“Architecture is concrete poetry and three-dimensional art.”
Creative communities like art, literature, and architecture thrive best when they are intertwined in terms of ideologies, content, and notions. There are multiple forms of art, among which literature is considered to be the fundamental one. Literature is living proof through which we accurately understand our past. Art is a form of reflection, a medium to convey emotion and form connections that eventually create communities. 

Architecture is the art applied in a three-dimensional form that addresses our social demands. Art is a means of knowing our journey through centuries how we have evolved and reached where we are. Hence it is not surprising that as different fragments of a single beehive they are linked to one another and impact one another. Centuries are categorized into eras that are defined by certain elements that bring out a commonality through the years of the particular era out of which art movements play a vital role. 

Art movements are when artists with similar ideas and beliefs come together to create visual and tangible entities that inadvertently create harmony at the same time reflect the society’s norms during that period utilizing the best of resources. They helped us understand different eras through a visual medium.

Structural and Visual influences

Art and literature have been exemplary influences on architecture in more than one way. The perspective with which any artist approaches any one of these mediums will be a little similar to the goals they try to achieve are the same.

They want to evoke a sense of emotion. An artist, a writer, and an architect want to make a person feel something when he/she looks at a painting, reads a book, or stands in space. The emotion they want to provoke or the way they want to achieve them might be different, but they share some values and ideologies that influence one another. 

There may be direct and obvious influences such as overlapping of terminologies of literature and architecture. Terms like space, alignment, form, structure, theme, concept, and parts have found their place and play a central role in both the above fields.

Whereas when we look at art and architecture, they share common design principles that help in creating visually pleasing works as they both comprise a variety of similar elements that make one whole design like line, color, shape, etc. The shared principles include balance, harmony, movement, contrast, hierarchy, emphasis, golden ratio, etc.,

How art and literature influence the design and architecture of its era? - Sheet1
Elements and Principles of design © sites.google.com

Thematic and era-based influences

Architecture also finds itself affected by art and literature in other ways. When you consider one of the iconic creations in the world of all time, the Sistine chapel, the emotion they intend to bring out was spirituality and religion. They accomplished that by infusing works of art in the interior ceiling that comprised the nine stories from the ‘book of genesis’ that is a form of literature.  It is thereby evident how they affect one another, and when unified under a single theme, the result is larger than life. 

When you consider the works of art, literature, and architecture of a single era, thus a single art movement, they exhibit resemblances. For example, the nineteenth century was described as the era of neoclassicism. The influences were widely drawn from Greek and Roman antiquity at the time of the rediscovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii. This era was the starting point of the middle class, known as the ‘age of enlightenment’.

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The Sistine Chapel © apollo magazine

Social and Communal influences

The age of enlightenment was a result of the intellectual and philosophical movement that took place during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The world was dominated by ideas that were shared through various forms of literature such as journals, pamphlets, and books. This was also the explosion of print culture. The ideas shared included a variety of topics such as liberty, constitution, separation of church, and state among many.

To have a place to get people together and to share these ideas there were creations of a public sphere that was an easily accessible and open urban public space

Art during this period focussed on rationality, clarity, and sobriety as more artists started to believe that art needs to be cerebral than sensual which was a result of literary awakening that happened through print in public sphere buildings. Through this, it is clear how architecture, art, and literature bring people together and enable radical changes in terms of beliefs and ideologies, and also how they influence one another.

How art and literature influence the design and architecture of its era? - Sheet3
The era of enlightenment © wikipedia.org
How art and literature influence the design and architecture of its era? - Sheet4
Neoclassical art © identify this art

Technical influences

The art sector has branched into many things in the light of technological advances and so have the influences. The arena of digital art is booming and is creating a niche of its own in the field of architecture that has come a long way with the help of multiple art soft wares to aid our ideas and bring them to reality. Further literature has helped architects and designers share ideas and perceptions of various buildings, that may or may not be visible to the naked eye, to understand them better and know their significance.

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Digital art © techwagera

As culture changes so do our likes on art, literature, and architecture. Earlier it was all about grandeur, ornamentation whereas now we are brought into the concept of less is more, minimalism, sustainability, and more real theories. Our environment affects our societal norms; they, in turn, influence our ideas which influence the literature shared that inspire art, and eventually, it is reflected in our architecture that revolutionizes the way we live.


Kamalavinayagam is a passionate designer and a self-taught writer whose interests also include films, food and music. She is an avid learner who is here to research, analyze and understand different fields of design and provide her take on how they influence the world.

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