Questioning the aesthetic: Architecture as an art form
by Miraç Tapan
ISTANBULFeb 16, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Miraç Tapan
Feb 16, 2016 12:00 am
Since modern architecture was defined, the world of art as well as architecture has been debating whether architecture is an art or just the creation of a solid structure for the benefit of society. To shed light on the debate, one first has to define the definition of "art," which has been an issue since Ancient Greece. In brief, art is a human activity of creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts or artworks. Through artistic creation, the artist finds the opportunity to express their emotions and the idea of aesthetics along with their imagination, and express imaginative or technical skills. However, American musician Frank Zappa puts it in simpler words and says, "Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." On the other hand, architecture is defined as the process of planning, designing, and constructing buildings and other physical structures.
Given these two definitions, it is probably easy to say that architecture is not merely for the eye but for the social benefit of the society, as it provides shelter or is used for the wellbeing of more than one person. Apart from this, architecture is also considered as a science, with its involvement in math and logic. Most people who argue that architecture is not an art claim that artists produce their works without considering its usefulness. They also say that the buildings and other architectural structures have to serve the needs of others, highlighting the functional purposes of architecture.
In 2014, Patrik Schumacher, the director of Zaha Hadid Architects, tried to put an end to the debate as to whether architecture is an art form. In a Facebook post, Schumacher said, "Architects are in charge of the FORM of the built environment, not its content…Architecture is not a l'art pour l'art discipline. Architecture is NOT ART, although FORM is our specific contribution to the evolution of world society." Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid said that architecture is not a medium of self-expression for her, following her receiving a Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Despite comments by some of the world's best architects, architecture students at universities continue to consider themselves as artists. Many architects around the world hold exhibitions, displaying their projects via photographs or 3D models. In an article on the issue, Edward Warder Rannels argues that architecture should be studied as an art form, noting, "First of all, we see architecture as an art form, a material realization of artistic concepts and purposes, as in the case with other art forms such as sculpture and painting, or for that matter, poetry and music."
From my humble point of view, architecture is an art form, especially in a time when all art forms are transitional and definitions are blurry. Although architecture's main concern is form and usefulness, certain architectural structures around the world are not merely serving the good of society, but also play with the aesthetic notions of people. Although architects claim that they are just contributing to "the evolution of world society," we know for a fact that they are not shy to sue other people for replicating their works. Aristotle once said, "Art imitates nature." Turkish architect Emre Arolat's award winning design, "Sancaklar Mosque," imitates nature, just like Aristotle said. It is in harmony with the landscape, making it one of the most influential mosque designs. I believe that architecture is an art form because it comes into being as a result of creative thinking, just like writing a poem. As opposed to the bohemian artists of the 20th century who produce art for themselves, 21st century architects create art while serving the benefit of society.