What defines architecture? What differs architecture from Fine Arts?

Essai_sur_l'Architecture_-_FrontispieceWhen you are looking at a contemporary building, don’t they appear to you rather like a sculpture than a real building? It’s amazing how close to Fine Arts may architecture come today. Starting with the Charles Jeanneret’s Church in Ronchamp, through the densly sculpted facades of Gothic cathedrals, ending on Bilbao Museum, architecture often, although physically standing firmly on the ground, seems to be swinging in the clouds.

Egyptian method

During the yesterday’s lecture with Richard Weston I learned that understanding of what is architecture and what is not varied considerably throughout the time. People who gathered around Egyptian Temples were not allowed to enter the interiors. No wonder that for this common crowd architecture was only something alike a giant sculpture.

Roman method

Let’s now move forward to the next level of civilization; we’re now standing in front of the newly built massive Colosseum during a festival, let’s say the Bacchus day. What we are seeing is the mass of people striding towards the stadium crowding in the building. We realize that we’ve just witnessed social progress which opened interiors of bulidings on the public.

What stays the same?

Therefore we have now two ways of looking at architecture and we cannot really say if one is better or worse than the other. They are just different. However, there is something common in each of them and on the question “what exactly is it?” we can get the answer from “Experiencing architecture”. According to the book similarity lies in the utilitarian aspect of both ideas. We can think about architecture as a piece of art, but we can never forget that the functional aspect must be included. (page 8, Steen Eiler Rasmussen, “Experiencing Architecture”, Third Edition).

Archtiecture finds its start at the moment when human undarstands that he needs to organize his surrounding. He wants to possess a shelter, to have somewhere to sleep. Only after this, when his lower Maslov’s pyramid’s needs become fulfilled, he starts thinking about making his house more appealing. Only after this Fine Arts become conceived. Architecture will always depend on practical demands of the world.


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