It would be difficult to imagine today’s modern world without the inventions and discoveries of Nicola Tesla. One of the greatest inventors, who contributed highly to the world of engineering and physics. Born in 1856 in Austrian Empire (which is today’s Croatia), Nicola Tesla was a versatile personality: an inventor, electric engineer, philosopher, futurist, and poet. His personality is as intriguing and enigmatic as crucial as his innovations are. Believed as a man of mystery, a large part of his life is still unknown. 

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Nicola Tesla_©Sajuria

“One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” -Nikola Tesla

While the world is aware of his discovery of alternating current induction motor, he has made a lot of contributions to the lighting industry. Known as the father of modern electric engineering, he led his life with enormous faith in science and exploring technology in different aspects. He is also one who is credited for the idea of wire-less smartphones and the internet. His innovations and discoveries are extremely relevant today, so much so that the world’s first-ever premium all-electric cars designing company Tesla is named after him!

Individuality and Style 

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Innovations of Tesla_©Imgur

Nicola Tesla was one of the most eccentric scientists to have ever lived and had many shades to his personality. His character traits included being an introvert, curiosity, developed creativity, rationality, immense imaginative powers. Along with being an engineer and innovator, he was a master storyteller, philosopher, and environmentalist. One of the additions to his personality was possessing an obsessive-compulsive characteristic, which made him have excessively disciplined hygienic habits. Tesla was also believed to possess a photographic memory which enabled him to imagine and visualise things strongly. He had envisioned many ways to make energy free to make it accessible to people from every section of society. 

These personality traits give us an idea of how incredibly futuristic Nicola Tesla was and how closely his ideas reverberated with the changing times. However, associating his personality and ideas with the kind of architecture he would develop, few parallels can be drawn with today’s built form. Below are a few of the pointers and examples related to Nicola Tesla’s personality and the kind of structures he would have built.

1.Use of Artificial Lighting

Nicola Tesla has made an immense contribution to lighting innovations. It is also said that he was born during a lightning storm. It won’t be an exaggeration if we say that today’s noisy, lit world buzzing with smartphones, televisions, radios, and machines would rather be silent and dark without Tesla’s innovations. 

When we think about Tesla as an architect, we cannot refrain from thinking about the usage of lighting systems. Artificial lighting on both the exterior facades and the internal spaces would have been a prime focus, which would resemble the concept of night architecture. Today a lot of building tower lights have been a defining factor for the cities and their skylines. Illuminating these structures has changed the way we perceive architecture at night. 

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Empire state building’s facade lit up with lights_©Secretnyc.
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Times Square, New York at Night_©WallpaperAcross

2. Geometric, symmetrical designs

Many sources mention Nicola Tesla having an obsessive character, which made him inclined more towards geometric patterns and clean surroundings. If this characteristic is to be translated into how he would build structures, it is possible to assume the buildings would have geometrical and calculated concepts. Many similarities can be drawn with modern-day architects like Tadao Ando, who designs structures keeping the idea of geometry and minimalism.

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MuCEM Marseille, France is asymmetrical glass cladding structure_©Air Corsica.
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The Olympic Park Agora in Greece designed by Santiago Calatrava_©PandoTrip.

3. Environmental Approach in Modern day

Tesla is often referred to as a cautious environmentalist by the kind of concerns he had raised regarding the depleting natural resources. His studies were also oriented in the direction of inventing a technology that uses more renewable resources. It could be speculated that the structures he would have constructed would crucially have an element of sustainability. 

Building the structures which are more nature friendly yet sufficing the needs of the users. Structures that can use more sustainable materials as well as contribute least to the carbon emission.

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Green, sustainable building design in Taiwan_©Interesting Engineering
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The Farmhouse skyscraper having an element of nature in each unit by Chris Precht_©Precht

4. Element of Mysticism

Nicola Tesla, though being a very famous inventor, a lot of his life is still unknown. There was always an element of mystery revolving around his personality even after his death. Imbibing this element in the kind of structures he would build, would resonate with the veils of perplex. 

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Louis Kahn’s Salk institute a mysterious masterful piece of architecture_©Architecture Digest

5. Hi-tech Architecture

Known as a Father of modern electrical engineering and a pioneer inventor in the field of radio waves, it is certainly possible to imagine Tesla designing structures with modern Hi-tech architecture. Today Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology is used to create self-reliant, intelligent, smart buildings. These structures use Artificial intelligence and are highly efficient. Though this technology is widely spread globally, it is speculated to boom in the coming future. 

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Lloyds Building in London_©E architect
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Working with innovative technologies_©Construction Executive

Nicola Tesla was one of America’s first celebrity scientists. It was because of his reach and knowledge about different spectrums of technology. In addition, he was a far-sighted personality who had envisioned a technology-oriented future. Translating his thoughts and characteristics to the field of architecture gives us fascinating approaches and innumerable possibilities.

Online References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

https://interestingengineering.com/10-unbelievable-facts-about-nikola-tesla

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/extraordinary-life-nikola-tesla-180967758/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-nikola-tesla

https://scienceblogs.com/clock/2006/07/03/nikola-teslas-personality#:~:text=On%20the%20surface%2C%20apparent%20are,realistic%20things%20in%20his%20mind.

Author

Kimaya is a recent Architecture graduate. She loves to design, travel and learn through exploration. Her interests also lies in reading, narrating and capturing stories. With her designs and stories she desires to delve deeper into her passion.

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