Happy Valentine’s Day! Conventionally we would celebrate with our significant other, but let’s take this occasion to celebrate a dedication and passion to architecture. It’s love all the same, isn’t it? If you think about the feelings you experience when you see someone you like: the heart flutters, the pupil dilations, the nervous speechlessness, and the euphoria feeling of, “is this really happening?” Would you relate it to the feeling when you first saw the project you used as a precedent in your first-year project? It’s unreal!
Why do you want to be an architect? Or, why are you an architect? Do you remember when you first fell in love with architecture?
In fact, in perfect timing, the Moriyama RAIC scholarship is accepting submissions for essays that describe the moment you decided to pursue architecture- so, the topic has been on my mind for a while now. Here are a few architectural endeavours I’ve pursued in the past to maybe and hopefully reignite your flame with architecture.. and I’ve also shared a little Valentine’s gift in the bottom of the article for all of you.
Be still, my stuttering heart
In my first year of architecture, I kept my adventures local. I visited Montreal and was stunned by the Palais des congrès. It was a perfect showcase for a first-year. It was not too extravagant and crazy but still a subtle aesthetically experiential crush to woe you in further in the realms of architectural facades and spaces. Its colouful array of tinted windows highlighted every single surface it reached. I thought, “architecture is an experience”. I definitely could not have felt colourful lights through a photo in a lecture hall.
I began venturing deeper, farther, confident I could find others in the sea of architectural beauty. Where else to go but New York? A cacophony of different architectural styles, I had never expected my second love to be anything but a building. But there it stood, a glass box by Jean Nouvel, standing on the edge of the East River, in Dumbo, a lovely restored wooden carousel, Jane’s Carousel. Wonderfully backdropped by the Brooklyn bridge.
$2 for a spin, it wasn’t even a question whether I would push my way through to the perfect horse to revel in the festivitity of well-joined steel parts and glass connections. It was perfect.
Did I dare adventure even farther? Did I dare to pursue projects a plane ride away? By now, I have recognized that architecture came in many forms. I was no longer limited to believe that I would be restricted to only love built structures meant for living, or working but could crush on just the experience of good design itself. My first urban project romance. Superkilen, by BIG architects, in Copenhagen.
Infatuated by its striking dynamic uses of colours, patterns, and graphics– I was in awe running throughout the park with my friends. Using every park fixture, exclaiming in joy, “it’s just like the pictures!”
By now, I had stretched far out from my comfort zone, I had thought I have seen all that I should have seen. I thought,”will I ever be as pleased as I was with my last crush?” I was so wrong to think that I could stop being impressed. I went to Barcelona. I heard so much about Gaudi. How, he, with such great interest in nature, had somehow translated nature into architecture. His legacy, the still incomplete Sagrada Familia.
Its brilliant stained glass openings, reminiscent of my first timid love with architectural light and spaces. I was basking in a new different lighting but loving it all the same.
I have gone all this way to experience all these types of architectural experiences, and to this day, I still am seeking the one. The one that makes me sigh in happiness that something so wonderful had been designed. The one that everyone else agrees is perfect and wish they had been the one who thought of it.
As every romantic crazed Valentine celebraters would say, “LOVE LOOKS NOT WITH THE EYES, BUT WITH THE MIND”.
As a little Valentine’s gesture, I’ve made a small and simple Photoshop brush so you can doodle on all your architectural favourites. Here’s a little silly example I did for when I visited the National Palace of Pena in Lisbon. Isn’t it fun, you can download the brush here! It comes in a set of two- one as a single dainty heart and the other, a small cluster of hearts. Share your photos!