“Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Architecture and poetry are two ancient disciplines that are deep-rooted in our cultures. Even civilizations are distinguished by them; both architecture and poetry each adding a different character, a distinct essence to the ethos of any said place or era. Some might argue that these two are very different from one another. That in fact, the two have no similarities between each other whatsoever.

While some might say that there is poetry in all the buildings that you walk past on your way to the supermart right in the middle of your mohalla or locality. Some might say that there is poetry in every nook and cranny, a poem was written on every brick and stone, and every door and window of a building is waiting to unravel a tale. 

All these walls have stories.

I am among the latter as well, a true believer that poetry is indeed infused in all the buildings that we inhabit or visit now and then.

Here in this article, we explore the similarities between architecture and poetry –

Nature 

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Many poets, from the past and the present alike are known to draw inspiration from nature to bring true meaning to their art, be it William Wordsworth or Robert Frost with their multiple poems centred around this wonderful planet, nature continues to spike the creativity of many poets.

With Biomimicry becoming more and more popular in the architectural industry, architects like Michael Pawlyn and Norman Foster come to mind, with their work heavily revolving around nature.

Structure, Proportion, Rhythm, and Balance 

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When one talks about poetry, one talks about stanzas and commas and pauses.

Sighs and exclamation marks.

There may or may not be a rhyme scheme. A piece of literature can be too lengthy at times or maddeningly short.

When one talks about poetry, one talks about structure, proportions, rhythm, and balance.

In architecture, proportion is something one uses to permeate feelings of depth and vastness, warmth, and comfort, rhythm is the path that the viewers’ eyes follow when led through a design.

There is a proper structure to our buildings, a certain balance, a union between areas of contrast and areas of harmony that they possess.  

Beauty 

What is poetry if not beautiful?

Poets find something beautiful and put it down in words, trying to replicate the beauty of it.

We find comfort in poetry, we find solace in poetry, we find relief in poetry, and what is more beautiful than that?

And what is architecture if not beautiful?

The term beauty might be something misconstrued, appropriated, corrupted, and subjected to contempt in the industry but it is part of architecture nonetheless.

Form 

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Poems can have complex forms. Poetic forms refer to the physical structure of the piece, how a poem sounds and looks like.

Forms, as we all know it, are imperative when it comes to designing something, be it a pavilion or a beach house. Forms dictate architectural designs.

Stance towards the environment 

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Our surroundings incite us to write poetry. Our environment is a huge part of the poetry that we write, it can be provoking or a source of inspiration. Such awareness of one’s environment can be seen in the works of Ruskin Bond.

Architecture is a response to the environment.

We walk through places and we walk through poems. There is a connection between walking and poetry, there is a connection between walking and our built environment.

If we are talking about architecture and poetry, it only seems fit to mention Le Corbusier. Who as we all know was not only a master architect, planner, designer but a writer as well. Who other than a true modern architect could have written the Poem of the right angle? Many architects are poets and writers as well and on the other hand, many poets are heavily inspired by architecture.

Architecture is poetic and poetry is architectured.=

One can learn immensely about the creative process of designing if they were to explore the processes and properties that pertain to the art of poetry.

Every great architect must necessarily be a poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age – Rightly said by F.L. Wright. 

The two art forms are similar because of their mindfulness to structure, use of scale, form, rhythm. Another striking similarity between both stems from the influence that we, the end-users, the readers, the designers, and the writers have on them. Both are so human-centric. 

Both poetry and architecture are the outcomes of our perceptions, our discernments, and insights. And all of these are then translated into a skyscraper, theatre or a museum or a sonnet, prose or poem perhaps.

Shreya Dubey
Author

Shreya is an architecture student in Delhi. If she is not busy with submissions, then you may find her sipping coffee in her balcony, buried in a novel. An avid reader, writer and artist, she considers herself an ambivert. Words can be powerful enough to change someone, she believes.

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