Monday, November 16, 2009

The 'Edges' of Architecture

I frequently find myself drawn to the edges of things – and you can read that any way you like – because it seems to me that the most interesting things in life happen ‘around the edges.’ That’s another debate though. In this post I’m referring to things architectural. Literally defined, edge refers to a border, brim or margin; or to a line along which two faces of a solid meet. In my head, it also refers to the visual impact of the edge of a building meeting its background, or its near neighbours. When I roam about a city – any city – I’m always looking for an arresting perspective, something that catches my eye and won’t let go. It may be a building in its entirety but more often than not, it is a slither of a building, a coming together of different component structures, different materials, of edges. It may be the shimmer of surfaces glinting in the sun, or a set of shadows draped over the side of a building. It may be the angular structure of a single corner etched against a brilliant or a gloomy grey sky; or it may be a close-up that better defines the materiality of a building.
I look for juxtapositions. I look for material harmony but equally, I relate to material contrast. I’m not about stylistic labels. I don’t care if a building is Victorian Gothic, Modernist, Post-Modernist or anything in between; what I look for is the symmetry (or equally the asymmetry); the details and their placement within the bigger picture. I look at edges and at the intersection of vertical and horizontal forms; and I fuss over reflections and shadows. It is around all those ‘edges’ that I find the greatest aesthetic pleasures. It seems to me that sometimes in the sheer bulk of a city - even the sheer bulk of a single building - people are blinded to the details, the intricacies and the little bursts of creativity that hover above them. If only people would look UP. If only they would take the time to really SEE.

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