Senada architecture said that: – Architecture is the



ARCH630 Philosophy of Arch &

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Fall 2017




What is not
working with the Architecture?!



It is well defined that the Architecture is the art or practice of designing and
constructing buildings. So, being an architect does not rely only on designing
beautiful objects, many architects nowadays have a misunderstanding on this point. Aesthetic side of a building is very important
but in my opinion the simple basic problem with today’s architecture is that
most of designers forget or unintentionally ignore the science side which has a
big role not only in architecture but on anything that impact the human’s life.
There is no question that every architects wish is to design iconic building that
will last long and serve as landmarks, but most of them does ignore the principle
of modernism, -‘form follow function’. It is true that good designs are
expensive, but considering the consequences of ‘bad’ ones, it will cost you
more, so cost should not exist as a reason of designing ‘absurd’ buildings.  

There is not a quick answer on what is going
wrong with architecture, but instead, to solve the
existing problem a number of factors should be considered, including experience of human beings, sustainability, ego,
and so it goes on. And this explains why the Danish architect, the founder and creative
partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Bjarke
Ingels when asked how he defines architecture said
that: – Architecture is the art and science of making sure that our cities and
buildings actually fit with the way we want to live our lives: the process of manifesting our society into
our physical world’.(BI) The primary design goal
on every architectural style has to be designing spaces to accommodate human
activities, optimizing human interactions. It’s that simple, but we still
forgot it while we are on the designing process.  Designing for the future is as important as
understanding the reality. The design goal mentioned above is even ignored when
trying to design high-quality and sustainable buildings.  The ‘eco’
word is now put before almost everything when talking about buildings of the
future and restorations of old buildings. We have eco schools, homes, and eco
superstores, but wonder who is using these spaces?! Less
critics are made over the historic buildings, opposite to what we have seen on
the Modern and Contemporary Architecture. This may be because we consider them
perfect or we are used to see them as inspirational objects or maybe because the ‘architects’ really dived into what the client
wanted, reflecting on  the human needs as
the key factor for a successful design. John Ruskin known as the father of
preservation on his writing on The Lamp of Memory (1849) wrote: ‘For, indeed,
the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, not in its gold. Its
glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching,
of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in
walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity.’ (JR)


Thinking of good architecture make everybody picture
iconic building like Eiffel tower, works of Antonio Gaudi or Colosseum, Italy.
There is no doubt that those buildings are amongst the most famous in the
world, but that does not necessarily mean that they define the best
architecture in world. Architects should not get discouraged but either inspire
and try to take away good design elements from them.  It is very important how well a building works
on human scale and how welcoming a building is. Those factors lead the building
to stand the test of time. And if it doesn’t, architects designers and
engineers should find methods how can be adapted to suit the modern time. 

I have mention above that Antonio Gaudi’s
artistic work that is both functional and beautiful. It has survived the years,
new technologies and the other crisis. Gaudi was inspired by the organic shapes found in nature.  Special designs need special architects and Gaudi was one of the few. He
was a great craftsmen but he was not doing it all by himself, there were artist
of his time collaborating with him. When great minds come together, beautiful
things are created. Construction began in 1882 and will not be completed before
2026, meaning that while designing and constructing the work he was also
thinking for the future, for a ‘sustainable designs’ that will continue to be
effective for a long time. Air conditioning are unnecessary on his buildings
because each has a natural ventilation system. Obviously high technology was
not something he needed to improve his designs, less than two hundred years
from now. Considering that it started building in 1882, interior walls are
removable because a concrete-steel construction, which requires no load-bearing
walls makes this possible. As in any other living spaces, there has been
critics, but mostly because those people refuse to see beyond its richly
decorated and apparently random forms. He used a highly sophisticated
mathematics and advanced structural engineering. The Catalonia modernist
architecture has not only inspired architects of that time , his work has
inspired designs by some of the world’s finest architects and engineers over
the past decades, Oscar Niemeyer, Frei Otto and Pier Luigi Nervi among them and
will continue to do so. (GAUDI)

The ceiling inside on one the buildings, look like
a dense forest of trees with sunlight shining through it. Everything he
designed, he said, “comes from the Great Book of Nature”.

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Architecture, indeed, has a big impact on
occupant’s life, holds within it a great power to uplift the way humans live
their daily lives. Architects today neglect to take into account the lives of
people and their needs before embarking on the project. One of the biggest
challenges the spatial designer face is finding a good concept that will work
through all the process. Understanding the problems on site helps to find a
good concept, and when you have one, you are almost halfway on completing a
successful building design. Concept is based on analyzing various aspects of
your design problem, site, and context as well as thinking of the future is one
of the key elements. When Norman Foster, the British architect whose company,
Foster + Partners, maintains an international

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design practice famous for high-tech
architecture, was asked how difficult is it to design buildings for an unknown
future, he explains; – ‘Flexibility is a key consideration. We design with an
awareness that circumstances will change — that a building’s context will
evolve; it may be used in different ways and will need to incorporate new
technologies that we cannot yet predict.’ (NF)Different cultures of the world are operating
at the same time and each has their own value system. Being relevant is
important, you need to be open to an enormous multiplicity of interpretations,
readings and values. Speaking ahead of the RIBA’s International
Conference, Lord Norman Foster
give some thoughts of what he thinks is the future of our cities and the role
architects can play in shaping this future. When it comes to future urbanism of
cities, he is all about the mixed-used cities. He wants to bring back and
rediscover the old city system not just designing much better buildings and
higher performance buildings but offering a higher quality of urban life in a
more sustainable way. He strongly points out that world need more disciplines
working together and not just architect designing the building and leaving the
project on the others hands to bring it to reality. The work of architect is
not only to design the building, but also making it possible for other
architects to transform the infrastructure of the city, to merge the
architectural styles into a very acceptable way.

Another supporter of mixed-use cities is Jane Jacobs, an urban writer and activist who championed
new, community-based approaches to planning for over 40 years. On her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she strongly supported “mixed-use” cities – the mix of various
building types and uses, regardless of whether commercial or private. According
to this idea, a city needs to be used by 9–5 office workers, students,
residents, daytime shoppers and restaurant. She wants cities to be “organic,
spontaneous, and untidy,” She advocated for a place-based,
community-centered approach to urban planning.

“The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as
possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two.
These must ensure that presence of people who go outdoors on different
schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use
many facilities in common.”    (JJ)

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Controversy to ‘a good architecture’ from
critics above, there exist an ‘absurd architecture’. That is how John Silber,
son of an Architect and the president of Boston University (1971-1996) defines
most of the building of modern and post-modern architecture. He is very
concerned on the path that architecture has taken on the last decades. ‘The
absurdity movement spread as a cadre of self –proclaimed artist- painters,
sculptors, performance artist-arose who would do anything to attract large
audience.’ (JS) Supporting his idea, he brings some example of famous
architects and as he states on his book ‘their failed designs’.   The multi-venue performing art center in
Sydney, the Sydney Opera House is designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and
is considered as one of the most famous building of the 20th
century. Silber admires how the building work well with the architecture of the
city:-‘The building is surrounded by water, and from a distance it floats as a
lovely sailing ship. But it also work well as a group of concert halls, even
though it was not completed as Utzon intended’.  He is not against curvilinear lines, on the
contrary, he appreciate the contemporary architects who integrate this style
into an innovative harmony. He goes further complimenting another good design
of Santiago Calatrava.  The World Trade
Center is one of New York’s newest
architectural designs. It is a terminal station in Manhattan, New York. ‘The design is not
merely a matter of form reflecting function but of innovative form allowing for
new, appealing functions’- finishes his comment on his book Silber.

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On the other hand, what he calls bad design or
absurd architecture are building that their form does not follow any function. ‘Libeskind’s
design for the Denver Art Museum is a classic example of architecture as
sculpture—in this case, a rendering of the carcass of a crashed space shuttle’.
JS It is
true that the cost of this building is enormous relative to its function, plus
the visitors have a hard time to orient/circulate inside the museum. The New York Times said its galleries had “tortured geometries’, – In a building of
canted walls and asymmetrical rooms-tortures geometries generated purely by
formal considerations- it is virtually impossible to enjoy the art”.( NYT) .Lewis Sharp, Museum director selected architect Daniel Libeskind
because he wanted a radical design.

Royal Ontario Museum is housed in a split building – one side is
the original brick building while the other side is an angular glass structure
designed by Daniel Libeskind in 2007. Not ignoring that the shape is fresh and
something new to the City of Toronto, still, wasted spaces and strange corners
are created by the angular walls, forcing the visitors to take unexpected pathways
through galleries. There are strong opinions on both sides, but what got more
attention is the

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combination of the old with the new architecture which is not as
much pleasant to the eyes of


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The father of Pattern Language movement, Christopher Alexander,
has his own philosophy on design and the approaches to designing functional
buildings. People should design houses, streets, and communities for
themselves.  ‘This idea may imply a
radical transformation of the architectural profession, but it emerges quite
simply from the observation that most of the beautiful places of the world were
not made by architects but by the people.’ CHA Alexander is playing a big role on design. With more than two
hundred buildings over the world he is starting a new era in architecture, a
living architecture. Alexander argues that living structure is at once both
personal and structural. The quotation below shows Alexanders perspective,
where he thinks a good design should come from. Most successful projects are
the one who derive from the land, from the building around. As stated by him:
-the design should be in harmony with the surroundings. 

“I’ll tell you a story. I was in India in 1961. I was living in
a village most of the time. I studied that village, tried to understand what
village life was all about. And I got back to Harvard, a few months later, and
I got a letter from the government of the town in India, saying ‘We’ve got to
re-locate our village because of the dam construction. Would you like to build
it?’ I think about 2000 people were being moved. And I thought about it. And
then I was very sad. And I wrote back, and I said, ‘You know, I don’t know
enough about how to do it. Because I don’t want to come in and simply build a
village, because I don’t think that will make life. I know that the life has
got to come from the people, as well as what’s going on physically,
geometrically. My experience of living in the village is that I do not know
enough about how to actually make that happen. And therefore I very regretfully
decline your kind offer.’ And I was actually chagrined beyond measure that I
had to give that reply. But it was honest, and in fact, it was because of that
letter that I wrote A Pattern Language. Because, I thought and thought, and I
said, ‘You know, this is crazy. What would I have to do, to put in people’s
hands the thing with which they could do this, so that it would be like a real
village and not like an architect’s fantasy?” CHA This way of thinking may as well inspire a new generation of practitioners
and thinkers, and so a new architectural style may start taking shape.       

Going further with Alexander’s philosophy, ‘The quality of
public buildings depends on how they harmonize with their surrounding
architecture fail if there is no pattern followed. On between the environment
and the building, it is very important for a designer to understand the
environment and to follow the pattern of it. 
What we mean by a good building is one that has a certain quality, what
we normally call “life.” CHA

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 Going back to year 1993 when
Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition
and philosophical hermeneutics, wrote his book  Building
Dwelling Thinking, he  sums it up by the  example of a place of dwelling: the Black
Forest farm house. On his book, the example of the Black Forest farm serves to
illustrate how, for Heidegger, dwelling should be carried out. Interesting is
that the very modest building/farm is designed by people who lived and knew the
surrounding better than any ‘genius’ architect coming from the outside. The
farm is suited to the conditions of the Black Forest: hillside locations, broad
tracks, high levels of snowfall and heavy wind loading. Heidegger suggest the
Blackforest farm, not to make the Germans go two hundred years backward on
designing their ‘dwellings’: ‘Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then we
can build. our reference to the Black Forest farm in no way means that we
should or could go back to building such houses; rather it illustrates by a
dwelling that has been how it was able to build’ MH

 Critics of architecture
have always been around and will always exist. 
Now, most of the critics are on the Post-modernism because this architectural
movement is still active. But with the new technologies, the recycling of old
buildings is becoming more and more attractive. From one perspective, we saw
designers who plan on human scale, culture and environment, on the other hand
we have architects whose works are abstract, and more as enlarged sculptures
put on site. The accurate factor that may lead architects to design so, are all
different. One may be the case as on the big institutional buildings like
museums, concert halls or universities, when people who decide on picking the
design are not from the field. Mostly, they are not spending their own money
and they are not taking any personal financial risk. Most of the time those
people are not fully informed on the institution needs. Another issue is were
famous architects don’t fear the market anymore. They find ways to convince
their clients on building ‘iconic’ building in which cases sometimes they do
not serve their function.