Reflection on How Architects Have Become More Visually Aesthetic in the Past 100 Years

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In this essay I will be looking into the aesthetic of architects and their architectural buildings over the past 100 years. The reason why I am looking at the aesthetic of architecture is because it is an amazing example of how we as a species document aesthetic and ‘modernism’. I will be looking at architectural illustrations and sketches of buildings that have been created to see how they differ in style and ideas. I will also be looking into different architects through different periods of time to see if the mindset of these induvial was set due to the period of time they were in. My overall goal is to find out how we perceive aesthetic through something so important as architecture and that looking into this topic will help me further with my illustration studies.

The reason why I am looking into this topic is because of how I can use this information to make my work in illustration more efficient and aesthetic. Architecture, although different from Illustration, can have very important links through aesthetic! Illustrations are vital in order to envision buildings and concepts as without it, it is much harder to see how possible an idea is and how well it will be perceived by the public in which it will be seen by. I concluded that art is to use one thing to create another. With design, we use it to create with an aim in mind. I hope to expand this knowledge further through this exploration of this essay topic.

Architecture is an extremely important part of humanity as a whole as without it the human race be unable to function at the efficiency that it does today. The design’s purpose is to place functionality above all else to create a sustainable product while art can be way of expressing ourselves without the need of being sustainable at all and is a great way of creating new jobs and markets. Although design may be much more useful in fields such as architecture, the use of both art and design has helped us evolve the way in which we eat, sleep, cook and our overall quality of life and cultures around the world.

A notable ‘modern-day’ architect that has transcended design would be a woman named Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid. She is an Iraqi-born architect that was the first woman to with the Pritzker Architecture which speaks of her success and recognition as a designer. She was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture. She passed away in March 2016. Hadid was known to London as the 'Queen of the curve', her designs are graceful and posed as she uses bold shapes/curves to make a truly unique style that she was known for. Her design philosophy is thought-provoking in the sense of how it’s meant to feel modern and new compared to traditional architecture. The reason why I believe her aesthetic is notable and speaks volumes on what people believe a building should be in a more modern-day aesthetic.

The Riverside Museum, located of the Glasgow is a museum that displays a variety of items of all different shapes and sizes. The architecture and Interactive displays are hugely popular as they bring the objects and stories to life. This building shows an array of curves, shapes and positions that make it look as though it is as intricate as a piece of jewelry, something that is normally not thought about when you think about a museum. It suits its purpose, as it is a museum that is meant to attract people with curiosity to look inside to see the exhibitions. What I find interesting about this building is how it almost looks like a race track due to the way in which it bends and contorts. I also noticed how the windows on the front of the building open up the inside of the building with natural light. It’s definitely something that is intriguing and mysterious compared to what most people would think a museum looks like, such as the Natural History Museum in London.

The Capital Hill Residence is a private dwelling located in Russia and to me it is by far one of Hadid most intriguing designs. This design differs from what her aesthetic normally entails. When it comes to the aesthetic of this building and how it was designed, it’s clear that there are less curves melding and contorting into each other and more sharp, edged corners then the Riverside Museum that I was looking into. Despite the change in aesthetic slightly Hadid has retained the elegance and poise which she was known for. What I think is interesting about this design is how the levels are unique. Some levels are on top of each other while some of completely separate, such as the highest level which is completely in the air while the lowest is underground. I think the design is both unquiet and timeless, yet good at preserving and imbedding the nature around it, as it was said in the brief that it had to merge with the hillside and have a view of the forest around it.

Zaha Hadid’s creative process was one that was very creative and full of expression! I have come to understand the mediums she used through an online article on ‘Archdaily’. According to the article, her first early inspirations were made light by the artist called Kazimir Malevich, which led her to use mediums such as paint as an architectural tool since the time when she was a student. She also used other mediums for inspiration, like graphic design and sketches with charcoal and pencil. The way she forms her sketches shows that she puts together some of her concepts and ideas in a ‘spur of the moment’ type of setting.

What knowledge I have taken from exploring the design of some of Hadid’s completed buildings and assessing how their aesthetic fits in with the space around them while retaining the unique posed curves and layouts is truly inspiring. It shows to me that I can mold an aesthetic to suit the requirements necessary while still being eye-catching and appealing! I idolize how she uses designs in such a range of mediums that wouldn’t be considered when designing ideas. I also like way she sketches and how she uses curves to accentuate and illustrate the buildings as though it is made out of intricate materials such as ribbons or jewelry. Studying Zaha Hadid’s illustrations has helped me to understand that I should be sketching down more of my ideas ‘on the spur of the moment’ type of way as those ideas can be useful later to explore!

Another architect I believe has made waves of improvement and exploration in architectural design is Frank Gehry. Gehry is an architect famously known for creating intriguing postmodern designs such as the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall. Gehry moved to Los Angeles in 1949 while attending college and graduated at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture. During this time that he would change his surname, Goldberg, into the surname Gehry as it was an effort to preclude anti-Semitism. What is engaging about his style of work is its abstract nature and looks as though someone has crushed a building into an array of shapes that we would never think could be possible for a building to make. It’s so ‘different’ and unique it makes the buildings around it look like they’re from a different world.

Frank Gehry has produced many buildings that are thought provoking and innovative, but this is definitely one that he will be remembered for. This is the Vitra Design Museums and it is internationally renowned for design. This museum is located in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The museum is a place at its highest prospect when it comes to the history of design. Yet it also embraces modernism, which is why Frank Gehry’s architectural style has been used for the building’s aesthetic. What I find fascinating about this building is how the architect has implemented sharp corners while blending them together with subtle curves, giving the building that look of uniqueness. The aesthetic suits the overall purpose of the build, which is to display design at its finest! and how it is a message in itself. I’ve also noticed that when the day moves on, the shadows even mold the building into something new, which is absolutely intriguing, as it shows this building has been thought about a lot and is meant to be seen with everyday elements alongside it. Gehry has put a twist on this building by creating such an iconic piece, which is why it is one of my favorite buildings that he has designed. People tend to be drawn to something that is new and unique-looking and the Vitra Design Museum certainly is one that creates an atmosphere.

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Gehry’s creative process is clearly very messy and done quickly as the sketches, like how I found with Zaha Hadid’s sketches, are done in a ‘spur of the moment manner. In the documentary ‘Sketches of Frank Gehry’, he’d go on to say how he would clean his desk and how he’d be scared that he wouldn’t know what to do with a project. This to me shows how he begins this creative process with a clear theme and aesthetic in mind while still retaining free flowing designs which can be seen in Gehry’s work consistently throughout the years. Within the interview in the documentary, he goes on to make a sketch model out of silver paper, bending, crumpling and cutting the edges and fixing them together with sticky tape, editing and fussing over what should bend and what should correlate. From looking at his work, it's clear I can use his style to understand how structure of a form such as a building is made while still looking stylistic. The way Gehry goes on about his creative process is both captivating and eye-opening as he has thought of ways of expressing his work that I never thought of, which is exiting! The illustrations he creates are meant to be rough looking as this aesthetic is heavily inspired my rough and messiness.

I do admire how Frank Gehry has used different shapes and forms to mold his buildings in his iconic style. The form of his designs is iconic, yet never look the same when compared to each other. From what I can gather, Gehry uses both the environment around him and the one he produces with his to creativity truly unique designs. I’ve also found his sketches to be more focused on creating an intriguing idea through the messiness of his surroundings, which compared to Zaha Hadid relies on the softness of her aesthetic rather than extreme bold shapes.

Philip Johnson was a renowned, award-winning architect that was born in July, 1906 in Ohio of the United States. He came out of collage at Harvard University in 1930 with a degree in philosophy. Despite not being a normal route that architects come from it does speak volumes about his aesthetic and work ethic. He then went on to named director of the Department of Architecture in the Museum of Modern which was in New York. His work has been inspired by a number of historic periods and from his aesthetic/concepts we have shifted how we see contemporary architectural design. It was Philip Johnson who won the very first Pritzker Architecture Prize, a prize that that Zaha Hadid has been given that I have previously discovered which shows just how talented he was during his career. He has also received a Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects during his career. He sadly died in January, 2005.

The Glass House was built between 1949 and 1995 and is considered to be one of the United States greatest architectural landmarks to have existed. Comparing his sketching style to that of Frank Gehry he seems very traditional in the way ideas are clearly constructed and concepts are shown in full capacity yet even when he uses traditional techniques, he is still able to create breath-taking postmodern architecture.

Overall, I believe that Philip Johnson was an architect that was able to transcend how we look architecture and how he was able to be inspired to create new concepts though historic and philosophic ideas. His aesthetic is inspiring due to how he is able to be intricate while still retaining that ‘modern’ flare do some of his buildings that have almost stood tall for a decade.

Frank Lloyd was an American born in the 1860s in Wisconsin. When he left college at the University of Wisconsin, he then became an assistant to another famous architect called Louis Sullivan. After is experience with Sullivan, he then decided to create his very own business and lead to the creation of the Prairie style which set a tone of ‘organic’ designs for homes and commercial buildings. Over his career he created numerous iconic buildings and has completed over 500 buildings during his career! He passed away during in the spring of 1950s.

The Hollyhock House that Frank Lloyd designed was a dwelling built from early 1920’s. The home was the first commission Wright produced in Los Angeles. The residence was designed for a woman named Aline Barnsdall. Barnsdall wanted the aesthetic of the house as the main attraction as an Artist home in the area she lived in. When it came to the construction of the build, it was controlled by his son, Lloyd Wright. This to me shows just how much time and effort he was willing to invest in ideas and concepts for this project. However, despite being able to create three of the buildings, due to ‘intense’ differences in what each other wanted for the aesthetic of the build they decided to cease creating any more architecture together. In 1927, due to Barnsdall rarely living in the residence, she decided to donate the Hollyhock property to the City of Los Angeles so it could be used for artistic purposes. What I have found from looking into this amazing piece of architecture is that Lloyds style it a lot more closed in and that the form of the building is meant to be intricate and repetitive. This is a theme that is consistent throughout his aesthetic.

The overall conclusion of this assessment is whether or not architects have become more aesthetic over the past 100 years. I have found that the need for a mix of functionality and creativity has been present throughout my research. I have found that the structure and intricacy of buildings is what was changing and evolving the most as the buildings came closer to the present day. Frank Lloyds need for intricate spires and detailed tile walls are vastly different when comparing him to Zaha Hadid’s obsession for light and curvature within her buildings. As time has moved on, architects have become more expressive with how the composition plays a part of the building charm and creating abnormal shapes and curves.

What I’ve found particularly interesting about this exploration of this topic is the nature of the illustrations and sketches I have found though these Architects. The more modern architects I have a ‘looser’ approach to sketching their ideas. An example of this would be Frank Gehry uses his messy workspace to inspire him to create his aesthetic for the building he produces. Some designers such as Philip Johnson uses the past and historical events to inspire his post-modernism work!

What I have taken from this essay is that I can use what I’ve learnt to further extend my abilities and work ethic in my illustration course due to how these amazing and inspiring designers have created an aesthetic that has taken their careers to great lengths while having to sacrifice certain aspect. I will definitely be using what I have learnt in the future.

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Reflection on How Architects Have Become More Visually Aesthetic in the Past 100 Years. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from
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