Art in Architecture
Written by Jonathan Lees RIBA. April 2021
Chapter One – A beautiful home
Architecture is the complex and carefully designed structure of everything around us, whether it be natural or built by humans. It is the collaboration of many parts of a holistic environment that induces emotion from the physical, visual, olfactory and spiritual perspectives, as much as performing the practical functions of everyday life.
‘Architecture is not just a visual art. It is a physical sculpture, an acoustic melody and a delicate painting‘
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An oak panelled ceiling with boss for chandelier hook – Jonathan Lees Architects
Architecture is not just a visual art. It is a physical sculpture, an acoustic melody and a delicate painting. It is the use of proportions to create perfect compositions. Architecture is the invention and poetry of objects and spaces working together to create the contextual backdrop to our life experiences. Harmonic proportions and sensory factors influence our designs and are themselves enhanced by the creation of a space. The most personal and resonant exercise of this creation of a space, is the ‘home’ and it is our role, as the artist and Architect, to nurture and explore a vision of ‘home’ and to bring it to life, in whatever form, through design.
A Cornish country home – J Lees Architects
‘What we do not always see, is how we can enrich our experience of these environments…..’
The home is not just a building. It is an array of spaces filled with personal objects, items of furniture, art works and trinkets that make our environments so individual to each of us, enabling us to create, over time, our own personal home. What we do not always see, is how we can enrich our experiences of these environments by creating a space in which our home can occupy, a stage to display our items or keepsakes and a backdrop to our everyday. Art and craft is often used to enhance and enrich a space, whether it be with cabinetry, fireplaces, decorative plasterwork or ornate staircases. A style appropriate for the backdrop is often present before the creation of the space is considered. In other words, for many of us, the home is already formed with our belongings, our tastes and our styles, it is the space that these collaborate with that is yet to be created. So, we are never really starting from a blank canvas.
Kitchen diner in Henley Mansion – J Lees Architects
Snug in Henley Mansion – J Lees Architects
Our aim as designers, is to create spaces that form a multitude of incidental surprises that are found and enriched by the inquisitive, ambitious homeowner.
Carved column capital designed by Jonathan Lees Architects
‘A beautiful, well designed building can vastly alter the way in which we live.‘
The first impression of a space should enliven us and inspire a sense of appreciation of the art of spatial design, with the function, sustainability and practical nature being performed effortlessly and instinctively in the background.
‘The overall composition of the piece may be formed and directed by the Architect, but the small, detailed brushstrokes are delivered by the many wonderful and talented trades…..’
A stone garden folly in construction – J Lees Architects
Stone cartouche being carved by masons at AFJones and designed by Jonathan Lees Architects
Details on outdoor brick fireplace – J Lees Architects
Oak garden loggia rafters – J Lees Architects
Developing the composition of a painting is similar to the design of a building, whether it be in the development of the plan or the elevations, the building is a kit of parts that is assembled in such a way that it becomes a compositional piece. Some are impressionist, some traditional landscapes, some manga cartoons, but always there is a parallel relationship with art. The two are inextricably linked. But are architects thought of as artists anymore? Or are they technologists? Has technology influenced the development of architecture so much that architects have become more focused on technical and engineering ability over artistic skill? You would need to survey the profession to find out.