Much has been written about the way architecture affects people’s emotions. But what if we look at it the other way around? What about the way our emotions affect our designs?
On countless occasions we have heard or said the phrase “creative block.” How many of those times has it actually been associated with an “emotional block?”
It takes a lot of courage to open our hearts and express to the world how we feel at any given time, especially if the emotions that are invading us at that particular time are negative. Some, those who dare, express themselves by crying, screaming, laughing, or talking. But there are also those who display emotions through creative expression, sometimes even unconsciously.
This theory has been discussed countless times from the point of view of art. Being architecture an artistic profession, and since creativity is one of, if not the most important ingredient, it is logical to think that it could also be affected by our emotions. It is even possible that, if we analyze architectural movements in history, we could find clues suggesting that these movements were caused by the various emotion-provoking situations happening at those given times.
What could an architect who feels relaxed create?
What about one who feels like dancing?
Subjective experience and the emotions of people are directly related to the way they think creatively. This is a fact. So, why not ask how Frank Lloyd Wright felt when he designed Fallingwater?
or Mies van der Rohe when he created the Barcelona Pavilion?
or Frank Gehry when he made the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao?
Perhaps these architects had followed a consistent design line from start to finish, but what about those who have surprised us with an architectural work that is unrelated to the rest of the work done in his/her career?
I remember feeling an enormous sense of anxiety when, after having learned the “five points towards a new architecture” formulated by Le Corbusier -and then reciting them as if they were unequivocal laws-, I discovered that he, toward the end of his career, started to think that EVERYTHING he had taught during his life was wrong. So he created the Notre Dame du Haut Chapel in Ronchamp, France to prove it. In this project he separates himself from his principles of standardization and geometric style to give rise to a response of enormous plastic freedom that also responds to the environment.
It is true that the experience gained over the years is one of the main factors influencing the evolution of an architect -and of any person of any profession for that matter-, but I think that emotions do even more for any artist.
Which is why I believe it would be interesting to analyze in parallel the life and work of a great master of architecture such as Le Corbusier. I might be wrong, and this could be just some random idea product of a romantic mind, but would it be possible that these changes have been produced from more than just experience and a sudden awakening to a new architectural reality?
Perhaps we do not want to admit that what we feel affects or influences our creations. We prefer to think that what we do is inspired solely by external agents such as the environment, the client’s emotions, or some other specific situations. Perhaps we do not dare to admit it, because we feel that this could weaken the seriousness of what we do.
But this is the easy way out. I think we could see it as something positive and enriching; something that, if we learn to control it by reinforcing the positive emotions and limiting the negative ones, would be able to grant a new level of emotionality to our buildings.
I would like to believe that this project was done by someone in control of his emotions…