Beauty and the power of beauty to transform us has been a constant thread that has followed me since I began my study at architecture school in Auckland. In my last year at architecture school I even set out to write a dissertation on beauty and managed to become so overwhelmed in the divergent viewpoints of key philosophers and thinkers of our time that I ended up writing screeds and screeds of quotes from minds such as Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Burke, Boullee…the list went on. My Professor must have felt sorry for me and rather than fail me as I expected, passed me on what I can only assume was my sheer determination and desire to understand how beauty has had a hand in defining and shaping our physical world in which we inhabit – whether it was through deliberate absence or presence, beauty has always walked with architecture.
During architecture school, beauty seemed to me to be in a phase of deliberate absence, and was not a word that was bandied around and if so it was lowered and seen as ‘unnecessary ornamentation’. As I continue to practice and develop my own understanding of such a complex and subjective topic, I have come to my definition of beauty and an understanding of its power to touch and transform each and every one of us.
Beauty for me is not on the surface, instead, beauty it is the internal essence externalized.
We have all experienced a moment when we have walked into a space that has touched us on a deep emotional level and lifted ourselves from the mundane into delight, inspiration or deep connection. This is the power that authentic beauty can bring. Each time we build we have the choice to create beauty through form; places that nurture potential and richness of experience. Places that awaken and inspire awe, or bring deep contentment and a sense of belonging or the feeling of being part of something more than ourselves.
Beauty therefore, is one of the foundations that guide our work.
What is exciting, is that many others are also embracing and celebrating beauty in their work. This year at the NZIA In:situ conference, Alison Brooks Architects after much deliberation found freedom in making beauty one of her non-negotiable principles when working with clients. Beauty is also gaining global recognition through the Living Futures Institution, where Beauty is one of the petals in the Living Challenge, where “The project must meaningfully integrate public art and contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit, and place appropriate to the project’s function.” (see more about the different petals in Inspire + explore).
Let’s therefore welcome beauty in all her magnificence in our lives each and every day!