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Old April 6th, 2010, 10:58 AM   #1
siamu maharaj
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Can simple be beautiful?

In the most beautiful buildings thread I mentioned the Great Pyramid of Giza as one of the most beautiful buildings. Which made me think - can simple be beautiful? Or does it have to be ornate like the Taj Mahal to be beautiful?
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Old April 6th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #2
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I love simple yet classy buildings.

Though I can't think of a good one at the moment.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 11:20 AM   #3
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^ See. Simple was "beautiful" for the felt-like last 70 decades.

It's time we finally get rid of those annoying modernist dogmas some Bauhaus architects invented ages ago. We need a new postmodernism! New Urbanism is one of the ways to go - to break modernist grids, schemes and blandness.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #4
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Complexity is beautiful. Beauty is in the details.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #5
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^

Got it. Human eye looking for beauty is looking for details, ornament. Plain simple modernist architecture doesn't have details, ornament.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #6
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Sometimes, although I'm getting tired of bland squares passing off as "modern architecture". I want some of the old stuff from the late 19th Century back.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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Just to clarify, I didn't mean to say non-simple buildings are not beautiful. Like 95% of the buildings I like are not simple by any means. My favorite skyscraper is the Chrysler Tower, for example. All I meant was can simple be beautiful TOO? Most of the time it isn't though, but some buildings can be. And to add to Botswana, I hate those 'bland squares' too.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 02:08 PM   #8
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It depends on what emotional impact the building has. For example, even a simple but very tall skyscraper can look beautiful. But the same shape when presented in human scale, doesn't have much effect.

Also, humans love shiny stuff A glass facade looks very appealing even though it may have little or no detail.

Last edited by Marathaman; April 6th, 2010 at 02:43 PM.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 02:38 PM   #9
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So you imply tall skyscrapers aren't human scale? That's pb. true and that's part of the reason why I think esp. European cities should be aware of humiliating their historical cityscapes with plain boxy glass phallusses all over the place. We aren't in need of those. Yet there are fine examples of European skyscraper architecture, esp. in Frankfurt, Paris and Den Haag. But not the simple ones are the catchiest or most iconic, that's for sure.

It's a strange case with classical highrises like those of NYC, Chicago or Shanghai though.
Totally out of human scale, yet mostly appealing to the eye through various details, refined proportions and quality materials. They succesfully broke elder teachings of proportions and scale - and postmodernism was able to catch up with it. It's depressing to see we left postmodern ideals already and continue to build modernist form-follows-function charades like in the 60s again. Postmodernism brought awesomely fresh ideas reflecting architectural traditions, like WFC in Minneapolis, BoA in Houston, AT&T Center in NYC or Messeturm in Frankfurt. Those are way more iconic and appealing than most of the stuff we see getting built today imho.

We need to revitalize, to continue the development of postmodernism to find back to human scale and appealing architecture.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 02:48 PM   #10
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Postmodernism and Art Deco are my favorite modern styles. I really like geometry and harmony in buildings.

Look at this. Simple but beautiful.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #11
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Well, perhaps we should define "simple" first. The above geil Miami Art Deco building wouldn't fall in the modernist definition of "simplicity".
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Old April 6th, 2010, 03:10 PM   #12
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Of course simple can be beautiful, very beautiful even.
But as allways it depends on several aspects. Proportions, the surrounding or context, surface, colour.

Simple or complex doesn't make anything beautiful or ugly. That is just one of several aspecta that influence the overal appearance.

Most complex structures ar in fact not exactly very beautiful or aesthetic, but many very simple structured three dimensional or two dimensional objects shaped like spheres, circles, cubes, squares rectangles are often somehow rather nice to look at though, as long as the dimensions and the colour or surface are nice and if they fit into the surrounding.

Women all over the world go crazy about pearls, basically nothing but naturally grown simple, shiny little spheres. I can hardly think of anything simpler than a small little pearl that is widely considered so beautiful by mankind.

Some extremely simplistic objects that do somehow look beautiful in their surrounding can also be seen in 2001 a space oddyssey. Pitch black rectangular monoliths placed into a natural environment like this one here:
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Old April 6th, 2010, 03:13 PM   #13
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Modern architecture is essentially a scam that is meant to save money. We're supposed to believe something at the risk of being labeled unsophisticated while trying to find our own beauty in the building in question. But it does not mean modern architecture can't be beautiful - a school of such simply hasn't been established yet - because: a) it's easier to design something utilitarian with a fancy twist and then PR it some b) problems associated with establishing a new school of architecture (search for like-minded visionaries, funding, etc.)

I would highlight the following approaches an architect could take:

Design - Architecture influenced by graphic design, fashion, etc. Art Deco was such style. Modern graphic design makes use of geometric forms, colour and eye-catching techniques. But because Art Deco had greater impact on all spheres of culture more people were able to relate to Art Deco architecture. But essentially, the Red Apple and an Art Deco skyscraper are the same.

Form - Both Japanese castles and Frank Gehry use this principle (different approaches but the same principle).

Detail - Purely, a simple but ornate building. In this way, some Iranian Mosques and Indian Gopurams are similar.

Concept - Appeal through an idea behind the expression (some modern buildings have an illusion of concept).

Atmosphere - Sometimes related to popular culture, our own culture and upbringing. Brutalism - with it's dystopian appeal - was such style - and potentially the most atmospheric style there is (if confined to city blocks entirely made of Brutalist buildings (note: commie-blocks are not Brutalist contrary to popular belief)).

Any of these could be beautiful if a good school is established (by the way, North Korean architecture uses all of these approaches). Of course, all buildings are a mix of these to some extend.

PS: Personally, I think there's something authoritarian about dismissal of creative searches. If you ask what makes me the most proud of being Russian I'd say it's the fact that Russian architecture was in constant creative search.

Last edited by ainttelling; April 8th, 2010 at 10:01 AM.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 03:43 PM   #14
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yip

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Old April 6th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #15
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I wonder if in 100 or 200 years, those buildings will be appreciated by people (if they are still in good shape...), architecture, like everything, turned consumerist, and people want their houses built in 6 months, while in the past it tooks years... the single solution will be to find new technics to built as quick as today, but with many more possibilities. The goal, inside a true sci-fi vision, is well to have robots and nano-robots to built houses in few hours or days with as much details as let's say Taj Mahal or british parliament...
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Old April 6th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #16
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I'm a big fan of simplicity in architecture. Probably my favourite older architecture style is Georgian, and it is extremely simple... relying on beautiful proportions for its beauty. What could be more simple than an elegant Greek temple? And architects like Mies van der Rohe showed the world that "less is more", building sleek towers with a painstaking attention to detail, and a complete simplicity of the vertical line.
I'll take simple anyday over painfully and often ridiculously shaped buildings designed to look like household objects. I use a corkscrew to open my wine; I don't need to live in a building shaped like a pink corkscrew. It is a fine line between architecture and architorture, and that line has been trampled all over this past decade.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 09:37 AM   #17
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7WTC is a glass box. Yet due to its restrained form, size, quality of materials and angled profile, it stands in harmony with the sky and illuminates the downtown skyline.

Simple can be beautiful.

image hosted on flickr
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Old April 7th, 2010, 03:14 PM   #18
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Simply can not be beautiful.Someone mention a pyramid that are simple but he forgot on the fact that the are old 3000 years.
What would you think about piramyd that were built yesterday?
The building must have some kind of ornament, was a simple or complex.Beauty is ,someone has already said, in the details
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Old April 7th, 2010, 03:17 PM   #19
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7WTC is beautiful because of its smooth shiny blue facade . Replace that with concrete and it would look hideous.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 03:30 PM   #20
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I think simple buildings can be beautiful, but I also love intricate facades.
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