This article observes the tension generated by the apparent opposition between: Architecture and the Author / Architecture as Industry. Different authors have tried to bring out their understanding of architecture while criticizing the applicability of it in the modern world. Their arguments are based on past practices, which, according to them, form the basis for the modern architectural practices (Conrads 1970).
Contributions made towards modern architecture as early as the year 1906 are still being used, with the end of it not yet known, and the products from these contributions scarcely recognized. With the dominance of economic questions within modern life, people as well as architects have to participate in architectural problems ranging from town planning to private dwellings. Formalistic constructions based on these phenomena are characteristic of vacillating trends changing more quickly over the past century than the principles which they were based on (Allsopp 1981).
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This case will be based on prior literature that covers one century and will try to analyze the use of architecture and how authors agree or disagree on the subject matter in their discussion. This article will focus on what comprises architecture in the modern days, while at the same time highlighting the contributions made by Greeks towards architecture. This essay will seek to conclude that the importance of incorporating architecture into a construction from its planning phase to completion is a necessary aspect rather than trying to improve the quality through decorations (Conrads 1970).
It is important to adapt an old building for modern use if the full benefits are to be derived and tranquility in the building attained. Architects are guided by engineers who are responsible for determining the materials and the support for the buildings, leaving the architects’ task mainly in terms of the artworks. An architect is not only concerned with the building itself but with the fittings and the surroundings for the building. It is important to note that architecture is not only affected by the construction alone but by other factors such as the materials use, the surrounding environment and the fittings (Cuff 1992).
In organic architecture, a building is not one thing different from its setting, environment or even it furnishings. All the above work together as one in conceiving a building and should be provided for and foreseeable in a structure. They become mere details of the completed formation and character of the structure creating a dwelling as a completed art work, that is suited to an individual needs to express its character through a combination of other factors (Conrads 1970).
There has been a variety of attempts to try and incorporate the ancient Greek language into the modern construction. The Greek mathematics contributed to the order and proportion of classical architecture work that establishes harmony in a structure through the repetition of simple ratios or through the use of orders of architecture. Order and repetition of ratios constitute the Latin of architecture or a classical language. Ancient Greeks recognized three orders namely; Corinthians, Doric and ionic. Repeating or combining a given order generates a rhythm in a building that contributes to its harmonious visual effect. With time, the Greek architects learnt the use of geometric principles known as the golden ratio to systematically relate building parts (Iffriq 2008).
The Greeks’ also made a contribution to architecture through the development of rational procedure that helps control a building’s design and assist perfectly the relationship among its parts. Renaissance architects, after centuries of neglect, re-established the architecture classical language as an essential element or condition to building design. This language was, however, abandoned due to the rise of modernism, although its traces are still available. From the Parthenon to the modernists such as Le Corbusier, building precedent was set that focused on harmony and sophistication and this development has not been surpassed (Iffriq 2008).
True architecture is not achievable through decorations and that problems found in modern architecture are not solvable through purely external means. With little regards to scales, the principle of interpreting things in a way that is surface based, where only the physical aspects are taken as important and not the entire structural components, has led to reproduction of various materials according to the play of lines being forced onto particular systems. This might have no harm on small works but is a big inhibitor to invention because it curtails real invention and creativity leading to monstrosities when applied to large scale tectonic projects (Conrads 1970).
The aforementioned has led to renunciation of tectonic solutions and that kind of support is minimal and surface decorations are used while omitting dividing cornices. The results are a forced tranquillity that did not exist in the past. Such tranquility is forced because it is not as a result of a real balance of energies that has accompanied the tectonic transition full emphasis. This has the effects of distracting the artist from the main task and failed mastery of the motif as a result of the lack of organic and spontaneity in the work therefore corresponding to the artists temperament and ability as a result of the used external peculiarities aimed at covering past mistakes and improve the quality to bring the tranquility (Cuff 1992).
If the design of earlier buildings is to meet the needs of modern life, it must be adapted to modern requirements and the materials used correctly. The construction must be adapted for the intended purpose to be able to produce the tranquility that is irreplaceable through decorations and other embellishments no matter how skillfully they are applied. Today’s architectural problems, including decorative problems, cannot be solved without the use of the past especially the mastery of tectonic problems. The materials used in the modern day are still the same as that used previously, even with the achievements of the construction industry yet past practices have not yet surpassed (Conrads 1970).
A structural work has to tally with the work of an engineer and the architect has to follow this. The past has enriched the industry with an understanding of the materials used and their characteristics. Science has bequeathed architects with a wide knowledge of the laws of statics, but at the moment they face more constraints compared to previous years, where common sense was relied upon to solve architectonic problems (Gilchrist 2004).
The engineer’s responsibility is to calculate and design a unity taking into consideration the load and the support, right parts measurements of the structure parts and the constituent materials. The architect’s main responsibility is decorative, imposed on the building’s fabric and this ends up spoiling the organic clarity. A tectonic constructional form has its nucleus in which the artist must focus on and not only from the external decorative considerations. Domestic architecture freezes itself from external conception making demands operating from the inside outwards and help architect achieve the authenticity to be taken into account (Architecture resources for enterprise advantage n.d).
A great emphasis is usually placed on the individual elements in a way that is contrary to the whole organic harmony. This is therefore damaging the smaller dimensions buildings because it kills the harmony that should be in existence and removes the tranquility. It is important to note that utilizing varied building materials on one structure is not possible without destroying the basic structure, distracting the attentions from the core of the building. Being confused about architectural idioms and lacking knowledge of the essentials leads to chasing fashionable manners that are subject to contempt, unlike real architecture that is a product of intense thought and that is governed by artistic considerations that are less susceptible to imitators. As can be seen of late, architecture is evolving where buildings are having few complications and focusing on a solution and unrelenting objectivity (Salingaros 2007).
Regardless of the achievements made in the areas of interior design, fruitful inspirations, and the fresh life breathed into handicrafts, architecture has not yet come of age. There are numerous buildings that are coming up daily but they are inferior in nature because architects are not using their creativity to develop them and planning is also done poorly making them irrelevant to the current age and show a lack of culture (Conrads 1970).
Having buildings that fill city streets or other populated areas does not indicate success and this is especially bad at the moment where there is energy that can be used to construct decent architectural constructions. The inability to use such energy indicates that architects have not gotten to grips with the tasks intended and this is characteristic of the cultural situation of the modern day. There has been growth in the condemnation of constructions as either inhabitable or for total destruction. Few changes have been seen with regards to architecture over the preceding decade (Conrads 1970).
The history of the world indicates fundamental changes that characterize major developments. Art is one of these developments as it expresses life and creates reality of an object giving it an in-depth feeling of harmony and balance. Architecture is one of the most popular forms of art in this modern day due to the advances in technology, practices of rendering constructions visible and the objectivity associated with it. Architecture is a great contributor of insight and goes beyond established principles. It results in a shift from mediation to concentration it encompasses not only sculpture and pictures but a wider variety of aspects and is self-sufficient (Salingaros 2007).
Architects are great contributors to this concentration through their choice of unsuitable advisors and this has curtailed the artistic culture in general. It is imperative that it is more than just the material aspects of a construction, but that the spiritual aspect is embraced over the developmental techniques and the purpose of the construction (Rudofsky n.d).
Architectonic culture is the true measure of a nation’s culture and will continue being this way in the future. A nation that continuously erects worst buildings continuously even though it produces good light fittings or furniture shows signs of heterogeneity and un-clarified conditions indicating lack of organization and discipline. Culture is unthinkable without a total respect of form and this is synonymous to lacking a culture (Salingaros 2007).
Doubts have been raised on the functional planning and rational buildings from different authors of periodicals although a solution has not yet been arrived at due to uncommitted laissez- faire or action. Contrary to this belief, regard is being focused on locality as well as specific situations. This however does not call for planning of towns and construction without due regard to the surroundings but use of creative imagination that is based on precise observation of the structures of the city. A number of authors have criticized modern architecture arguing that dynamic buildings cannot exist without elliptical or slanting lines (Conrads 1970).
A number of authors argue that it is not the final completion of the structure that is important but the entire process and that in trying to make a poorly constructed building look good will amount to trying to force the external factors onto a building and this does not create tranquility. Architecture has been evolving over the century but the evolution is not yet fully realized in terms of constructions that have fully embraced it in their work. Much focus has been on the materials used for the construction however there are other considerations that are at play as far as architecture is concerned. (Salingaros 2007).
Taking into account the initial architectural demands that are in a position of creating tranquility is important to the architect. Having too much in a structure robs the building its natural calmness which is achievable through simplicity of the overall design. An architect may be too much preoccupied by the exterior painterly conceptions, depriving them of the benefits of focusing on the tranquility of the construction. When the tranquility has been achieved, decorative richness can be applied without having to overburden the structure (Conrads 1970).
Architects are facing more problems recently than in the past due to the influences of engineers and requirements of planning and their drive towards creating an organic harmony in an entire construction. Incorporation of different construction materials on a single building destroys its basic structure and distracts the attentions from the core of the building (Conrads 1970).
Even with the modern developments, architecture has not fully developed and constructions that are inferior are coming up, leading to some being condemned to destruction. An architect has a responsibility of encouraging the artistic culture and they need to revive their intellectual understanding. Architects should be concerned about specific situations and localities and have in mind proper planning when they come up with cities through the use of creative imagination based on proper observation of such city structures (Conrads 1970).
Allsopp Bruce, (1981). A Modern Theory of Architecture. Routledge.
“Architecture resources for enterprise advantage,” [pdf]. Retrieved on 16/8/12 from
Conrads, U. ed (1970) Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, MIT Press
Cuff Dana, (1992). Architecture: The Story of a Practice. MIT Press
Gilchrist Alan, Barry Mahon, (2004). Information architecture. Facet Publishing 7 Ridgmount Street, London.
Iffriq Andrew, (2008). From Parthenon to Modern Movement. Architecture suite 101
Rudofsky Bernard, (n.d). Architecture without Architects. Retrieved on 8/16/2012 from
Salingaros A. Nikos, (2007). A Theory of Architecture. Umbau-Verlag Harald Pusche
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