For an artist, his artwork is complete when he acknowledges that his soul has arrived on the canvas; for an architect when that part of the soul arrives in architecture. Art licenses architects to be weird. One can expect all sorts of crazy things when art comes in handy. It allows the creators to be very adventurous with their thoughts. The magical formula is knowing when to say why, and with the same breath ask, why not! It is the miracle of art that conveys the presence of the maker and the presence of human consciousness. I rather not waste an entire piece of this article into proving how significant art is to architecture. Keeping it simple and quick; one of the greatest measures of architecture is the factor of TIMELESSNESS. Looking at the greatest examples from history, where do you think the timelessness in art and architecture comes from? Hm. I thought so.
The buildings and the user together create an almost kinetic experience; a symphony of planes, openings, mouldings, accents, textures, light, sound, and views. Isn’t that art itself? Artists that reside within Architects create space that not only serves a purpose but exists to communicate an idea or evoke a feeling. For instance, with Libeskind’s “between the lines” design of Holocaust Tower, the Jewish museum in Berlin was evoking a feeling of entrapment, isolation, and hopelessness as one can only hear the faint sounds of the outside world beyond massive concrete walls; accurate enough because that is what must feel when you leave the history of Berlin.
On the other hand, Zaha Hadid tried to expand the marge for the use of art in architecture in a typical functional building of a fire station. She successfully pursued a straightforward approach to translate a painting into architecture intended to capture the “frozen movement”. Her project of Vitra Fire Station could’ve been the perfect example in an attempt to bring art to function.
However, the urge to appreciate but the lack of acceptance, has led the audience to change the whole function of the building. Disappointedly, the building now serves as an exhibition space, originally, intended to be a fire station.
Be it art or architecture the journey of the final creation is not in the Eureka moment but, in the hours of thoughts and procedure. If you compare an artist’s journey to a tornado, one can imagine the intensity of all the disciplines revolving around where the creator has to find peace and serenity in the eye of the storm. If the architect survives it successfully, art becomes a median to express a thought, identity, culture, and society through the play of form, colours, textures, and materials. Engineers and builders may have the technical knowledge to assemble the parts of the building but only an architect has the training and years of study in aesthetics and experience coupled with talent to design buildings that have some value as art. There is an obvious overlap of art and architecture but, not without friction. What follows is a short history of a contemporary artist and an architect who borrow the tools and concepts of each other’s disciplines. Two legendary creative minds of India – BV Doshi and MF Hussain, brought the best of both worlds from 1990s and fused their energies to birth the most unexpected space that offers the users to experience art and architecture, quite literally. Hussain-Doshi Gufa stands as an iconic example of a collaboration between art and architecture.
Observing the timeline of art and architecture separately, there is no doubt that the dots have always connected forming a network of experiences and has led us to major evolution. 91-year old Gehry has almost witnessed a century and continues to bring evolution to architecture. Always finding inspiration in art, he is known for proactive, technically challenging structures that defy genre and provoke a spirited debate. Talking about the current scenario in the field, I can think of no better example than Neri Oxman. Maybe she doesn’t directly portray strong artistic thoughts and provokes emotions but she has surely decoded the network and has joined all the nodes of art, science, engineering, and design connect to produce unimaginable works with beyond thinking materials borrowed from the biological world around us.
There is a myth that Einstein and Picasso met in 1904 in Paris. Picasso started the Cubist movement and Einstein – The General Theory of Relativity. Both were asking questions about space and time. One expressed himself through paintings and sculptures, while the other through a mathematical theorem. But they were both questioning the world around us. Changes in our perception affect the way we capture data. In the 24 years of my life so far, my mind and soul have travelled seeking connections and deeper meaning to everything. It would be easier to map it down; art is for expression, science is for inspiration, engineering is for invention, and design is for communication. If we take these 4 squares and create a circle, a clock, I’ve found myself constantly moving and shifting from one domain to the other. The input from one domain leads to the output for another. So, if we think of science, it converts information into knowledge. If we take engineering, it converts knowledge into utility. If we take designing, it converts utility into cultural behaviour and context.
If we take art, it is taking that cultural behaviour and questions our perception of the world. This only led me to conclude that there is a flow of information, a flow of creativity that happens across all disciplines.
So, if you believe in Cinderella moment, in that place at the midnight hour, you know it’s where Picasso meets Einstein, art meets science. It can only happen if you suspend your disbelief, only if you believe in magic!