Beauty + Architecture

Beauty Evokes Reflection + Emotion

The implication of beauty is in learning how to portray our spaces in a way that the users of the space are allowed to pause, reflect, and feel something.  When it comes to reflection, some of the best spaces are spiritual buildings.  When one starts to consider why, a reason may come from the absolute serenity of the spaces and the quiet and peacefulness they evoke.  I think the reason many like a space that is both quiet and reflective is that in order to be in that space, one has to slow down. Pausing, slowing down, and feeling quieted are all things help up to hear our selves, have new ideas come to us, and feel a measure of serenity in our crazy fast paced world.  When a building or a space provokes such an emotion, it creates a lasting impression that tends to heavily effect our perception of the beauty it generates.

Suspended Reflection

A globe is hung at eye level.  The surface holds many mirrors broken in a mosaic that distort the true reflection a smoother surface would create.  A thin netting covers the entire surface and gathers in certain areas to make sure every mirror shows a different reflection.  It pays homage to the city of Fedora described in the book Invisible Cities where the main tower held different glass balls from which to view the city through.  Its beauty comes from the fact that this globe holds all possible realities, “not because they are all real, but because all are only assumptions.”


Beauty as Reflection

From early on in the semester, I had made the assumption that the perception of beauty in a piece of architecture (or in anything sustainable for that mater) was controlled by the users emotions, more importantly the emotions that a certain person, place, or thing evoked.  One rarely stands in a building and states, “Wow this place is beautiful,” without feeling any emotion (though emotions can range from happy, sad, introspective, even fear).   It is in learning how to portray our spaces in a way that the users of the space are allowed to pause and reflect and feel something.

When it comes to reflection, some of the best spaces are spiritual buildings.  It seems that churches and other places of worship have the home court advantage when it comes to emotion.  When one starts to consider why, a reason may come from the absolute serenity of the spaces and the quiet and peacefulness they evoke.  I think the reason many like the quiet is that in order to be in that space one has to slow down. Pausing, slowing down, quiet, all these things help up to hear our selves, have new ideas come to us, feel a measure of serenity in our crazy fast paced world. And, I think it’s a much needed space to be in for each and everyone of us.

Invisible Cities

In the centre of Fedora, that grey stone metropolis, stands a metal building with a crystal globe in every room. Looking into each globe, you see a blue city, the model of a different Fedora. These are the forms the city could have taken if, for one reason or another, it had not become what we see today. In every age someone, looking at Fedora as it was, imagined a way of making it the ideal city, but while he constructed his miniature model, Fedora was already no longer the same as before, and what had until yesterday a possible future became only a toy in a glass globe. The building with the globes is now Fedora’s museum: every inhabitant visits it, chooses the city that corresponds to his desires, contemplates it, imagining his reflection in the medusa pond that would have collected the waters of the canal (if it had not been dried up), the view from the high canopied box along the avenue reserved for elephants (now banished from the city), the fun of sliding down the spiral,
twisting minaret (which never found a pedestal from which to rise). On the map of your empire, O Great Khan, there must be room both for the big, stone Fedora and the little Fedoras in glass globes. Not because they are all equally real, but because all are only assumptions. The one contains what is accepted as necessary when it is not yet so; the others, what is imagined as possible and, a moment later, is possible no longer.

Beyond six rivers and three mountain ranges rises Zora, a city that no one, having seen it, can forget. But not because, like other memorable cities, it leaves an unusual image in your recollections. Zora has the quality of remaining in your memory point by
point, in its succession of streets, of houses along the streets, and of doors and windows in the houses, though nothing in them possesses a special beauty or rarity. Zora’s secret lies in the way your gaze runs over patterns following one another as in a musical score where not a note can be altered or displaced. The man who knows by heart how Zora is made, if he is unable to sleep at night, can imagine he is walking along the streets and he remembers the order by which the copper clock follows the barber’s striped awning, then the fountain with the nine jets, the astronomer’s glass tower, the melon vendor’s kiosk, the statue of the hermit and the lion, the Turkish bath, the cafe at the corner, the alley that leads to the harbour. This city which cannot be expunged from the mind is like an armature, a honeycomb in whose cells each of us can place the things he wants to remember: names of famous men, virtues, numbers, vegetable and mineral classifications, dates of battles, constellations, parts of speech. Between each idea and each point of the itinerary an affinity or a contrast can be established, serving as an immediate aid to memory. So the world’s most learned men are those who have memorized Zora. But in vain I set out to visit the city: forced to remain motionless and always the same, in order to be more easily remembered, Zora has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. The earth has forgotten her.

My short physical study dealt with altering percepstions of the perceived image.  Like the city of Fedora, I view my 360 degree mask as a way to look at the same live image with different perceptions.  As quoted in the book, “Not all are equally real, because all are only assumptions. The one contains what is accepted as necessary when it is not yet so; the others, what is imagined as possible and, a moment later, is possible no longer. “

Less: Designing with Profit

More: Designing with Passion

The Modern Backyard House by SHED

Stapleton Community Development Denver, CO

16th St. Pedestrian Mall Denver, CO

16th St. Pedestrian Mall Denver, CO

SOZAWE by NL Architects

Although Successful architecture (meaning functional buildings) must satisfy the program first and foremost, the emotions of the clients as well as the users of the space must be considered.

Richard Nuetra believed in a pychoanalysis of architecture and aimed at creating a “therapeutic” house for his clients. He would interview them and pick apart their daily lives in order to create a home that would satisfy the emotional needs of the client as a form of therapy.  In turn the architecture he created evoked a personal emotion for the users and many others that visited this building.  One of these buildings was the Kaufmann House created in 1946.

This vacation home was designed to emphasize the desert landscape and its harsh climate.

The desert, or rather, this primordial wilderness area that stretches around Palm Springs, fascinated Neutra.  Despite the neat precision of the Desert House, it evokes the spirit of the houses of those Indian tribes, which he admired so much.

Richard Neutra built a building in which the horizontal planes of the decks seem to float on transparent glass walls, giving the whole an overall look of lightness. On the other hand, to take advantage of the small slope of the plot, the house is almost fused with the landscape that surrounds it, because its volumes do not rise too much above the land, almost the entire house is on a single floor, except a small terrace which is accessed from outside. Beside the house, in a somewhat lower level, a swimming pool reflects its structure.

The Kaufmann House was built for the same client who commissioned Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright. After having been significantly amended by its successive owners, current owners of the residence decided to return it to its original state. The house, which originally had 297 m2 in area, had been expanded to nearly 474 m2. The architects removed the areas added and restored the house based on the famous photographs Julius Shulman did of the house in 1947. The architects decided to also return to the desert garden look it had in times of Neutra. In addition, they incorporated a discrete heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, and a new pavilion at the pool, known as the Harris Poll House.

The Kaufmann House distills space in the silver-plated horizontal planes that rest atop transparent glass panes.  The unique sharp vertical feature is the chimney located next to the “public square”, as Neutra called it.

As in his own home, Neutra skillfully dodged the ban on building a second height, eliminating the walls of the roundabout, except for the chimney and the vertical sheets of aluminum. From an aesthetic point of view, they defined a clear plan, from a purely functional, serving as a shield against the wind.

Although one wing of the house sits on an east-west axis, the other sits perpendicular or to the cardinal directions to expand the areas of residence.

The large sliding windows, whose bronze-colored blinds alleviated the silvery glow of the house, lead to an open, adjacent courtyard in the living room and in the master bedroom, open to the pool.

The east wing is connected with the living space of the north wing through a gallery that houses a bedroom suite.

In the north wing another corridor opens along an outside patio that leads to two other rooms.

The lounge area, shared with the dining room and more or less square, is at the center of the house. The plan in the form of cross guarantees that the four wings get both daylight and good ventilation.

The south wing connects to the public sphere and includes a marquee and two long covered walkways. These walkways are separated by a huge stone wall to give entry to the services by one side and the house on the other.

In the west wing there is a kitchen, service spaces and rooms for staff which can be reached by a deck “breezway”.

The garden permeates almost inadvertently throughout the house with smooth oscillations.  Even designed with right angles, the forms of the house are very smooth; yet the severe winds of northeast Palm Springs still blow everything they can get a hold of, despite improvements to the walls and blinds.

The decision to build the bedrooms and courtyards a spiral, reveals a specific social order. An extreme privacy is guaranteed both to the hosts, as the children, guests, and servants. The only coexistence between them occurs in the shaded walkways, terraces and courtyards. Blinds that flank a long dark pool connect the guest wing with the rest of the house.

The rear facade of the house opens to the landscape and garden, while the facade overlooking the street appears closed, with its facade of ashlar stone.

Neutra used as basic materials stone, glass and steel, and tended not to depart from the range of colors than the desert offered, so that the house does not desentonase of their natural environment. Moreover, the presence of patios and porches in the housing connects the interior and exterior, so that the desert seems to be taking part in the same building.

• Stone

The natural stone from Utah who Neutra used in the exterior and interior creates a vivid chiaroscuro effect that is difference in the smoothness in other finishes. However, the stone is carefully chiseled, both in the original house, for which Neutra trained masons who had worked in Falling Water, who had come Kaufmann, as in the restoration carried out by the new owners by mid in the 90s and lasted five years.

• Aluminum

The main outdoor rooms are enclosed by a vertical aluminum fins that offer flexible protection against sandstorms and intense heat. This is repeated at the roundabout from the second floor.

• Glass

The walls are made almost entirely with sliding windows. Although both have unprotected glass in the southern part of a home located in the middle of the desert seems crazy, this is because the house was to be used only one month per year, in January.

• Steel

Support for windows that slide into the garden outline the house giving her silvery appearance.

• Gutters

In the gutters of Southern highlights a beautiful detail. At its eastern end, the narrow strips are continuing a stretch, so that the excess rainwater can flow to the east and dropped onto the rocks. The gargoyles are an architectural element known in Japanese gardens as in medieval cathedrals. Neutra and the modernization became a “leap of water” that is a tribute to the distant Falling Water House Bear Run.

It also uses concrete and wood

In the publication On Beauty and Being Wrong, they emphasize the replication of beauty stating, “when the eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it.  Beauty brings copies of itself into being.”  Under this theory, does it reason that all forms of research are a search for beauty in hopes to replicate it?  More importantly, are precedents a more direct way to identify beautiful things and duplicate them?

Artists physically portray beauty in paintings, scultpures, etc.  Poets or journalist physically portray beauty in their writings.  Architects phsically portray beauty in the built environment.  Because all three of these professions provide services to clients, who do you think has the biggest problems resulting in moral or other conflicts when it comes to what they perceive beautiful verses what the clients perceive beautiful?

In a world of architecture jobs raninging from beautiful masterpieces to minimum code requirements, is there beauty in everything an architect creates or do restrictions such as client, budget, and code create errors in beauty itself?

Le Corbusier was born Charles Edouard Jeannerct in 1887 in the Swiss town of La Chaux de Fonds. His father was a highly skilled watch enameler; his mother was a pianist and music teacher. At the age of fifteen, Corbusier enrolled at the local trade school, L’Ecole d’Art, in order to learn the craft of watch case engraving. Corbusier’s mentor at the school was Charles L’Eplattenier. L’Eplattenier was a painter who sought out promising talent for an alternate career path in the arts.  It was L’Eplattenier who originally stated Corbusier should become an architect.  At first Corbusier preferred the painting profession, but after exposure to Edward Schure, Owen Jones’s, and philosophers such as Plato, he began to embrace the architecture profession.  From these Corbusier extracted the seemingly universal ideas of Beauty, Truth, and Harmony.  He realized the forms were out there if only one could get beneath the everyday.  He also turned away from the ornament, instead noting the true forms were geometric, stylized shapes, and figures.

Corbusier came to reject much of his teacher’s theories on the revival of traditional arts and crafts. Instead, under the direction of Auguste Perret (a Parisian Engineer) at the Bauhaus School in Vienna, he developed ideas about the inevitability of capitalist rationality and the aesthetic of the machine.  These ideas were materialized as a response to what he called the chaos around him.  While in Paris, he was overwhelmed by the traffic and conditions of the industrial workers’ housing.  His solution was the Dom-ino housing concept (a machine for living that would bring the worker’s home life in line with the discipline of the factory).  He believed in the theory of architecture as control and discipline.

The professions of his parents, the artistry of his first teacher, and the mechanics of his second mentor influenced Corbusier as an architect.  His life, as his architecture reflects, is a give and take between the design and the planning.  As evident in his many works including radiant city planning, and the creation of the universal man, he used his skills to perfect mathematical beauty.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Architecture is knowing which ones to keep.

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