UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATING ARCHITECTURE
TO RECAPITULATE: In Talk-V we figured out that the PRINCIPLES are fundamental unchanging truths that go by the names of Balance, Harmony, Proportion, Scale, Rhythm, and Unity.
BALANCE is visual equilibrium.
HARMONY is fundamental to all forms of Creativity as it produces a unity of effect or an organic whole, which gives aesthetic pleasure.
PROPORTION and SCALE are interrelated as both deal with the problems of sizes and their relationships with one another.
SCALE in Architecture has two extremes: Human and Monumental. It is easy to identify oneself with Human Scale because of its friendliness. Monumental Scale is used to awe the spectator, and exploits Architecture’s power to create unforgettable visual impact for obvious reasons.
RHYTHM is the measure of time or movement by regularly recurring impulses, sounds, etc., as in music. It is the measured motion, which, by regular recurrence, produces delightful patterns of sight (as in architecture), or of sound (as in music).
Of all the principles, RHYTHM is the most fundamental as it is the only single principle found in all Forms of Creativity, their mediumistic eccentricities notwithstanding.
The Order and Harmony of the Cosmos is sustained by the heartbeats which Rhythm creates in the souls of stars, planets, and all forms of living matter RHYTHM in Dance is Audio-Visual; in MUSIC, it is Audial; in ARCHITECTURE, it is Visual but apparent [not actual]! Unless Poetry is recited the music intrinsic to it by the presence of metre will not manifest—and it will come off as a bland, prosaic thing!
UNITY is the quality or fact of constituting a complex, systematic undivided whole so as to create an impression of being one as complete-in-itself. Unity is a plural, implying the presence of a minimum of two components.
The goal of ARCHITECTURE is to transform our awareness from Separation to UNITY. In UNITY we perceive only divine power, express only love and freedom.
UNITY lies in the organisation of parts by which objects otherwise unrelated are so placed that the mind loses sight of them as separate entities, and notes only the resulting composition as an Organic (i.e., seemingly seamless) Whole.
So fundamental is the PRINCIPLE of UNITY that scarcely any other quality is needed for excellence in a work of Creativity.
A unique quality of UNITY, which has hitherto been ignored, is that, in a Work of ART, even destruction must be represented as construction (i.e., as a composition of constituent parts carefully selected from out of the junk-yard randomness of the debris of destruction!)
OBJECTIVES are clearly if we first consider the basic function of Architecture, which is to create SHELTER for the multifarious activities of human beings.
This function has two aspects: UTILITY, and AESTHETIC.
- Architecture must fulfil the needs for which it is created (UTILITY), and must be a sublimation of sensory, perceptive, and cognitive experience (AESTHETIC).
- Architecture, as Built Environment, must create ORDER that is one of its chief Objectives. The other are: TRUTH, BEAUTY, and GOODNESS.
- Insofar as Architecture is concerned, Nature is the best known embodiment of such Fundamental Principles which inspire, inform, and organise Human Creativity.
However, to appreciate this not-too-obvious-fact you have to have a holistic vision, not a biased view of architectural creativity; otherwise, you will gravely err just as the famous Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi had done in his over-enthusiasm to write a romantic Urdu poem. Unfortunately, this verse on the Taj Mahal has become famous belittling its splendorous value as the Seventh Wonder of the World. I have penned my Urdu rejoinder to Sahir’s mistaken evaluation of Taj.
Sahir ko husn-i-Taj dikhayi na de saka
Kuchh aisa fikr-i- muflasi mein mubtila hua
Saada see baat uskee samajh mein na aa saki
Hai seem-o-zar se baala mahabbat ka martaba
Sahir couldn’t discern the Beauty of Taj
So engrossed was he in thoughts of Poverty
This simple truth escaped his poetic grasp
That Love from Wealth enjoys total Liberty
Beauty is the splendour of Truth, of Order, of Form.
Truth is the apprehension and expression of the Ultimate Reality to achieve accuracy of adjustment or conformity to inviolate PRINCIPLES. Goodness is the aesthetics of character—a spontaneous, undistorted, qualmless expression of the inner person: unpolluted by the dross of mundane life. Something is good when it promotes health, welfare, or happiness.
When you transfer human benevolence to its origin, GOD becomes good, with the insertion of an additional “o” that stands for outstanding ordinariness
Utility is fitness for perfect use. Utility is the power to satisfy the wants of people in general. It gives one the all-important insight into the ultimate scheme of things that nothing that exists is without use, for the cosmos is an active conglomerate composed of, and sustained by, interrelationships, interdependences, and interactions.
Though Architecture primarily seeks to provide SHELTER, it faces its own intrinsic challenge to design it in such a manner that it fits like a glove the unique requirements of each Building-Type among a vast variety of functions without creating environmental anarchy.
The following examples illustrate this special property of Architecture as the Art and Science of Building Design:
STYLES OF ARCHITECTURE
Just as there is a vast variety of Building-Types, Architecture has produced many fascinating Styles throughout the course of history—each shaped by a complex of religious beliefs, climate, social custom, resources, building materials, construction techniques, patrons’ whims, architects’ notions, etc.
I urge YOU, dear readers, to contemplate the examples on this and the following pages in the light of the ELEMENTS, PRICIPLES, and OBJECTIVES of ARCHITECTURE discussed before. Such an exercise will help you understand the subject much better, so much so that a continuing passion for learning about architectural design would open your perception of the Objective World manifest in its myriad forms and how they are related to one another. Above all, it will awaken your own native creativity to the point of knowing that it is intrinsically the urge for communication that inspires humans to aesthetic appreciation, which eventually gives birth to individual artistic creation.
Being a theist or an atheist or an agnostic wouldn’t prevent you from experiencing the ineffable joy of discovering that myriad-faceted creativity has its origin within your own inmost being. Above all, it is everyone’s divine endowment to discover the beauty and bounty of Mother Nature and to express it through the medium of the great Mother Art, ARCHITECTURE, is to be in touch with the mesmeric marvel and magnificence of all Humanity as soul’s fragrance in your breath!