Monday, February 27, 2012

Le Corbusier

I learned a lot from my contact with le Corbusier and from reading his theories. The only direct influence I had from him, however, was on the day that he told me architecture is universal. Then I started my architecture.

I worked with him; helped him on some projects. The main influence I got from him was when he told me that architecture is a mental invention, a free creation of the mind.

by Oscar Niemeyer

Genius Loci

An architect has a clear social task and is always part of the organization of society.
Since ancient times, someone did the hunting and someone made sure there was shelter,
The architect is a Robinson Crusoe today,
As in the past, you have to take possession of the location,
Understand the climate,
The atmosphere,
And the genius loci.
You must capture the spirit of that place in order to construct something beautiful and useful.

Architecture is at the edge,
Between art and anthropology,
Between society and science,
Technology and history,
Sometimes memory, too, plays a part.
Architecture is about illusion and symbolism, semantics, and the art of telling stories.
It is a funny mixture of these things.
Sometimes it is humanistic,
And sometimes it is materialistic.

by Renzo Piano

Hasegawa Tohaku's "Pine Trees"

Hasegawa Tohaku's (1539-1610) screen painting "Pine Trees" is one of Japan's most celebrated art works. It consist of a pair of six-fold screens, i.e., two six-piece paintings symmetrically positioned side by side, painted with powerful, dynamic brush stroke. In this work, we can find highly diverse yet always effective applications of white and emptiness.

First, the pine grove is constructed using a rough, even harsh brush technique, a manner of representing the real world that makes the trees seem more "real." This monotone painting gives the impression that the pine trees are depicted in much greater detail than is actually the case

"Pine Trees" inherited the legacy of the Southern Sung ink painting tradition, the quintessence of Chinese fine art. Chinese ink painting reached its peak during the Sung period, an achievement that can be compared to that of the European Renaissance. We can classify Sung painting into two styles, the Northern Sung and the Southern Sung. Unlike the detailed description of nature found in Northern Sung painting, the Southern Sung style delineates the bounflessness of empty space by blending the "subtle" and the "faint" while avoiding portraying structural forms in any detail. The technique of using emptiness to set the image free on pper was the crowning achievement of Southern Sung paintings. Not surprisingly, Tohaku's paintingbears some similarity to that of the Southern Sung painter Mokkei (Muqi, 1210-1269). Tohaku's provocative demonstration of empty space and emptiness is crystallized in "Pine Trees." It conveys the lively image of the trees by intentionally avoiding detailed description, an approach that activates the imaginations of its viewers. In short, the painting's very roughness and omission of details awaken our senses.

Haboku is oneof the ink painting techniques connected to this swift and harsh movement of the brush. Haboku is meant to enable viewers to imagine the landscape within an ever-changing nature; in short, it aims to help them expand their imaginations. Tohaku's screen painting is a prime example of how such images are constructed.

Secone, Tohaku's "Pine Trees" seems to emphasize the empty space between the trees rather the trees themselves. Perhaps we should say that the painstaking execution of the misty atmosphere is the main theme of the painting rather than the tree themselves. The pine look indistinct, being fused into the depth of whiteness. Far from signifying a state of nonbeing, the white empty space suggests the countless trees that stand behind the painted surface. The exquisitely dense atmosphere is filled with a subtle movement that leaves viewers' senses drifting in that space. Indeed, the painting's most important feature is the way its mists evoke the boundless, floating world of the imagination.

A sacred mountain is painted in white on the screen to the left, taking up two sections on its upper righ-hand portion; the feeling of distance is created by the use of the whitest white. It is left as empty space on the painted surface; yet it could also be said that the mountain is hidden behind the white mist. Here, the surrounding scenery, from the nearest to the most distant view, lies buried in the hazy ground. Despite its vagueness, our sense are drawn into that white space, where they are left to sway back and forth.

Japanese people have a high regard for this paradoxical expression of empty space in pictorial art and it has helped them develop an imaginative capability that moves far beyond natural descriptive detail. Tohaku's "Pine Trees" is one of the prototypes that shape and convey this aesthetic taste. As the Edo-period manual The Collection of Painting Techniques puts it, "When construed as part of a larger pattern, even white paper can be satisfying." In other words, an unpainted space should not be seen as an information-free area: the foundation of Japanese aesthetic lies in that empty space and a host of meanings have been built upon it. An important level of communication thus exists within the dimension we call "white."

by Kenya Hara

The Ten Commandments

Eventually it became all too clear. Despite ever harder regulations to promote sustainability the society moved in the opposite direction.

When buildings became more energy efficient, people got larger homes. When cars used less fuel, people traveled longer. As food became biologically produced people ate more, especially increasing their meat consumption. With improved recycling, consumption rose to new records. Consequently all good intentions and technological improvements where continuously nilled out by irresponsible behavior.

Soon the world leaders came to the only natural conclusion; what needed to be improved and regulated was human behavior itself. On the brink of catastrophe in a last effort to save the planet all members of the United Nations agreed upon ten commandments that would from that point enforce people to lead a sustainable lifestyle:

1. Thou shalt have no more than one child
2. Thou shalt not eat meat
3. Thou shalt not harvest earths resources in an unsustainable manner
4. Thou shalt only use renewable energy resources
5. Thou shalt only use locally produced goods
6. Thou shalt have an ecological footprint of a size that is sustainable for all humans.
7. Thou shalt not murder any beings
8. Thou shalt not spread toxics
9. Thou shalt not superinduce any substances, flora or fauna not naturally occurring in your habitat.
10.Thou shalt not dispose of unwanted possessions

Whether this last desperate effort was successful in halting the apocalyptic development remains untold.

Architectural Dreams
by KKA (Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The greatest mental construction of all
—the one that strikes me as being the most poetic—
Is the idea mankind has of a possible life after death.
To me it seems to have been the motor of the greatest architectural innovations.
All the great structures deal with the problem of death
—the pyramids, gothic architecture—
But at the same time,
I try to serve the object,
to become the object.
If museums are just places where things can be stored,
Then we dishonor objects.
An object has to find its place before it can live.

I see materials as letters we use to write our poetic thoughts.
We work with letters—an alphabet—we write a story.
The story and its structure are inseparable.
The poetic idea needs the support of structure to exist.

by Sverre Fehn

Imagination vs. Reality

I did a project and all that remains of it is a beautiful image.
No thanks.

What interest me in this business is building, making dreams pass into reality...
It’s only interesting when you get the impression you’re actually making contribution.
Taking part in a certain idea of the evolution of cities and—philosophically—in creating a certain future.
What it boils down to is that I could never have been an architectural artist.
I mean someone who sees architecture as an artwork activity, like Piranesi.
The thing that interests me is seeing the images that i design pass into reality.

by Jean Nouvel

The Process of Design

When I start a new job I like to walk around the site for a long time with my hands in my pockets,
Just going around...
By doing that you feel what happens...
You get away from the risk of being theoretical, of making something wrong...
You go to the site once, you go twice, then you go back.
You think, but you don’t draw.
You wait.
You start to build up your ideas,
And then you go back there.
And this is quite typical of my behavior.
I like to do that.

Architecture is about passion...
But you have to have enough lucidity in the passion to understand that something is wrong,
So you cannot fall in love with a specific solution or then you never come back.
You need the lucidity from time to time to look and to say no, that is wrong.

by Renzo Piano

We Start with Shapes, Sculptural Forms

The models are a way of studying. It is the way of working I feel most comfortable with. That is how I design.
I ask someone in my staff to start for me, they will bring it in, and then I will fold something here, cut something there. They will work on it some more and bring it in again. The model lets me have a dialogue with my staff.

And I make a value out of solving all those problems, dealing with the context and the client and finding my moment of truth after I understand the problem.
If you look at our process, the firm’s process, you see models that show the pragmatic solution to the building without architecture. Then you see the study models that go through, leading to the final scheme. We start with shapes, sculptural forms. Then we work into the technical stuff.

We agonize about every little part of it,
And I stare for hours
And then I move something just a little bit,
And I stare some more,
And then slowly it starts to take shape.

by Frank Gehry

Design Process

Periodically, during the process of a project, I take home the drawings and I need to concentrate not only on designing and sketching things, but on really knowing the building, really knowing the project. I have to be able to walk through the whole building mentally without looking at the drawings, you know?
I have to be able to sit and imagine walking through the building, going down each hall, entering the bathroom, washing my hands, going to the kitchen if it is a house.
But I make every effort to study the project as it develops.

by Alvaro Siza

Free-flowing, Sensual Curves

I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line—hard and inflexible—created by man.
I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves.

In architecture, as in any work of art, the most important thing is astonishment.
It is for a person to look and see that it is something different.
Architecture is all about curiosity.

Architecture is invention.
It must offer pleasure as well as practicality.
If you only worry about function, the result stinks.

by Oscar Niemeyer

Scale, Landscape, Human, And City

I think one must at all times refer to a simple starting point, be able to read the language of the landscape as precisely as possible, and be familiar with the dimension of body to obtain a human scale in one’s architecture.

Each material has its own shadow. The shadow of stone is not the same as that of brittle autumn leaf. The shadow penetrates the material and radiates its message. You converse with material through the pores of your skin, your ears, and your eyes. The dialogue does not stop at the surface, as its scent fills the air. Through touch, you exchange heat, and the material gives an immediate response. Speak to a stone and it gives resonance’s mystic. Speak to a mountain ledge, and it gives sound a mirror. Listen to a snow-covered forest, and it offers the language of silence. The great master in the use of wood as a material is a musical instrument maker. His ear gives each piece its dimension.

Human are not rational and logical—they are full or surprises, bizarre dreams, poetry, lies, and humor. Architecture must supply answer and create a dialogue with the people around it.

Cities have the strangeness, fear, the grand urban architecture, density, symbols, the difference between architecture and culture. And most of all, the city possesses a calmness. Out in the country it is never calm. There are fields to be tended, cows to be milked, chickens to be fed, but the city possesses a great calm and a sense of waiting, the city is a waiting room, the soldier that waits for his girlfriend, the sailor that waits for the arrival of the ship. Compared to this, nature is one great prison, and as a child I experienced nature itself confined in a prison.

Structure is my mode of expression, a language. It is like a poet who must weed out excesses to reveal the essence.

by Sverre Fehn

Site And Memory

A site possesses its own physical and geographical character; at the same time it has layers of memory imprinted on it.
I always listen to that whispering voice of given place.
I think of it comprehensively with all of its forces—the visible characteristics as well as the invisible memories to do with the interaction between a locality and humankind.
And I try to integrate these into my building which shall carry that spirit on to later generations.

by Tadao Ando

Architecture is Art

I was very interested in Antoni Gaudi because when I compared the building in real life to the photographs of this famous architecture I said this was like sculpture. In fact I think I was more interested in it as sculpture than as architecture. When I arrived and saw it with m own eyes, I saw that this sculpture was actually houses and had all of the elements of a regular house: doors, windows, baseboards. So this in a way opened the world of architecture up to me. Before I could see work as sculpture, but now I could see it as architecture.

by Alvaro Siza

What’s Still Left to be Done

Architecture for me has always begun with drawing. When I was very little my mother said I used to draw in the air with my fingers. I needed a pencil. Once I could hold one, I have drawn every day since.
When I have looked at the site for a building, considered its budget and thought of how it might be built, and what it might be, the drawings come very quickly.
I pick up my pen.
It flows.
A building appears.

I think that I entered school because I liked to draw. And drawing brought me to architecture.
I had my own ideas. I wanted a smoother architecture with more freedom, and that is what I did and still do. I think that in the end, intuition always prevails in architecture and art. The important thing is to want to do something.

by Oscar Niemeyer

Individual Expression

It really began with my mother taking me to see galleries
And to listen to music when I was a child.
She tried to exposed me to those kinds of things.
That was very personal,
And I think very important to me.
I still go very often.
I always go to concerts and listen to music, classical music.
I am not a scholar, but I am a fan.
I need that kind of inspiration.
I have continued to study art history on my own, wherever I go.

There certainly was not much theory.
We did not study theory.
I myself came at it from the arts,
And I was always interested in painting and sculpture.
I was different from the other architects in that way,
Although I did not realize it when I was a student.
I only realized that I was different later on my career.

by Frank Gehry


Style for me is something completely different. You can be, what we consider in our culture, unattractive and have great style. You can have no money and have great style. You can have a lot of money and have great style.
More often, you have a lot of money and have terrible style. You just plaster yourself with what you think you're supposed to be wearing, and you lost yourself.
Style for me is someone who figures out who they are, what works on them, what they feel good in and develops their character and the outer expression of their character.

by Tom Ford

Imaginative Principles

I think that in our design, what lies at the roots of everything are not just our desire to better solve the programs or come up with extraordinary space structures, but to go beyond them to eventually create imaginative principles of our own. It may be that when we are creating a building we are also trying to create the principles of the building at the same time.
For the time being, the method we are using is premised on the extremely modern idea of making the content of the building the human actions that take place within to kind of create the architectural form.


The Living Room of The Jacobs House

Having survive the entrance, our eyes adjust to the warm reflected light of amber pine and red concrete, a light that complements the cooler greens and blues outside. Clerestory windows relieve the insistent board and batten west wall to our right, a wall that is reinforced by bookshelves extending effortlessly from the battens behind. This suspended library piece terminates at its far end with a hovering desk that both locks into the corner, providing a transition from wood wall to a southern brick pier, and declares its independence, its horizontal surface floating free of the batten's steady measure. Bricks stabilize the head; their mass prevents the energetic movement of the unballasted wooden tail. Yet the bricks also stagger back and bend to provide a reading nook behind the desk, are punctuated by glazing that recapitulates the battens, and turn yet again into the landscape beyond with a final bow to the east wall's glazed doors. The solitary activities of family members enter the loose play of wood, brick, and glass within the measued field of battens and scored red floor.

by Michael Cadwell
Strange Details

The Columns of Farnsworth House

..., all the exposed steel connections at the Farnsworth House are plug welds. Plug welding is an elaborate process: steel erectors first drill the columns with holes at the beam connections and fit the columns with erection seats; they then place the perimeter beam on these seats, shim the beam level, and clamp it secure; next, welders plug the vacant column holes, fusing the column to the beam; and finally, finishers remove the erection seats and sand all surfaces smooth. Curiously, these connections require a sequence of operations that demand a high degree of craft, yet each operation disappears with the next. The mechanical craft of the seated connection disappears with the industrial craft of welding, the industrial craft of welding disappears with the handcraft of sanding, and the handcraft of sanding disappears with its own operation. There is no glorification of technology in this curious sequence, just as there is no remnant of craft. To underscore this, the steel fabricators brushed the steel's surface free of burrs and the finishers painted the steel with successive coats of flat white enamel.

by Michael Cadwell
Strange Details

The Bridge of Querini Stampalia

However, something stranger is happening. The bridge is eccentric; its crest is called out by an elliptical pin joint, the campo elevation clearly higher than our destination. Scarpa has subtly undercut this difference by eliding the connection of stone to steel, pulling up the campo border with Istrian steps rather than cleanly breaking to steel at the campo. The destination is stranger still: it is a window (not a door) through a wall (which is disintegrating) into what is clearly the basement of the palazzo. And the window frame, which we slam up againts, has a double door in it. These doors reintroduce steel, but in a different guise: cold, heavy, rusted stock is woven and grommeted with a penal vengeance. The door pinch us, yank us inward, and clang shut. With this sudden acceleration of effects, we are inside.

by Michael Cadwell,
Strange Details

The Spirit of Our Time

Each material has its specific characteristics which we must understand if we want to use it.
This is no less true of steel and concrete [than of wood, brick, and stone].
We must remember that everything depends on how we use a material, not on the material itself.

New Materials are not necessarily superior.
Each material is only what we make of it.

We must be as familiar with the functions of our buildings as with our materials.
We must learn what a building can be, what it should be, and also what it must not be.

And just as we acquaint ourselves with materials, just as we must understand functions, so we must become familiar with the psychological and spiritual factors of our day.
No cultural activity is possible otherwise; for we are dependent on the spirit of our time.

by Mies van der Rohe