Architects around the world have always inspired us not only with great design and planning but also through their ideology of spaces and design philosophy, imprinting in us a vast impact and influencing our process of perceiving spaces. Architects with influential works have immensely helped us understand how to establish a connection between the built environment and the existing natural environment.
These inspiring architects gave us buildings that spoke of the location and that gave a sense of belonging to the local environment and culture. Let us now explore more about these architects and their teachings.
Often referred to as Finnish icon, Ar. Alvar Alto believed in integrating buildings with the local environment by means of local materials and tackling site-specific challenges. This ideology has been very well reflected in each of his works – right from the buildings to the furniture he designed. Also, his designs were responsive to the climate and site conditions, making them compliant with the local atmosphere. The curved profile of the Baker Housemade sure no rooms are at right angles with the heavily trafficked street while the Villa Mairea with features like Wooden Columns and turf-covered roofs was intended as a response to the natural environment of the site.
Notable Projects: House of Culture, Helsinki, Cultural Center Wolfsburg, Paimio chair, Finlandia Hall.
Key Learnings: Exploring modernism with unconventional and local materials, Taking Functionality into consideration.
One of the most influential Asian architects around the World, the Deshmanya title holder Ar. Geoffrey Bawa led to the onset of a movement that explored modernism to turn it into a unique process sensitive to the cultural and local fabric. With projects like Sri Lankan Parliament complex, with floating copper roofs, buildings laid out in an asymmetrical fashion, use of colour green and a modernist yet traditional facade, Bawa started the legacy of tropical modernism. The interactive glazed facade and sloping roofs of the Steel Corporation offices and housing proved that administrative buildings need not have a monotonous formal look.
Notable Projects: The Ratnasivaratnam House, TheKandalama Hotel, The Strathspey Estate Bungalow
Key Learnings: Regional significance can be very well defined by means of form and features of buildings.
Ar. Raj Rewal holds an important place in the architecture of India’s post-colonial era. His designs depicted modernism deep-rooted with regional significance. He gave us Hall of Nations, the world’s first and largest span space frame structure in reinforced concrete. Through elements like the central courtyards, earthy colour tones of facade and structural minarets of Indian Science Academy, New Delhi he showed us the amalgamation of traditional elements with the high rise modern design, whereas, through Ismaili Centre, Lisbonhe gave us Modern materials of concrete and glass entangled in traditional forms & geometries of Islamic architecture.
Notable Projects: Asian Games Village, Bio Port Sohna, National Centre for Biological Sciences.
Key Learnings: Combining materials and architectural elements renders design a unique site-sensitive dimension.
Pritzker Prize winner Japanese Architect Tadao Ando is known to create complex spaces with simplistic features. He associated architecture greatly with the ideology of bringing in reform to society. The church of Light, Osaka by Ando shows how a simplistic natural resource of light can be used in a building. The Museum of Literature, Himeji introduced us to the play of ramped entry lined by tiered water pools and a minimalistic facade with a clear division between solid concrete facade & Glazed facade. His projects revolve around the modern material of concrete with a tinge of nature and environment.
Notable Projects: Rokko Housing, Japanese Pavillion, Meditation Space, Vitra Seminar House.
Key Learnings: Simplistic forms can sometimes be a solution to complex design requirements and bring in a change in society.
Best known for his ecological architecture Ar.KenYeang is one of the famous architects around the world who is also an influential ecologist and author from Malaysia. Yeang’s works aim towards translating theoretical eco-architecture into reality and building a connection between modernism and sustainability. Menara Mesiniaga, Malaysia by Ken yeang is a futuristic bioclimatic skyscraper that makes use of passive strategies for ventilation, daylighting, and solar energy concepts and facilitates upward vegetation along the facade and landscaped sky courts. The Solaris Tower, Fusionopolis, Singapore is another example whereYeang through the vertical vegetation parks, diagonal light-shaft and automated glass-louvres roof over the atrium established eco-architecture in a modern context.
Notable Projects: National Library Singapore, Spire Edge Tower, DiGi Data Centre
Key Learnings: No matter how huge the scale of the project is, sustainability can always be achieved.
These architects around the world were of the opinion that buildings must reflect their surroundings and have their own individual identities, unlike the monotonous Modernism or Postmodernism era. This is a great take away of knowledge for young architects. While we might have a fascination for certain design style or element, we must evaluate if it is the right fit for the design in context to its location and purpose. Functionality matters the most and innovative incorporation of the same is necessary. There are no prototypes in design, adaptive alterations always help us to achieve site-specific design solutions.