A short Essay On Beauty.

3 Apr

Beauty is defined as the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

However, beauty has been topic of debate in terms of its definition. In order to see what is special about pleasure in beauty, we must shift the focus back to consider what is special about the judgment of taste, which helps determine beauty in an object. For Kant, the judgment of taste claims “universal validity”, which he describes as follows:… when [a man] puts a thing on a pedestal and calls it beautiful, he demands the same delight from others. He judges not merely for himself, but for all men, and then speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things. Thus he says that the thing is beautiful; and it is not as if he counts on others agreeing with him in his judgment of liking owing to his having found them in such agreement on a number of occasions, but he demands this agreement of them. He blames them if they judge differently, and denies them taste, which he still requires of them as something they ought to have; and to this extent it is not open to men to say: Every one has his own taste. This would be equivalent to saying that there is no such thing as taste, i.e. no aesthetic judgment capable of making a rightful claim upon the assent of all men. (Kant 1790, p. 52; see also pp. 136–139. However, having said that, there is art and architecture around the world which provides universal appeal. For example, the Cathedral of Notre Dame could easily enamor a Hindu family, without them having very little or no knowledge of its cultural or religious significance. The Taj Mahal and the Statue of David could exude great amounts of sublimity to people of every walks of life. What is it in Art and Architecture that arouses such pleasure and popularity?

Corbusier once said, “The Architect, by his arrangements of forms, realizes an order which is a pure creation of his spirit; through forms and shapes he affects our senses to an acute degree and provokes plastic emotions; by the relationships which he creates he creates profound echoes in us, he gives us the measure of an order which we feel to be in accordance with that of our world, he determines the various movements of our heart and of our understanding; it is then we experience the sense of beauty.”

The above stated personal opinion could very well be the reason of Art and Architecture being an inherent and quintessential part of the global cultural heritage. Also, Art and Architecture has also regarded as stimulants to generate happiness.

As Fredrick M. Padelford mentioned, “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, as has been observed, it is the normal function of beauty to make us happy.

Unless we have allowed ourselves to become diseased, happiness will attend beauty as naturally as flowers turn to the sun” (Frederick M. Padelford, “The Civic Control of Architecture,” American Journal of Sociology, July 1908, 45-46).]

This short essay though it does not conclude with a well defined explanation of beauty, it will give one an idea about some the various elements, which forms a very prominent influence on beauty.



Short essay on the Documentary : Rem Koolhaas : A kind of Architect

3 Apr

REM KOOLHAAS: A KIND OF ARCHITECT is an engaging portrait of a visionary man that takes us to the heart of his ideas. Directors Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch have made a visually inventive, thought-provoking portrait of the architect, prompting Rem Koolhaas to state, “It’s the only film about me that I have liked.”

His outstanding creations—such as the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Library and the Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto—are working examples of the Dutchmanʼs visionary theories about architecture and urban society. But Koolhaasʼ work is as much about ideas as it is about constructing buildings. For Koolhaas, what is essential is not to create individual masterpieces, but to provoke and excite through the wide range of his activities.

Dada-influenced shorts and experimental music videos, the busy, captivating “Rem Koolhaas” takes a documentary approach to the creations of the Dutch architect. The movie is partly a biography of Koolhaas, who grew up in the postwar ruins of Rotterdam, then moved to Indonesia in the early 1950s. It is truly interesting to see the transition of his earlier influences and career paths leading form literature to film criticism and directing and finally to realms of Architecture.

What I found amusing is his insight of Architecture, which blends his previous engagements and influences. For example, it becomes evident when he talks about Architecture to a relative effect of bringing ʻDrama and Suspenseʼ, which I thought was a thought provoking aspect and could be essentially a great way to bring interest to architecture in general. Koolhaas also compares architecture to script writing. Both, he says, require a plot, a series of episodes and a montage that pulls them together and makes them interesting. Another much needed perspective to Architecture, I thought. The documentary covers a wide range of interviews and comments from his colleagues and friends, his influence on other Architects and his theory on design. Even though the theory stands strong on research and leaning strongly towards innovation and ʻnew thinkingʼ, I personally felt there is lack of sensitivity on Rems part towards the building mass and proportion and itʼs relative scale to the environment and context. His very arrogant statement “F**k the context” leaves little doubt that his architecture in contrast to be designing for the end user and respecting its context, which is a strong co-relation of itʼs adjoining culture, heritage and history, Koolhaas disrupts the harmony and rhythm in nature and itʼs creation. This eventually and inadvertently leads us to think that the architecture is all about Rem Koolhas- the brand, where all is forgiven and value base of the design is in a name only.

None the less, his collaboration with his engineer was a very interesting one. Cecil Balmond is one of those structural engineers with great eye for aesthetics and respects structural order and form,and in this case, meets and compliments Rem Koolhaasʼs own sensitivity and ideas. It is case one of those marriages that Architects often crave for, especially when met with a challenge for creating iconic projects. Though my criticism was harsh as some level, I understand the need for Architectʼs of such innovational cadre to deliver and built projects for the entire A and E professional entity to scrutinize itʼs pros and cons, itʼs success and failures, related to theory of Architectural Design and Urban Design just because it is exists in the built form and physically present in itʼs body and skin for all of humanity to see, touch, feel and understand. Thank you, Rem.


1 Feb

This is a blog for ARCH640, Ball State University, Spring Semester 2010. The course is theory-based and driven by the understanding of beauty in architecture. Pages and topics can be added and updated as necessary. Please provide a link to your blogs on the “People” page.