Is architecture engineering or art? The short answer is that architectural designs are considered both an art and a science. The practice is actually a marriage between the two. Great architecture can actually be measured by how well the design decisions balance both pragmatism and creativity or user experience. The science and art of building design are both included in the field of architecture because both are equally important to meet the goals of the client and create meaningful, yet functional places for the occupants. Let’s explore how both art and science are used to create great architecture.
Buildings that meet practical, aesthetic, and legal standards require a combination of inventiveness, artistic expression, and technical understanding. Architects have a variety of chances to express their creativity while also taking into account practical considerations thanks to the interaction between the artistic and scientific parts of a building. This marriage of engineering and expression is the reason why architecture in the art and architecture world has been defined as the “Mother of Art.”
Without art, it’s just a building.
So how is architecture art and what is the art of architecture? The history of architecture has defined architecture as different from buildings. Over the years this terminology has been overused and therefore diluted its meaning. In short, A “building” is to “house” as “architecture” is to “home.” In the first year of architecture school, architects learn a great deal of architectural theory. This architectural literature often defines the differences between buildings and architecture. One of the primary characteristics that distinguish architecture as an art form is its capacity to elicit strong feelings and enrich the human experience. In fact, many architects focus on the human experience as the primary goal of architecture as these experiences are often how art is defined. The layout of a structure can influence how occupants perceive and engage with their surroundings. Layout and material use can enhance the experience of a place void of architecture. For instance, a well-designed structure might evoke awe and amazement or offer a sense of solace and refuge. Think of the feelings and awe you could experience with great downtown views. Architecture as an art form is distinguished by its capacity to influence human feelings and experiences through design. Imagine the feeling of awe experienced by walking into the nave of a cathedral. Oftentimes this experience is invoked by the architecture’s connection to the context. In the cathedral for example, specifically the nave, occupants are connected to the heavens through the impossibility of stones being stacked at impossible heights invoking feelings of divine intervention. This context can not only be a physical context but also a cultural or time-era-related context. Seeing an opportunity to design around a context and create a design integrating the human experience with the place is what can truly set architecture apart from just a building.
The power of architecture to convey cultural, historical, and social values makes it one of a kind. A structure can embody the ideals and aspirations of a society and serve as a physical reminder of its rich cultural legacy. Examples of historical sites that serve as iconic emblems of the cultural and historical importance of their respective societies include the Parthenon in Greece and the Taj Mahal in India. The streamlined forms of Art Deco structures or the functional aesthetic of Brutalist architecture are two examples of how a building’s design can express the values of its time.
Architecture can also enhance the experience of the natural environment. In our previous blog series “Naturally Artificial” we described how architecture enhanced the experience of guests at CW’s iconic design of Coffee Ridge Resort. There we describe how the concepts of the porch and the “inside out” building can offer stronger connections to nature. Furthermore, these concepts can connect occupants with the wellness nature has to offer.
Without science, it’s just art.
The design process in architecture is an inherently creative process that often involves artistic intuition and personal interpretation. Architects must balance the aesthetic, and experiential considerations of their designs with practical ones, such as building codes, zoning regulations, and other construction-related requirements. The design of a building can also involve collaboration with other creative disciplines, such as interior design and landscape architecture, to create a harmonious and integrated environment.
A harmonious balance between artistic vision and practical issues, such as engineering and building codes, is necessary for the successful practice of architecture. To guarantee a building is secure and sturdy, for instance, safety and structural requirements must be met throughout the design phase. To design structures that are not only visually beautiful but also practical and secure, architects need a strong understanding of engineering principles and building/material science. Ignoring these pragmatic variables can make the architecture impossible to build and occupy. It is for these reasons that many architects team up with engineers. It’s not uncommon to have a design team that includes structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers to fill in the highly pragmatic gaps in an architectural design. Although architects have a great deal of knowledge in construction and engineering, this knowledge is general and not specific enough in some cases to cover certain complexities.
Pro Tip: Treat your architect during the design process like you would your general contractor during construction. An architect’s broad understanding of all aspects, creative and practical is the primary reason why your architect should be your primary point of contact for your design. Similar to why your general contractor is your primary contact on the construction site.
The Art and Science of Design Tech?
The advancement of technology and digital tools has also had a significant impact on the field of architecture. Building Information Modeling, Computer-aided design, and digital fabrication techniques have allowed architects to create complex and intricate designs that would have been difficult if not impossible to achieve through traditional means. With the use of photography alignment, LIDAR, and drones, existing structures and environments can be modeled, studied, and implemented in a fraction of the time. These digital tools also provide architects with the ability to analyze and simulate various aspects of their designs, such as sun movement and acoustic performance. Teaming up with structural and mechanical engineers, architects often create building models that are an exact copy of the building to run more pragmatic analyses such as wind loads and energy usage. This technology leads to buildings that are more efficient, easier to build, and create a better occupant experience. Environmental sustainability is a significant feature of design that is under the purview of science. Architects are being asked to create buildings that are energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable as people around the world become increasingly conscious of the effects that building design and construction have on the environment. This calls for consideration of building materials and construction techniques that reduce a building’s environmental effect in addition to an understanding of environmental aspects like climate and natural light. Functional criteria like accessibility and circulation must also be taken into account throughout the planning and design of a structure. In order to design a building effectively, architects must have a deep understanding of how people will use and interact with it. This necessitates taking into account elements including the building’s intended use, its intended use, and the accessibility of the facility for all users.
So, why is architecture considered art and Science?
In summary, architecture is a special field that combines both art and science in many different ways to achieve a successful solution to the constraints of the site and program. Buildings that are practical, aesthetically beautiful, and safe require a blend of artistic expression, technical understanding, and pragmatic considerations. A rich and complicated subject that provides architects with a variety of options to express their creativity while simultaneously addressing practical issues is created by the interaction between the artistic and scientific components of the architecture. Whether you are working with our team or another, it’s important to keep both the practical and the artistic components in mind and in balance, as the design progresses.