Last edited 26 Mar 2018

Aesthetics and architecture

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophic study that relates to the nature and expression of beauty and taste; in other words, the appearances of things. It is derived from the Greek word ‘aisthetikos’, which refers to sensory perception and understanding or sensuous knowledge. An important aspect of aesthetics is that, as it concerns an appreciation of beauty, it is directly influenced by the subjective taste of an individual.

Like painting and sculpture, architecture is considered a visual art to which the philosophy of aesthetics can be applied. However, this application of aesthetics to buildings and architecture is more complex as the two most important factors in building design and form and function.

Aside from the visual design and form of a building, its functionality is one of several extrinsic factors (e.g. structural integrity, cost, the nature of building materials, etc.), that will influence building design.

When architects design buildings, they use a creative process to manipulate different design principles to create a unified whole. These include:

  • Balance.
  • Unity.
  • Movement.
  • Emphasis/contrast.
  • Symmetry.
  • Space.
  • Alignment.

For more information, see Design principles.

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