Architecture aims to inspire. Since art generally reflects man’s spiritual state in time, architecture must always consider the psychological and emotional impact it would have on a community.  However, the spiritual elevation of design has been deprived in modern times as if producing buildings without soul. The 20th-century architectural landscape has been crushed by so much functionalism – much logic and utility that creativity in a holistic design is sacrificed. This practice is a threat to architecture and has to be reconsidered, even in small spaces. 

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Inspiring Architecture_©30daysreplay_Social_Media_Marketing

Mexican architect Luis Barragan emphasised that a space’s quality can affect the end-users. The use of different spaces is meant to calm, energise, uplift, and create a positive impact on one’s well-being. Emotional architecture, as he coined it, triggers the sensitivity of the end-users to how they perceive a space. These experiences allow them to meditate and reflect, potentially leading to a deeper appreciation of life. Barragan wrote that colours, light, and shadows play a vital role in achieving a unique and memorable ambience. 

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Casa Barragan_©

Colours: It is hard to imagine a life deprived of colour. The use of colour variations affects human perception in different ways. For instance, a colourful motif is inappropriate for small workplace spaces since it leads to negative appraisal. But applying such a strategy in the broader area can yield a different result. Colour applications communicate feelings like blue for sadness and red for hotness or even allow instructional communication, such as the stop lights and pedestrian strips. It helps organise and bring order. Ultimately, colours help set the mood of spaces. The right ambience creates a comfortable and pleasing environment for the end users. 

Casa Barragan, for instance, displays a magnificent play of colours. Occupying an area of 1,161 square meters, this dramatic concrete building showcases Barragan’s poetic approach to design by utilising different shades that strike a unique ambience – utilising modern and traditional artistic and vernacular elements. Considered a magnum opus in modern architecture, the Luis Barragan House and Studio represent an innovative architectural style with a modern twist. 

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Casa Barragan Interior Space_©James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

Light. The design is complete with proper lighting. Whether daylighting or artificial, good lighting amplifies the experience felt in space. This is because light highlights small details in textures, colours, and forms of space which makes impactful experiences. Since it enhances how people perceive architecture, lighting should be planned properly. The amount of light penetrating a space is vital to achieving the design intent and should be carefully considered. 

Shadows. Just like good lighting, shadows can embellish, foil, and even enhance a subject. It adds a certain depth and character to the space resulting in a unique experience. Proper shade in a space strengthens the architectural theme and landscape. It will effectively provoke people’s minds, making people observe the artistic conception of the space, which the design motif intended to express in an in-depth manner. 

Tadao Ando carefully integrated lighting into the renowned Church of the Light design in Japan. This architecture showcases Ando’s philosophical framework by integrating nature and architecture by using natural lighting to highlight a dramatic interior space experience. He explains that light contributes to new spatial perceptions. As light penetrates the interior spaces, shadows are cast to create a dramatic contrast, a dual nature of existence – light and dark, uniting into a serene space. 

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Church of Light Interior Space_©
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Dramatic Cast of Shadow and Light in the interior space_©shio-yang
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another perspective_©shio-yang

Form. A great form positively gives a good experiential space for people. Gaining knowledge about form help contribute to a signature design. The resulting architecture then becomes a metaphor that is relatable to a community. The use of form is the tool necessary to strike a statement and convey a meaningful message. 

Heydar Aliyev establishes a fluid relationship between its surrounding plaza and the building’s interior. Its dynamic form is inspired by a handkerchief billowing in free fall, creating a unique architectural shape. Pritzker awardee Zaha Hadid created this monumental landmark as a symbol of modern Baku. Not a single straight line is used in this design, signifying the eternal cycle of past, present, and future uniting into the structure. The birth of this architecture created a whole level of civic space for the city. 

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Heydar Aliyev Exterior Perspective_©shio-yang
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Close-up view of Heydar Aliyev©Aleksey-nikitin
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Interior Space_©

Texture. One of the primary roles of design is to trigger emotion. The use of texture help intensifies the visual of space, hence achieving this objective. Textures stimulate a tingling sensation that corresponds to how one sees a space. It enhances both the optical and tactile elements in any architectural space given. 

Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Battlo features a Montjuïc sandstone finish with large irregular arches harmoniously integrated into the existing framework. A medley of materials was used in the façade, showcasing a creative mosaic pattern. The roof makes use of ceramic tiles meticulously arranged to resemble dragon scales. This stunning architecture is an example of the Art Nouveau movement evoking emotional connection from passers-by. 

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Casa Battlo_©Florencia Dalla Lasta
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Serpent-like scale roof_©
Dramatic Lighting_©theodor-vasile

In the modern world, where a sense of isolation is created through the rise of the digital era, architects and designers are encouraged to acquire a more profound strategy in conceptualising designs. One that values the use of space to a transcendental level despite the technical limitations. 

“All architecture, which does not express serenity, fails in its spiritual mission. Thus, it has been a mistake to abandon the shelter of walls for the inclemency of large areas of glass.”- Luis Barragan. 


Charu Suri (2017b). Inside the Rise of Emotional Design. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022].

Savavibool, N. and Moorapun, C. (2017b). Effects of Colour, Area, and Height on Space Perception. Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal, 2(6), p.351. doi:10.21834/e-bpj.v2i6.978.

TCP Lighting. (2019). The Importance of Architectural Lighting – TCP Lighting. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022].

Tang, H., Que, Y., Zhang, Z. and Li, Q. (2019a). The Inspiration of Light and Shadow on Design. E3S Web of Conferences, 79, p.01019. doi:10.1051/e3sconf/20197901019.

Kroll, A. (2011). AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando Architect & Associates. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: [Accessed 8 Dec. 2022].

Shah, D. (2021). A look back at Antoni Gaudi’s bold and magical design for Casa Batllo in Spain. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Dec. 2022].


John Victor Gonzaga is a young architect practicing in the Philippines. He is a highly driven and motivated man especially when it comes to his creative pursuits. He enjoys exploring anything related to the abstract arts; few other interests include writing, painting, reading, music and travel.