After constant research on architecture in the past 11 weeks, I did learn about the gap between theoretical architecture that they teach you at school and real life architecture that you can’t possibly teach at school. In architecture school, professors teach you all about design theories and ideals. But in real life, people who are not in the profession usually do not understand these theoretical ideals and design strategies; and architects do not get the chance to explain their design intentions to everyone. People then only care about the result: looks and costs. An architect thus have to be a “god” – trying to fulfill usage, looks, costs and practicality, and at the same time knowing that people most likely will not understand his or her work, or even dislike the work.

The research skills I have learnt have been very useful. Being able to take advantage of the multiple databases that the university has to offer is helpful to each assignment (as compared to my only resource before – proquest). The workshops are great because you never know what information your peers have to offer, especially when later in the semester we are grouped according to our topics. Writing blogs is a great way to keep track of research and always serves as a start if I’m stuck with my essay.

I would eventually want to keep up with a blog that summarizes the interesting architectural findings I have. Because the only way of advancing in architecture is to be updated constantly since there are so many new things being designed everyday.
Something like dezeen.com would be nice.


Is it a building, or a piece of architecture?

In response to Richard Meier's statement on "architecture is art," I found a video of the particular interview in which he explains the statement.

Question: Is architecture art?

Richard Meier: Architecture is art. Every work is a work of art. Architecture is the greatest of the arts, and it encompasses thinking that other arts don’t even deal with. Like relationship of the work to the individual human being – the person who uses it; the person who experiences it; the person who sees it; and how that person perceives that space. You know there’s an old adage that a sculptor can make a square wheel, and an architect has to make a round one. You have a certain responsibility not just to your client, not just to the people using the building, but to the public at large with what you do.

Question: When does a building become art?

Richard Meier: Well I don’t say all buildings are architecture, first of all. So there’s lots of buildings that have nothing to do with architecture. They have to do with economics. They have to do with an enclosure, but I wouldn’t consider them works of architecture. To be a work of architecture is creating a work of art.

This also the question of is a prison work of architecture. Obviously a prison only functions to enclose, and it is important for cost effectiveness and practicality. A prison would most likely not be considered as architecture because designed to consider how comfortable or uncomfortable the prisoners would be housed.
Another example, nobody would consider the grocery store at the gas station as a piece of architecture. It is just a building that serves to enclose.

To Richard Meier, architecture is art because
1. it deals with aesthetics
2. design is incorporating art with practicality
3. when a building is designed to be responsible to the people who are housed, and certain space is designed to have particular function due to the usage


Architecture's usefulness

I happened to come across a book called "Genius of Architecture or the Analogy of that Art with Our Sensation," and found the following quotes:

The human world is governed by the principle of 'the priority of appearance'. What is hidden from us has no meaning. To know how to build, therefore, you must first understand appearances.

Architecture is useful only if it is not absorbed in being useful. Human purposes change from epoch to epoch, from decade to decade, from year to year. Buildings must therefore obey the law of the 'mutability of function'... The capacity of a building to survive such changes is one proof of its merit: one proof that it answers to something deeper in us than the transient function which required it.

The above are two of the eleven principles that the author laid out for education of the nineteenth century architects. Just these two already contradicted the basic differentiation between architecture and art: architecture being functional and art being functionless.

The first quote calls for the importance for aesthetics in architecture, basically art involving in the design process. But how much art is to be involved? Or even, what kind of ornamentation? The idea behind the second quote can be used to answer these questions. The usefulness of architecture lies within its flexibility of transforming into different spaces, which is also a 'useless' space because there is no definite purpose. To answer how much and what art is to be involved, flexibility and changing are crucial. And also, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Nobody can determine how much and what kind of art is to be incorporated, other than the architect who understands the need for the flexibility of putting in how much ornamentation.

And the definition of 'ornamentation' in architecture can sometimes be as simple as a splash of light onto a brutal concrete wall or colored illuminations.

Church of Light, Tadao Ando

James Turrell


Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the most famous star-chitect nowadays. His works are iconic and very sculptural. Below examples are the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the vase collection that Gehry has designed for Tiffany.

Resemblance of the strange angles and curves can be seen. In viewing the city in a larger sense, the Disney Concert Hall can said to be simply a vase (just like his Tiffany collection).

Differentiation of Architecture and Art

Architecture and art have been categorized as two different subjects in modern days. The two are born from the human needs of aesthetics and beauty, diverging on the verge of function and practicality. While architects divine architecture as art because of the pursuit of aesthetics and design, artists do not see buildings as art because of the functional nature of architecture.

The relationship between architecture and art has been changing over the history. At Renaissance period, both subjects fell under the same category – arts. During the Industrial Revolution, technology flourished and suddenly architecture turned its focus on technological challenges rather than aesthetics challenges. In reaction to this movement, architecture once again stepped back and reinvents its direction – the nature of architecture. This is the birth of modern architecture and departure from art ever since. However, with the realization of aesthetic needs, architecture struggles to earn back its relevance in art nowadays. Iconic architecture then becomes the trend.

The fuzzy link between architecture and art can be described as a love-hate relationship, as seen in history. To explore the relationship between the two, one must know the definition of architecture and art, how the two share a symbiotic nature, and how important they are to each other.
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architecture by jlam1011 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.