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Art and Architecture

The relationship between art and architecture had been a long debate ever since both these fields appeared. They are considered to be sources, titles, and interpretations of each other due to many variations of how and why they are used. Among an infinite number of questions, a few can be asked to discuss these particularly critical fields. Firstly, the debate can go on about their definitions and similarities. Then it should be asked whether one of these subjects can cover the other; is architecture an art or does art act as a built complex after all?

What is shared by architecture and art that they both consist of works that require specific methods and processes. To discuss these in a more detailed manner, the fact that most human-made compositions are results of the individual war against time. Time is considered one of the biggest enemies of humankind; it guarantees an end, disappearance, and oblivion. The escape from a physical end is surely far from reality. For this very reason, humankind came up with the idea to remain outside of their bodily existence and win their battle against time by leaving a mark for the following generations. Art, as it exists as a trial of remaining, consists of a great process of interpreting experiences from life itself. Maybe a war, maybe an inner debate, or maybe even the rise of the sun can be the subject of art. The point here is that what we call art has traces of an artist and an artwork that reaches some part of its observer.

Even though the end work sometimes has no trace of its origin, it still touches some part of its audience. This admiration that comes from a mysterious source is usually what makes an artwork called good or successful. Art, when it is no longer a part of its creator but an existing asset by itself, becomes a new extension of life. The landscape painting by an artist no longer depends on the landscape or the artist anymore; it takes its own place in existence. That makes this painting available to be experienced and interpreted as well.

Architecture on the other hand, is not primarily a trial to overcome the destructiveness of time. Instead, it emerges from the very instinct to survive. It occurs as the need of shelter. Architecture protects the individual from more current dangers such as cold and predators. Compared to art, architecture is prior in terms of survival. However, this fact does not limit architecture’s ability to stand against time and fight to remain. Contrarily, it gives the opportunity for a basic need to become a critical actor in humankind’s confrontation with time.

As a result of this primary-secondary need relation between art and architecture, their methods show high similarities. After architecture completes its first duty, which is providing shelter for humans, it becomes open to be a communication tool. Just like artwork, architecture beyond that point serves explanatory purposes. The word composition is enlightening in order to understand art and architecture’s similarities. Composition refers to the end works of both fields and etymologically refers to the product that occurs as the result of a composing, an assemblage act. Since composing is such a common word for both, what should be seen is how similar art and architecture approach this composing process.

Art and architecture aim to compose a new complex out of the existing data. When we talk about art, this existing data can be faces, nature views, and objects for painting, and photography. It can be observations, events, and descriptions for poetry. For architecture, on the other hand, the existing data, the raw material is human life and the environment it is placed in. The ‘human life’ here is referring to the required programs and scenarios. It is whether the complex should be; for dwelling or social activities, health, or production, etc. The ‘environment’ is the sum of the surroundings on the given site/ concept such as topography, weather, light, neighbors, and so on. Both art and architecture depend and grow on those terms called data (however they can be called; inspiration, source…). The processing of these ‘data’ does not differ for either field. Both art and architecture build complexes that are sums of various units. Those units are commonly known tools that are worldwide. Let’s take notes in music for example. They all belong to every single human in existence. Then they generate scales or chords; sums of certain notes that create a tone. These then are used as tools to express feelings, forming melody lines, complex sums of similar complexes such as lead, rhythm, and bass melody combinations. To introduce a medium of comparison these can be assimilated into architectural elements such as walls, windows, and doors. These are equivalent to notes in this example. Then we form rooms/ halls that are equivalent to scales/ chords. And the way we use these little sums as variations and repetitions with different combinations are what makes the end work a signature artwork. What makes a working artwork is its features in terms of the use of these materials and the materials’ sums, the originality of these combinations.

What makes these two fields comparable as disciplines is for sure, their approaches towards human life and their procedures. Both these fields depend on products or theorizations of the discussed products/ methods. If we see life as the sum of resources an artist/ architect uses to reach an end work, then it can be simply put into a scheme.

The scheme consists of how the information pieces that emerge from life itself take form as an art/ architecture work.

This very scheme can be used as a primary view of my 3D design of mine. The abstract model works the same way.

The 3D model is produced in order to reflect how art and architecture express life itself in similar classifications. Since these fields, are extensions of life itself: they are both creations of humankind. The model aims to reflect the four main types of any designed aspect;

1- Edgy/reactive

Those sorts of art/ architecture works are the ones that intend to stand out among their surroundings. They contain harsh decisions, reactive behaviors, and strong expressions they suggest. Zaha Hadid’s Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre is given as this type’s example since it stands against the continuity of the coastline and the orthogonal urban tissue that surrounds it. In art, however, protest genres of painting, and music can be seen as a similar sort. When someone sings about how cruel life is, they make a point on how their experience of life can be perceived as a negative aspect. These sorts of work always make their users/ audience question and criticize their surroundings.

2- Coherent/ mimicking

This sort of composition can be seen as the answer to the question: can life be duplicated? The projects that answer these questions usually pick an aspect of life, which is perceived as positive, and expand it by repeating its relation to the surroundings. The given example, which is the Waterfall House by Frank Lloyd Wright, is applying this principle to the topography’s horizontal axes. It is obvious that in nature, that horizontality is not the only aspect that is present. However, the end work underlines it so smoothly that the result is legible in a horizontal way. This can be exemplified by the emphasis on shapes in certain paintings. The composition falls in second place as the shapes are aiming to express the message.

3- Independent/ reflective

These sorts of products are often conceptual. They refer to certain aspects and they are applicable in most situations/ sites. Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation has the minimum area principle and is applicable to any site as a result to its relation to the ground. The use of that type of art can be seen in theatre texts. Some of the characters are portrayed with unrealistically exaggerated features. Even if they seem, as if they do not belong to our lives, they still address behaviors that all humans have.

4- Dependent /impactful

This sort of work is strongly site/ situation specific for they aim to affect the very site/ situation. TU Delft Library of Mecanoo does this to the ground. It deeply excavates and stands as a landmark there. The use of this in the art can be exemplified by Literary texts that let the reader decide on the ending. They let one decide still they impact the human mind by the absence of an ending to the plot.

As a general summary, the 3D models emerge from the very fact that both art and architecture aim for the survival of ideas through time. In light of this definition, the model groups both of these fields into four titles instead of dividing them to compare with each other.




I have always been fascinated by humankind’s ability to create. This is how I began studying architecture. To explore and produce architecture as a field that provides far more than constructs for humans is my ultimate goal. I wish for architecture, creativity, and design to be trusted and embraced as tools of communication.


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