Last edited 07 Sep 2018

Aesthetics and architecture

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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. As aesthetics concerns an appreciation of beauty, it is influenced by the subjective taste of an individual.

Like painting and sculpture, architecture can be considered a visual art to which the philosophy of aesthetics can be applied. However, this application of aesthetics to buildings and architecture is complicated by the physical requirements of the brief, budget, structure, regulations, climate, weather, and so on, meaning that building design is driven by form and function as well as aesthetics.

When architects design buildings, they use a creative process to rationalise these different requirements to create a unified whole. For more information, see Concept architectural design.

Aesthetic considerations in architecture might include:

  • Line.
  • Shape.
  • Size.
  • Texture.
  • Colour.
  • Balance.
  • Unity.
  • Movement.
  • Emphasis/contrast.
  • Symmetry.
  • Space.
  • Alignment.
  • Culture.
  • Context.

For more information, see Design principles.

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