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How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Is beauty universal or is it the manifestation of architects state of mind? How and who will judge beauty in architecture?
Sabin Shrestha
Responses
 
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sabin,

I am not sure what you mean by manifestation of the architects state of mind, but your question as to the universality of beauty is one that has been posed over and over again through human history. Plato was perhaps the most well-known person to explore the nature of beauty, which he argued was a matter of objectivity and not subjective. Values such as good, beauty and truth remained outside the individual.

Society and mass media judge architecture, its the reason we have star architects, because whether you like their work or not, these stars are in demand as their work is deemed beautiful. Some work has stood the test of time. Others, not so well.
Shiraz Allibhai
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sabin, Beauty exists when all of the elements of a creation are in harmony with one another and therefore form a wavelength somewhere between Chaos and Order, but to be able to percieve the beauty, the person needs to be attuned to that harmonic wavelength

Furthermore, individual perception and cultural pereception have their own wavelengths which may or may not be in harmony with whatever is being viewed.

This is why a person can diagree another person about what is beautiful and even what is beauty, but such disagreement remains subjective and will remain subjective until such time as it is recognised that there are (objective) principles of design and aesthetics and once there is recognition that such principles exist, then they can be taught. :)))
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Thank you both of you for your respones.
Sabin Shrestha
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder.
Linnea Palme
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Linnea does your well known statement imply that a thing can only be beautiful if it has been observed?
Shiraz Allibhai
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
for me i think beauty in architecture does not exist because a project can be good depending on what the observer do like.It can form,color,...
Esdras Nkumbuyabera
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Linnea, Shiraz, RE "Beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder."

I am reminded of the saying something like... "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it fall, does the tree exist?"

Furthermore, Linnea, your statement implies that because the perception of beauty is subjective, the "idea" of beauty itself must also be subjective.

Whereas, given that there are principles for aesthetics and design which transcend both cultural and individual conscious thought, then the conscious but abstract idea of beauty can be objective (provided these unconscious principles have been deduced).

Footnote: And the deduction of the unconscious principles of aesthetics and design is possible, if one remembers that each and every perception of beauty is but an aspect or facet of a crystal, like looking through a kaleidoscope.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
The idea of beauty is culture specific. There is no unified theory of aesthetics or beauty. it comes from deep sub conscious and conditioning.
Sambuddha Sen
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sambuddha, Yes, the idea of beauty is culture specific, because each culture has its own aesthetic wavelength, but given that each culture has its own aesthetic wavelength, then it is possible to deduce the principles of aesthetics which operate directly upon the human psyche and which therefore transcend cultural aesthetics. :)))

Postscript: I first had `an inkling` of this when our art instructor at university (Rose Nag) asked the class to draw without (conscious) thought and afterwards she said what I had drawn looked like something by Kandinsky (who I had not heard of at that time).
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
All ancient cultures have highly evolved aesthetic codes.Ancient Hindu text "Shilpa
Shastra" or"Grammar of Art and Aesthetics"goes on to enumerate 6 indicators of ideal beauty in great detail. These are known as 6 limbs of art and aesthetics. Scholars have noticed close affinity of these rules with the art of China and Japan.
Greek and classical orders are well known. Only in modern times do we find
the rise of personal aesthetic preferences and codification of Eurocenric aesthetic sterotypes.
This particularly noticeable in media and fashion.Tall,Thin,androgynous ,high cheek bone and endless legs define female beauty today. "Personal aesthetics" gives licence to the artist to indulge in self gratification.
Sambuddha Sen
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
we shall see beauty in its original meaning. humans prefer to see the beautiful rather than just impressive. there is a sense of beauty in the beauty, grandeur, that to perfection. buildings invaluable not only of his prowess, we could see the greatness of the production machinery in a factory, but it's not my taste .. was beautiful, but it produces a beautiful product .... magnificent buildings, could not attend to the exclusion of her beauty, beauty is beautiful, impressive, and almost all humans have and acknowledge her beauty ... it's just different criteria ... criteria can be pretty subjective and is made up of local culture.
lasmito Adi
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
It is a vast word.Fresh designs and unique styles are new life into your home as well as your environment.Home interior decoration provides a certain "feel" to the home.
The process of decorating a home in order to make it look good becomes easier to use and gels well with the architecture.
Allan Allan
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sambuddha, Media Fashions are like UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), no one comprehends Media Fashions, but no one dares to comment adversely for fear of appearing `gauche` (unsophisticated), like the Hans Andersen childrens` tale of "The King`s New Clothes" when a lttle boy asks why the King has no clothes on.

In other words, if one applies the notion that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", then it does not matter what the artist does, so long as all of the `sophisticated people` such as art critics say the artwork is great.

Postscript: Personally, I prefer to observe reality as it is and not as others would have us believe.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
there is no great design neither the worst...............its just your point of view..if u got the concept behind u'll find it gr8 but if u wont it seems you a useless piece occupying space only
Onkar Patel
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Onkar, You are not writing about art, architecture or aesthetics, you are writing about the way in which a "modern artist" does not allow the visual senses of other people to appreciate the work, but has to `explain` the concept of his or her work. In other words the "artist" is simply playing mind games to divert attention from both mediocre artworks and a complete lack of aesthetics.

Appropriately enough, just after my last post yesterday, I read an article in The Daily Telegraph ( a UK national newspaper) and I quote the whole text:-

[Headline: The hidden talents of `invisible` artists" "As a feast for the eyes, an art exhibition featuring a bare plinth, a canvas of invisible ink and a hidden labyrinth may leave a little to be desired. But London`s Hayward gallery is confident that the lack of anything to actually see will not deter the artistically minded from paying £8.00 to "view" a new exhibition entirely made up of "invisible art".

Advertising the spectacle - or the absence of one - as something that will "set our imaginations alight", the gallery said it offered the public "plenty to see and experience". The exhibition, `Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957-2012`, feature 50 works, including Andy Warhols `Invisible` - an empty plinth on which he had once briefly stepped. Tom Freidman`s `1,000 Hours of Staring` is a blank piece of paper that he looked at repeatedly over a five year period. `Art isn`t about material objects, it`s about setting our imaginations alight,` said Ralph Rugoff, the Hayward`s director.]

In essence, the problem with "invisible art" is the same problem which affects much of today`s modern artworks, in that there is no conceptual difference between them and a `Rorsucht Ink Blot` Pattern Test. In fact, the only difference is that the amorphous and meaningless shapes of Rorsucht Ink Blot Pattern Tests were designed and used by shrinks to help diagnose human mental problems.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
It is good that the discussion has veered towards general idea of beauty rather than being architecture specific.
Art galleries and establishments are defrauding general public by displaying mediocre and down right inferior works in the garb of "avant garde".How does one explain Damien Hirst's work?
Where art is commodity and investment' what more can be expected?
Society and art deserve each other.
Sambuddha Sen
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Architectural aesthetics have reached a new low with the twisted,tortured forms of buildings which western architects are propagating and remaining world trying to emulate.
Sambuddha Sen
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sambuddha, What is interesting is what Damien Hirst did before he became famous for (a) sawing a domestic animal in half, (b) pickling this object and (c) then showing this object as "an artwork". Because Damien Hirst worked in an abbattoir which is a factory where domestic animals are taken to be killed (humanely) and butchered (cut into pieces) for human consumption.

I am reminded of the "artwork" shown in a top gallery in Britain a decade ago, where a group of three tin cans labelled "Human ****(aka dung)" was shown as the ultimate in human art.

What frequently surprises and saddens me is why some sections of Humanity prefer to proudly display something nasty (to shock and awe?), instead of appreciating the eternal beauty of aesthetic art.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Frank,without sounding pompous we are coming close to the issue at hand. can we we really hope to take our civilisation to a higher plane with the current practice of anything for a shock value and 15 minutes of fame.
Sambuddha Sen
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Sambuddha, In answer to your last post, I doubt if those who choose to shock to have 15 minutes of infamy have any interest in the eternal truths such as aesthetics.

Today, in this era of globalised mass media, the bottom line is that to be known amongst all of the billions of people on the planet and in order to gain fame and fortune you need to be "noticed".

And the easiest way both to be noticed and to gain recognition is to shock people with something rude, crude and disgusting. But the problem is that over time people become de-sensitised (the shock of the new wears off) to these disgusting things and so there is an escalating `arms race` for evermore disgusting things to keep ahead of this feral dog pack and be the `alpha male / female`.

I noticed the above phenomena in the late 1990s when for five years I checked and cut articles and images relating to the arts from a national newspaper.

Eventually I sorted these cuttings into three categories: (a) Good (aesthetic, intentional and unintentional), (b) Bad (intentional, anaesethetic) and (c) Ugly (unintentional, unaesthetic), because in order to understand which images were aesthetic, I needed to understand by comparing against images which were not aesthetic.

Therefore, to arrive at an objective viewpoint upon what is aesthetic it is necessary to compare the data against both the anaesthetic and unaesthetic.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Beauty is something yet to be defined and to be captured in som constraints!
Danish Ben Tariq
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
In architecture and in all other operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well and has to satisfy three conditions; utility, firmness and delight.
Beauty means the appearance of the work is pleasing, in good taste and all its members are in due proportion according to correct principles of symmetry.
Mohammed Ibrahim Abdulrahman
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Architecture is the science and art of constructing a building, science in the sence of conponent that will be used that is cement,etc and also technological know how which comprises the calculation and what ever.While Art deals with the artistic part that is Aesthetic point of view.
Alhaji Usman Jidda
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Mohammed, I agree with you.

However, would you not agree that it is necessary to know the difference between "good design", "bad design" and "ugly design", before one can even begin to design something good?

In other words, given that there are classes in "Art Appreciation" where people are shown works of art by the masters of art. Then in the same way, it should be possible to have classes in "Architecture Appreciation" where people are shown works by the masters of architecture.

However, this is not the end of the story, because just being shown works by masters of art without comparison with bad or ugly "works of art" means that there is no standard by which to judge what is and what is not a good work of art.

For example, if one is shown a series of tables or chairs, designed and made by a master craftsman. One can admire both the aesthetic beauty of the design and the workmanship, but such admiration is without context and therefore subjective, because there are no comparisons made with bad or ugly tables and chairs.

And without context, without comparison, artistic and aesthetic judgement remains subjective and therefore is the toy of professional critics who manipulate fashions of art to keep themselves employed.

For example, a few years ago, the very latest in ultra high fashion clothes design was "Bin-Liner Chic". (Note Bin-liners are the cheap and nasty black plastic bags used to put garbage in.) In other words, world famous fashion models paraded about in bin-liners and bits of garbage and photos of these models dressed in garbage were printed in glossy international fashion magazines.

Furthermore, the idea of dressing up models in garbage and then selling garbage as high fashion is not doubt regarded by fashion art critics as being the cream of the joke, because it implies that those who wear these clothes are themselves garbage.

Therefore, the time has come for Humanity to move on and learn the (objective) principles of aesthetics and design, so that aesthetics becomes a reality and not smoke and mirrors.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
To define the good (aka beauty), one must be able to define the bad and the ugly in order to compare against the good. This is like a three-legged stool, because without the other two legs the stool falls over.

I use these three terms (good, bad and ugly), because given that good can be either intentional or unintentional, then bad is intentional and ugly is unintentional or accidental.

And given that bad is intentional, then bad intentions or bad effects are often preferred to good intentions and good effects, because good intentions are taken for granted and therefore become invisible.

Whereas, bad intentions and bad effects smack you in the face and demand your attention like the uncontrolled tantrums of a spoilt, selfish and ego-centric child.

This is why, if one is to define beauty, then the non-beautiful and the anti-beautiful should be defined at the same time for an objective understanding of aesthetics.

However, today we have the politically correct mantra of "All art (good, bad and ugly) is equally valid" which is in direct contradiction to the most basic human ability of recognising similarities and differences.

In other words, this mantra demands we deny the very ability which makes us humans able to think objectively.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
beauty lies in the eyes of be-holder,in architecture,creater plays with space and place.......beholder evaluates the experiment with light and time.
Dushyant Nathwani
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Dear sabin,Beauty they say lies in the eye of the beholder.so it has to do with perception.However,in architecture,certain universally acceptable parameters mustbe metfor anything to be described as beautiful.So beauty is actually universal.
Oluseyi Abatan
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
If beauty lies in the eye (and therefore within the mind) of the beholder, uglinless and badness must also lie in the eye of the beholder.

I say this because, how does one tell what beauty is and therefore what is beautiful, if there is nothing to compare against?

Therefore, the concept of beauty does not and cannot float in nothingness.

Similarly, the view that "You know what you like, but you don`t know why you like." is another way of saying everyone is subjective and no one is or can ever be objective and therefore art and aesthetics are an unknowable mystery which cannot ever be solved.

Therefore it is okay for everyone to bow down to images of beauty? And then who decides what makes an image of beauty?

Because if the concept of beauty is unknowable and therefore undefinable, then the subjective decision of someone else decides what your subjective viewpoint will be and this never-ending subjective `smoke and mirrors` circle goes around and around endlessly.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Beauty is something which satisfies the mind and pleases the senses.
Asif Ali
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Architectural education has been very damaging as the number of culturally uprooted architects being churned out is much larger and they have homogenized almost all modern cities and towns. Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, is the only city in India that has a distinct architectural character. That is because in Srinagar architects have not had opportunity to practice architecture. Even though the designer has to function in local contexts the design education is out of their real context. Contextually rooted aesthetic sense is what once created the diverse cultures around the globe. The present architecture of Srinagar also points to the fact that ‘un trained’ people have the ability to respond to modern needs with in their cultural frame work, most often unconsciously.
May the conscious and sensitive designers role is to step out and allow this to happen.

From 1985 I have been exploring aesthetics while studying for Design at NID, Ahmedabad, India where we were taught(conditioned)aesthetics based on the bauhuas. Even now almost all over the world this is being done. i have lived with non literates (I call them sense literates)to understand how beauty is formed as there is no formal nor informal teaching. They have been able retain cultural rootedness and hence diversity alive where the so called educated have been homogenized. Please see some of my work/ blog on these matters. modern education creates homogenised aesthetic sense. I just posted some thing on this few minutes back. i conduct a workshop/ retreat called awakening aesthetic awareness in various parts of india. see the blog http://awakeningaestheticawareness.wordpress.com/about/ http://awakeningtheaestheticawareness.blogspot.in/ http://designeducationasia.blogspot.in/ The biggest threat of modernity is homogenization of the human cultures. The visual experience of modern spaces all over the world is beginning to look alike- Architecture, artifacts, life style. About a century ago we had diverse cultures with a distinct way of life which defined our aesthetic sensibilities. The real issue is to understand how culture is formed and how cultural diversity could be retained. Culture is the result of how aesthetic sensibilities of people get manifested in the things they make and how they live, and aesthetic sensibilities were awakened naturally by engaging with their contexts. In modern situation, Education conditions and homogenizes the sensibility of people through various subjects like art, architecture, design etc. All over the world the same syllabus is taught! Hence if aesthetic education involves awakening the senses by creating situations for connecting to the natural context of the learners lives, there is a potential for making the learner authentic and original. This authenticity will create rooted cultures and thus retain diversity. Based on my explorations i am also attempting an experiement with children. See the blog www.reimaginingschools.wordpress.com and http://my.opera.com/jinankb/albums/ Do contact me at jinankb@gmail.com for further collaborations and exploration on this.
K.B. Jinan
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Dear K.B. Jinan, I have posted to you today in another topic and I will be sending another email.

I was most interested to see that you favour cultural vernacular design and vernacular artisans as a way of engaging with aesthetics. Because for too long there has been a divide between artists and artisans, where artists look down upon artisans as mere labourers. Whereas, today many so-called artists are unskilled and amateurs playing at art. So who are they to look down upon those who are skilled and who can work materials?

As I may have said earlier, the profession of architecture is not only relatively new and replaces the much earlier title of Master Builder (aka Mimar) or Master Craftsman, but within living memory (two generations)has thrown away the original practice of having the architect living and working `on site` and adopted the practice of working away from the site in an office (and in a contextless vacuum), so that the architect no longer has any "feel" for what or even how something is built.

Oddly enough, yesterday there was an article in the property section of a UK national newspaper, saying "Many of our great architects were first bitten by the design bug when they were children." But what the article calls great architects are the likes of Lord Rogers (designer of the appalling urban oil refinery known as the Lloyds building)and Lord Foster (designer of various `Blots on the Landscape`)and attributes their greatness to playing with Meccano as children. Whereas, their designs look like the work of children, who have become engineers and who continue to play endlessly with their Meccano.

Similarly, quite a lot of today`s buildings look like plastic brick Toytown versions of real buildings, but this phenomena most probably comes from designing things which look okay on two dimensional paper and yet fail when viewed in three dimensions.

In a sense, many of the "icons" of modern architecture are perfectly constructed but completely soulless (without any particle of humanity), designed for and made by robots.
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Actually, different people have different aesthetical standard. So it's hard to define.Here are some architectural renderings we create for architects who have different concept when designing.(www.frontop.com/sitecn/case.aspx?tid=Render&cid=9)
Frontop Ni
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Frontop Ni, True, different people have different viewpoints, but all follow the principles of aesthetics even if they are unaware of these principles, in the same way as mathematicians follow the principles of mathematics even if they are unaware of those principles.

Whereas, to say that "different people have different aesthetic standards" implies that there are no principles of aesthetics and so yes, it would be hard to define principles when you do not believe or cannot believe that it is even possible to have principles.

In effect, what you are saying is the existential statement: "Because I do not know (or know of) the principles of aesthetics, therefore they do not exist."
Frank John Snelling
How to Define Beauty in Architecture?
Please note that my own views upon what is and what is not aesthetics are my own subjective personal views and are not to be confused with the Principles of Aesthetics and Design that I deduced in the early 1990s.

Therefore, my own personal views on art and architecture are an unconscious reflection of my conscious deductions.
Frank John Snelling
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