The art of architecture
Monumental architecture represents aspiring directions for humankind. The structures somehow lift the spirit and make a profound statement on the landscape. They are designed to stand the test of time, and are usually imbued with an aesthetic form that transcends historical fashions and opinions. Great works of architecture say as much about the triumph of human achievement as they do about the purpose of their construction.
Great works of architecture are like great works of art. Some buildings, especially those of ancient times like the Parthenon, use precise mathematical ratios and geometrical relationships to produce forms that are in harmony, and pleasing to the eye. Relationships to the circle and square, the Golden Section, and other mathematical harmonies built into these structures display an obvious underlying understanding apart from the construction involved. Architecture challenges the notions we place on ourselves, what we are as a people, and our relationship to the natural environment.
The room itself can be considered a key component in architecture. It is the interior space that makes an environment suitable for living and working. Interior spaces lend themselves to a more personalized interaction - as distinct from universal spaces like public squares or civic meeting places. Many different factors can influence how an interior space can work - architectural configuration, light, colour and the way it relates to its use by people. Interior spaces need not be bounded by walls or other divisions, but they do "frame" spaces defining their purpose.
Architectural ornament has largely disappeared from modernist architectural forms. In the past, such embellishments defined a building's hierarchical importance in a setting. Ornament though can add character to a building and style an otherwise plain or functional facade with forms appropriate to the building's purpose. Indeed, apart from merely being aesthetic, ornament was in keeping with the decorum of a civic design. Ornament creates visual richness which is pleasing to the eye, and stimulates the soul.
While no one can predict what the future will hold for architecture, one can reasonably make a guess and say that the types of buildings created will probably be designed with the environment in mind, be energy-efficient and employ the use of new and exotic forms of metals, concretes, laminates, plastics, glass and composite materials. Predictions have been made for fully self-sustainable underground cities, facilities and underwater structures. Perhaps this is the future that architects will need to consider when designing forms that will not only sit above the ground, but will also embrace the subterranean and the interior of the Earth itself.