Hermann Minkowski states that “Space and time are likely to disappear like shadows when they are held separately.”

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To make an architectural piece of work sustain through ages and years to come, we fellow architects consider timeless architecture as a solution. What does it take to make one’s work to be timeless? And, the answer is, Timelessness in architecture can be defined in various possible ways. 

Timelessness can significantly explain the solidarity and strength of the building; Certain materials like stone, concrete are looked upon for their qualities of not getting deteriorated quickly and their easiness to work with. Though they undergo mild changes, due to the action of environmental conditions, moreover adding a new feel of texture to the façade and refining its character.

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Integrating nature in design_©https://pravdaarchitecture

After a period of time, it’s the nature of the material to deteriorate and fall in the ground. So, if a building has a shorter lifespan or deteriorates after a time doesn’t mean it can claim itself to be timeless because timelessness in architecture does not go with a time frame. The main attribute of a timeless work revolves around exhibiting the explorations of both visual and architectural traits to go hand in hand with each other and making a better habitat for the society while leaving the time to test the functional resonance of the space.

Understanding history

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Poblet Monastery of Santa Maria_©http://www.catalonia-valencia.com/unesco-heritage-sites-catalonia

The ancient Greeks have synthesized the importance of following order, scale and proportion in a design. Matila Ghyka, a renowned mathematician and a philosopher, has found that the golden rectangle proportions have made a person naturally recognize a design through cognition. The squares in the Fibonacci series are visually directed to the eye without drawing them manually too. 

Timeless designs make use of natural proportions and golden sections to define their nature. Vitruvius follows proportioning in relation to the human body as mentioned in his Ten books of architecture. His category of defining timelessness attributes goes by order, arrangement, eurhythmy, symmetry, economy and propriety.

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The use of golden sections and proportioning were being followed throughout architectural history, plus architects and designers have familiarised themselves with considering one-third or two-third relationships when it comes to proportion. At almost all times, defining the qualities of timelessness has been imbibed, from within the designs, which we most often never tend to identify.

Aspects contributing to a timeless design

Many scholars and scientists have jointly formulated criterias which would help us follow them as examples, for a better understanding of the concept. Timeless designs are human’s perceptions put together without overriding certain aspects which are mentioned below.

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Darkness and light in the field

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Ramanathaswamy Temple_©https://coolwallpapers.me/3110702-architectural-design_architecture_brick-walls_building_city_columns_dark_depth-of-field_eerie_hallwa

The depth of the field for a space plays a vital role because one cannot exist without the other. In the olden architectural era, we have been practising using more natural light, as it was their only light source available at that time. It is the natural light from the sun’s rays, which brings back space to life. The reveal of the timeless character is visible to one who observes and experiences the darkness play on the lights spread.

Wear and tear

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Dairy at Mehsana_©https://timeline.com/brutalist-architecture-history-558c890ceeca

The weathering is a factor that defines the process of the building’s nature getting aged in respect to time. The building’s intimacy gets levelled up more, refining its textural form giving more essence. The building’s effect on weathering defines the building’s character as its giving function. The building functional behaviour gets more relatable and defined over time.

Workmanship as a process

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Ankor Wat temple_©https://blog.shantitravel.com/en/thematic-travel/adventure-discovery/comprehensive-guide-for-visiting-the-angkor-wat-temple.htm

The effortlessly ageing character of a workpiece began upon a time from being a huge mass of rock that was sculpted with much care and details to bring in the life to the inanimate object. Thus, the process of its travel through the bounds of time unravels a new journey of appreciating the craftsmen or the responsible person for having his eye for detail without compromising on human defects. 

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Imperfections may come and go, signifying the richness of life exhibited through art and architecture gives the timeless character of the piece to come into play.

Haptic sense

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Valencia Cathedral_©https://www.shuttledirect.com/blog/vibrant-valencia-just-one-day/

Every space has its own textural quality which makes the user relate their experience with the place. The haptic quality of space creates a picturesque vision and develops a closer bond with the space making it a timeless piece. The keen observations and interactions with space can make one communicate with the space.

Wholeness in design

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Lotus temple_©https://www.pandotrip.com/the-lotus-temple-a-blossom-of-inspiring-architecture-in-india-12784/

Wholeness is an integral part of a design that makes the user sense and understand the space without getting confused about decoding the space. The sense of wholeness in a design shouldn’t be overdone by adding inadequate details to the design, moreover deteriorating the character. When the architectural work is finite and measurable to one’s eyes, it allows the users to visualize the completeness of the space by adding in the timeless feel to the place.

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Monumentality

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Pyramids of Menkaure, khafra and khufu_©https://www.chegg.com/flashcards/ancient-egyptian-art-and-architecture-bac494e7-bcd7-4625-84d8-497d1b1ae035/deck

Monumentality in architecture is a unique feature that grabs the user’s attention towards the architectural marvel. The clear vision to perceive the work is the monumental quality that makes the work go timeless. The fabric that weaves the monumentality in the piece, in particular, is a representation of the human aspirations during the era. When it captures the user’s attention, it brings in the feeling of pride or warmth to the person, and this feeling proves the work to be timeless, and one cannot measure it with one’s quantity.

Human scale

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Egg-cellent_©https://www.factinate.com/places/23-ingenious-architectural-marvels/

Human scale is the architectural quality that allows the user to experience the physical setting of the space. The approach and the warmness it offers the person to relate with oneself is one among the numerous qualities which define the work to be considered as a whole. Thus, the connectivity between the user and the space grows wider, connecting oneself as a whole.

Water

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Deeg water palace_©https://ceoworld.biz/2020/04/16/top-10-architectural-wonders-built-on-the-water/

Water plays a crucial role in architecture as it brings in the contrast between the hard surfaces and wings in the tenderness to the space, making one experience joy and rejuvenation through it. Water has the sensitive quality of making oneself to relate with the ground and thus anchoring their mind to be hinged with the present, making it timeless.

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Cohesion

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Architecture has a quality of imbibing the cohesiveness with the building and surroundings to achieve unity, thus relating with the cultural context. The cohesive quality integrates the space with the surroundings, plus giving us a better idea to understand the people’s lifestyle and relate themselves with the past and the present. Zumthor refers that, “Certain buildings merge themselves with the surroundings, making them a part of it.” 

Likewise, it is pivotal to note the timeless quality of a space does not necessarily depend upon the qualities, yet it is perceived as these characters help them to perceive it easily. We can ensure that the timeless quality flows when one’s heightened visual perspectives are utilised to view the space. 

Here are 5 ways to ensure your design has a timeless quality!

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1. Crafting the design

Making a design that seems timeless is done by designing spaces that are unique and which creates joy and delight to the users. Enjoying the space in correlation with its requirement stands as the greatest joy an architect can offer his client.

2. Creating flexible and functional spaces

The entity to consider while designing flexible and functional spaces is to be thoughtful in the process of evoking designs that will be useful both in the present and the future to come. Though technological advancements make us lean towards it, the process remains unchanged. Delivering the work which satisfies the users need must be considered primary.

3. Integrating nature

Inviting nature’s presence within our design can make the user experience calmness, serenity, making them feel energetic from within. Nature is a powerful entity that ages with time and space, offering timeless quality to the space.

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4. Using true materials

Natural materials are more durable and can retain their appearance well. Thus, adopting more natural materials is better than moving towards artificial materials which wear out over time. The natural material’s honest nature signifies it as a cause to fall under the category.

5. Avoiding trends

Trends keep shifting now and then, so following a design that will project itself in the future must be the utmost goal.

Here is an example of timeless architecture.

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Pantheon

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The Pantheon_©https://cwfoodtravel.blogspot.com/2014/07/rome-2013-pantheon.html

Pantheon is a temple dedicated to the seven deities of mythology belonging to the Roman empire. Marcus Agrippa built the temple first in 27 BC, adding to it, was rebuilt by Domitian after the fire in 80 BC. A devastating second fire led to the rebuilding of it again by Hadrian in 120 BC. The first Christian emperor abandoned the church leading it to function as a Roman Catholic church. The original marble veneer panels were removed and replaced by bronze roof tiles. 

The Pantheon has been used as a tomb since the Renaissance period. There were tombs of Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I and his wife Margherita, being constructed there. Plus, Artist Raphael and Architect Baldassare Peruzzi were buried there. It is one of the most preserved monuments in Rome, which has also been serving as a worship place to date. This timeless quality and its functioning through the ages and through all odds had made it a remarkable place to visit.

Timelessness is a vast topic though discussed frequently; it is quintessential to practise it. The concept explores avenues wherein one can investigate the expression of continuity in approach. The character of the work can be revealed by referring to various principles. These principles can be applied, in the built form’s shape, details and semantic structure of the work as referred to by Newton. So, a return journey to the past is not the only option for witnessing the feature; Rather, one can reveal the timeless character in the present and make the future follow their steps of creativity ahead.

References

Ijstr.org. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/feb2017/The-Timelessness-Quality-In-Architecture.pdf> [Accessed 29 August 2021].

Sağlam, K. and ÖZTÜRK, S., 2021. REDEFINING THE CONCEPT OF TIMELESS IN ARCHITECTURE: CENOTAPH FOR NEWTON. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: <https://www.academia.edu/43181122/REDEFINING_THE_CONCEPT_OF_TIMELESS_IN_ARCHITECTURE_CENOTAPH_FOR_NEWTON> [Accessed 29 August 2021].

Pravdaarchitecture.com. 2021. 5 Ways to Create Timeless Architecture – PRAVDA ARCHITECTURE/ DESIGN. [online] Available at: <https://pravdaarchitecture.com/timelessarchitecture/> [Accessed 29 August 2021].

Author

Prakriti is an Architecture graduate from MCE, Chennai. She is an enthusiastic person and is passionate towards writing perspectives that are profound and narrative. She gets fascinated by Tadao Ando’s minimalistic approach and loves to explore new avenues of architecture in a sustainable manner.

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