. With time, people improvised on these materials and technology, and still got around to making buildings that suited the human anthropometrics. European architecture (closer to your home) at that point of time is a good example of building dimensions being researched to suit the human perception and mind. Each element was built and rebuilt over hundreds of years in various buildings with adequate research.

With industrialisation (your point mentioned in some other forum) there was a sudden change of pace of life. The requirement of a calm and quiet home was replaced by 'worker' accommodation and shanties.

With this the research on technologies to make faster construction (not for shanties but for the factories, that is.. :-)) took place. So you had industrial architecture of steel structures, huge in scale and made primarily for the purpose of the production in the factory coming up.
Then there was RCC being popularised by Le-Corbusier, who made many beautiful and many not-so-beautiful structures :-)
(I am being very polite at that, and also I am preparing for rotten tomatoes to be thrown at me by various admirers of other aspects of Le-Corbusier's works)!

Then came the great mall culture from the fabled American dreamland which turned evrything into advertisement. So you had total glass facade (without strengthening in hurricane prone zones :-)) just for advertising your products. Then you had garish colour schemes on these structures. Then you had major technolgy improvement by the Japanese for earthquakes to attend to their growing needs, squeezed up spaces... Well, to top it all, you can find crazy combination of all these in S.E. Asia (good and bad both).

What is happenning now is that the scale of buildings is changing at a very fast pace with technological advancements. Tokyo plans to build the 1km high apartment block. Humans will go as high as water and oxygen can be carried. We'll probably briefly stop there and a lot of research will then happen on how to make these 10km high structures more pleasing, but only for a short while though.

But you will never be able to replace the country homes, the 1-2 storied structures that you can call home.

The solution to this is somewhere else. It is in de-densifying the cities. Architects and engineers are merely helping in responding to today's needs. But is the sociologist or the city administrator or the politician helping in de-densifying the city, which is the root cause?

Sense of aesthetics is also changing. People are absorbing from each other in this age of globalisation, there is bound to be something common around.

4000 years back, the architecture of America (as it was in its original form then), Iran (as it was then), Egypt, India, Indonesia had one very crucial thing in common: the sun angle, its towns, palaces, buildings were oriented keeping that in mind.

Today the architecture from America (of Pepsi and Coke), Europe, Singapore, etc., are beginning to reflect what is called artificial intelligence and computerised response to climate. It is important now.
Chitradeep Sengupta
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Chitradeep, Thank you, your entry says it all apart from one point and so I would like to elaborate on your mention artificial intelligence and computerised response to climate. :)))

Given that computers today can handle both masses of data and complex data. Then yes, we can use computers to "tailor" complex designs to match the particular needs of specific climates, specific environments and specific cultures.

In this way architects and engineers can create sustainable vernacular designs which are tailor-made to suit the culture, the climate and the environment of any place in the world.

Aesthetic architecture gives pleasure because it is appropriate in time and space to the culture, the climate and the environment. Aesthetic design is design which gives pleasure, comfort and dignity to both mind and body.

Strictly functional (mimalist) designs may be adequate for the body, but starve the soul ("Man does not live by bread alone.") of the need for the quality of local differences which give comfort and dignity to cultures.

A functional design does not need to be stripped bare of humanity (aka the specificity of culture) in order to function. This is the ideological mistake which the blinkered advocates of the Internationale Style made.

An architectural design can be both functional and in harmony with the culture, provided the design reflects the way the culture views design and function.

Thus the mistake the International Style advocates made was to assume that "functionality" is exactly the same everywhere in the World. Yes, physics or physical laws are the same, but you cannot apply the same laws to both human physiology and psychology.

Before I turned to architecture as a career I was an Industrial Production Controller whose "function" :) was to produce masses of duplicate products. Such a strictly functional viewpoint is the exact opposite of creating vernacular designs within a culture.

Humans, peoples, cultures are not mass-produced objects from a factory and it is the DIFFERENCES, NOT THE SIMILARITIES between cultures which give meaning to life. Yes, differences between cultures create tensions but these tensions need not be negative.

Imagine a world where everyone thought the same thing at the same time. There would be no original thought and no way of developing or evolving. But because there are differences between human cultures means there is time and space for dynamic movement and change.
Frank John Snelling
Poetry, beauty, aesthetics and architecture
Built or naturally occurring
Spaces leave an impact on human mind

The prestigious virtue of architecture
As one can call it
To control human mind
To evoke particular emotions
To create the dreamt ambience

Architecture as one might call
Construction or building blocks
Is the most poetic of all
Is the most rhythmic

Architecture The word enveloping the world
Defines the aesthetics of its surrounding
Adds beauty to the place of its existence

Architect the beget of architecture
Masters human mind first
Adds composure to space
Aesthetic to place
Beauty to the skyline of city

And hence poetically represents the age long culture
Through his art into the ever-existing architecture
Fatema Kabir
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