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Gallery musings - Is Architecture an Art?

 Landscape Lines, Belynda Henry 2018

Last week at the opening of the beautifull exhibition of paintings and sculptures by artist Belynda Henry, I was chatting to her husband Michael about Belynda’s paintings. I am in awe of her talent and love the intuitive way she paints. The landscapes are evocative of physical regions yet represent more of an abstraction and emotional response filled with colour, form and line . 

I met Belynda a couple of years ago at one of her exhibition openings and then we struck up an Instagram friendship when I bought on of her watercolours. Following this I was delighted when Mick and Belynda engaged me to be their Architect. We have been working on the design of their new home #elemental_house since last year and construction has commenced on site. You can watch out for it on Grand Designs next year.

While Belynda was quietly working on her exhibition I was working with Michael on the house design. As my previous post talked of people and passion, there was no shortage of this in our dicussions. Michael and Belynda have built a house together before and woked on many projects, however this was their first time working with an Architect. At the Gallery as Michael and I discussed the paintings around us he declared that Architecture too was an Art. I was not overcome by modesty when I explained that I didn't think it was, however the conversation really started a train of thought and questioning that has been formulating for some time. 

A Degree in Architecture typically takes six years to complete and then several more years in practice before you can register and officially call yourself an Architect. It is typically not until the later years of study  that you learn professional practice and the huge responsibility an Architect takes on during the building process. Professional Indemnity , a legal requirement for a practicing Architect minimises that risk, yet there are countless examples of legal proceedings involving Architects. 

By this stage at University you have invested so much of your time learning about the many aspects of Architecture it would be pointless not to forge ahead and complete your studies to become an Architect, despite the very daunting thought of being sued for your negligence. 

For this very reason I find it a stretch to call Architecture an Art. Yes, an incredible well designed building can have sculptural qualities both internally and externally, it can heighten the senses and be a visual treat, yet the process from concept to completion differs so vastly from that of an artist completing an artwork. 

Design for me is a wonderfull process. Developing a concept that responds to a site and a brief is truly a gift. If the scheme is well received by the client , the joy continues. The solution is always within a framework , governed not just by the Client , but by Council controls, environmental factors and budget.  

Yes drawings and models are produced, they are the language of an Architect, yet they are the pattern upon which the built form evolves. They are static pieces of information that are developed over time to incorporate the work of the many people who contribute to the process until finally the Builder interprets the drawings and creates the built form envisioned many months, even years prior. 

Exhibitions like the Venice Biennale or the Serpentine Pavillion in London transform Architecture into an Art in the manner of engaging a broad audience while simultaneously responding to a brief and a context. The Vatican chapel by Souto de Moura at this years Biennale  appeared to be aethetically beautiful, yet also to transcend the physical while eliciting a sense of the spiritual.  When a building or space can achieve this, then  Architecture can become an Art, enjoyed for the purity of form, space and light so well conceived and executed in the manner of a great painting or sculpture. 

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