Should architecture be beautiful?

Should architecture be beautiful?

We all like to look at beautiful things; be it objects, nature, art, and people. It changes our perception and allows a range of emotions to influence us. But when we look around us, I wonder if we have left architecture out of the mix.

Should architecture follow suit? The Taj Mahal, for example, is a beautiful building – majestic in form, symmetry, and scale – it appeals to us all.

This building’s beauty transcends religious views, architectural style, and time. Architecture is not about re-creating the Taj Mahal, but trying to create spaces with an undeniable sense of impact and beauty.

We all have individual tastes; we tend to think that our own views are extremely varied; yet we live in a world that has a strong focus on trend, fashion and following style.

A sea of suburban brick and tile homes are the trend, but not a beautiful experience. Individual owners may think that their own abode is pleasing; but collectively it does not make for a ‘beautiful’ environment.

Architects have a range of tools that choreograph the act of creating beauty; proportion, scale, balance, pattern, rhythm, order, and space are some of the key ones. These tools, when used in context, can bring a building to life and allow it to aesthetically ‘sing’.

How these elements are arranged determines how well it works. The choices of materials, textures and colour’s are as equally important as what the building looks like or feels like once you’re inside it.

Architecture considers the relationships between all these elements; the fine detail and the junctions between surfaces, textures and material are all taken into account.

Do they contrast each other, enhance each other, overlap and juxtopoz each other, touch each other or create tension by not quite touching. Material is like colour. There are no wrong colours. There are just wrong ways to use them. It is the fine tuning that makes the difference. As Architects we don’t think of ‘red’ – we think in terms of candy, jam, wine and lipstick. It is this shift and subtlety that brings about the delight.

Each of these decisions impacts on our view of the architecture whether realise it or not.

Contemporary culture advocates diversity and evolution of styles, and encourages the development of new ideas.

Aesthetically successful architecture comes from integrating this approach by acknowledging the past, how it relates to the present with an understanding of how the building will age in the future.

Aging gracefully is a universal sign of beauty, and beauty, of course, has a strong correlation to happiness. Frederick M. Padelford, an American scholar during the Frank Lloyd Wright era stated, “Indeed, I think that we are not at all aware of the immense social asset that uniformly good architecture would be. Fancy a city in which all of the buildings are beautiful, and trace the influence on the lives of the inhabitants. In the first place, it would add greatly to the happiness of people, for it is the normal function of beauty to make us happy.”

We have never needed to understand the value of architectural design more than today, especially its influence on us, its impact on our day-to-day experience of the world and its ability to render an architecturally beautiful, happy space to inhabit.