Quotes worth pondering, on architecture and houses
Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.
It is not easy to do something good, but it is extremely difficult to do something bad.
To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.
I think the chance of finding beauty is higher if you don’t work on it directly …
Beauty in architecture is driven by practicality. This is what you learn from studying the old townscapes of the Swiss farmers. If you do what you should, then at the end there is something, which you can’t explain maybe, but if you are lucky, it has to do with life.
Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in the room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city.
Whatever space and time mean, place and occasion mean more. For space in the image of man is place, and time in the image of man is occasion.
What does a house want to be?
Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect’s task therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.
In a small room one does not say what one would in a large room.
The details are not the details. They make the design.
Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.
The work of art is brought into the world without there being a need for it. The house satisfies a requirement. The work of art is responsible to none; the house is responsible to everyone. The work of art wants to draw people out of their state of comfort.
We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
One of the top ninety-nine peculiarities about houses and homes is that they are both: real-estate speculation and sanctuary.
Admiring houses from the outside is often about imagining entering them, living in them, having a calmer, more harmonious, deeper life. Buildings become theaters and fortresses for private life and inward thought, and buying and decorating is so much easier than living or thinking according to those ideals. Thus the dream of a house can be the eternally postponed preliminary step to taking up the lives we wish we were living. Houses are cluttered with wishes, the invisible furniture on which we keep bruising our shins. Until they become an end in themselves, as a new mansion did for the wealthy woman I watched fret over the right color of the infinity edge tiles of her new pool on the edge of the sea, as though this shade of blue could provide the serenity that would be dashed by that slightly more turquoise version, as though it could all come from the ceramic tile suppliers, as though it all lay in the colors and the getting.
The house is the stage set for the drama we hope our lives will be or become. And it’s much easier to decorate the set than to control the drama or even find the right actors or even any actors at all. Thus the hankering for houses is often desire for a life, and the fervency with which we pursue them is the hope that everything will be all right, that we will be loved, that we will not be alone, that we will stop quarreling or needing to run away, that our lives will be measured, gracious, ordered, coherent, safe. Houses are vessels of desire, but so much of that desire is not for the physical artifact itself.
Nothing is so improving to the temper as the study of the beauties either of poetry, eloquence, music, or painting. They give a certain elegance of sentiment to which the rest of mankind are strangers. The emotions which they excite are soft and tender. They draw off the mind from the hurry of business and interest; cherish reflection; dispose to tranquillity; and produce an agreeable melancholy, which, of all dispositions of the mind, is the best suited to love and friendship.
The architect at his best must make forms enabling people as individuals and as groups to express themselves by changing their situations. In this manner he becomes like the lover for whom the fulfilment of the beloved’s life plan is part of his own life project. He lives out his transformative vocation by assisting someone else’s. Then, we can forgive him his signature on his buildings. We can forgive him because he makes pieces of stone serve hearts of flesh.
Roberto Mangabeira Unger