Architecture does not end at the tangible built form but is an integration of sentiment, aptitude, aesthetics, art, physics, and many other aspects. Every designer has a different take for a given brief and over the years some influential designers have developed their language of architecture. The approach and design process is one of the most primary and important stages of design. The design process is a reflection of the morals, ethics, aptitude, sentimental values, and understanding of the one, whole, and living. There is no ideal state of the design process and it is subjective to the architect and the project. 

Below is the design process or philosophies of some influential architects which explains their take on architecture.

1. Le Corbusier 

“A house is a machine for living in.”

Le Corbusier is the pioneer of Architecture reform, also known as the flag bearer of modern architecture. He shaped the ideology of modern architecture through his vivid design principles and reforms. Corbusier with Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius led an instrumental creation of the international style with rectilinear forms and weightless structures, with an attempt to reduce ornamentation in structures. Corbusier had five building principles which were reflected in the majority of his projects. The principles are –

  • The Pilotis – a grid of columns to transfer the load instead of load-bearing walls.
  • Free floor plans – flexible open floor space that could adapt to changing lifestyles
  • Roof gardens – roof covered with vegetation to regulate temperature and moisture.
  • Horizontal windows – to create panoramic views and the advent of light.
  • Free facades – separate exterior and interior design elements made of open and closed sections.

Le Corbusier’s projects indicate that his process of design integrates both form and function.

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Le Corbusier ©

2. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 

“God is in the details.”

Mies van der Rohe is a revolutionary architect who believed to appreciate history but create in the present. His buildings reflected the era they were built in through the use of design and material. He advocated the design principles of clarity and simplicity and was an advisory of designing the details. He believed that through details, one can enhance the quality of design. One cannot find a single design philosophy common for all of his structures. He evolved through time and expressed the time and space through material and structural detail.

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Mies van der Rohe ©

3. Louis Kahn 

“Architecture is the reaching out for the truth.”

Renowned for geometric buildings, Kahn is one of the prominent architects of the 20th century. Curious by nature, Kahn tried to reinterpret the greater things in life through his designs. He was poetic, and his buildings also developed an inert language with itself making them stand out of the context. He played with white light and black shadow to enhance the tangible elements and the intangible aspects of the form. He used geometrical shapes as a pure metaphysical construct, which directly translated into the built. He believed that nature simply unravels its laws and that everything else is designed as a circumstantial interplay chosen by the man.

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Louis Kahn ©

4. Frank Lloyd Wright 

“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our civilization”

Frank Lloyd Wright believed in the philosophy of ‘form and function are one’, using nature as the epitome. He used to preach organic architecture and design environments that were both functional and humane. FLW did not focus just on the aesthetics but tried to make a comfortable and functional space for the occupant. His organic design philosophy states that architecture holds a prominent relationship with its time and place. He also used the materials in their most authentic state, rather than twisting them into something unnatural. One can also observe the influence of nature as he tries to integrate the indoor with the outdoor spaces to create a harmonious eco-friendly design.

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Frank Lloyd Wright ©The Frank Llyod Wright foundation

5. Antoni Gaudi 

“The straight line belongs to men, the curved one belongs to the god.”

Antoni Gaudi preferred modeling more than drawing architecture. He expressed his design using models made out of plaster or clay, which allowed more fluidity in the form resulting in a flowing form translated into a space. He used to suspend weights from cable to identify and utilize the tension to achieve catenary arched forms. It always enticed him to make the inverse model hanging from chains and to visualize the actual form in the mirror. It can rightly be said that he effectively invented parametric forms, even before the invention of the computer. He was an extremely dedicated designer, addressing the structure using a whole to one approach.

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Antoni Gaudi ©

6. Norman Foster 

“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown”

Foster is a British architect and an enthusiastic designer of the 21st century. His philosophy roams around the notion ‘old-meets-new’’. He describes architecture as an expression of our values. His designs are an amalgamated product of functionality, sustainability, regeneration, flexibility, and ecology. Foster’s design approach also expands to the use of new material and technology, at the same time respond, give and take from the context to achieve a build which not only caters to the program but also is spiritual and has intangible aspects that somehow include all the values and judgments of the designer and occupant combined.

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Norman Foster ©

7. Frank Gehry 

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness”

Expressing architecture as a form of art, Gehry questions the modern architectural approach. His designs break the notion of box-like buildings and challenge the sense of order, leaving the occupant in complete awe. He sees every building as sculpture and architecture as a form of painting. He tries to articulate a personal language through his buildings and does not believe in rules that might restrict his design and structure. He has an open-ended, limitless approach that has a possibility of going beyond the ordinary style of buildings. He looks at architecture as an art form and a medium of expression for timelessness.

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Frank Gehry ©

8. Rem Koolhaas 

“We live with almost perfect stillness and work with incredible urgency”

Rem Koolhaas has designed structures that question the different spectrums of avant-garde architecture. He doesn’t have a dedicated architecture style or language but a purpose that is reflected in through his designs. Every building designed by Koolhaas is the result of extensive research and a bottom-up labor-intensive approach. He refuses to give any direct answers but leaves an open ground for the spectator to interpret and analyze through various pieces of evidence in his design. Through his post-modern metabolic approach, he tends to generate forms organically emerging from the culture and community and still make a statement and hope of evolution.

9. Zaha Hadid 

“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”

With a topographical abstract vision and intrepid imagination, Zaha Hadid became one of the most influential female architects of the 21st century. Her designs portrayed dynamism and led to the development of her language of fluidic forms and flexible spaces. Her buildings are a derivation of the extensive research, which may also be seen as fantastical or even controversial by some. She aimed to develop an intersection of art and design through abstraction and to make a statement through her buildings.

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Zaha Hadid ©

10. Santiago Calatrava  

“I am always searching for more light and space.”

Spanish Architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava express his vision through his structures, which are a culmination of his knowledge of spectrums beyond architecture. His buildings are a combination of both aesthetic and structural physics. He develops a harmony between steel and concrete for his designs, where the source of the concept is a manifestation of art, physics, common sense, aptitude, and sentiment. During the process, he tends to resolve his design by working out the section and details the joinery to create an invigorating form. He takes his inspiration from nature and applied science to achieve the desired space.

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Santiago Calatrava ©Book – Santiago Calatrava: Drawing, Building, Reflecting



Rachita is an Architect who has a keen interest in parametric design. She is passionate about travel and writing and believes that the world is made up of different stories, with both buildings and the people living within them. She desires to leave an impact through her design and stories.

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