House in Chenal Valley – What is beauty in architecture?

Reflecting this week on a recent excerpt in a local publication on Prime Property: 10 of the most beautiful homes in Little Rock. One of the projects we designed is included in this list and is quite different from the other selections. So, we’ve been discussing beauty in architecture and re-questioning what we think beauty means to us.

We realize beauty is dependent to some extent on culture and experience; but can beauty be universally understood at some level?

Aesthetic, in architecture, is often linked with order and balance. Rhythm, for instance is frequently desired within striking compositions. So, is architecture nothing more than the manipulation of space to follow certain rules of beauty? Can architecture break or challenge such rules that are directly connected to the human senses?

When the human nervous system experiences beauty, certain parts of the brain light up. It seems that, to some extent, humans can be taught what beauty means. Again, culture and experience may have a significant role. Yet, there are certain qualities that are constantly found regardless of culture or experience. According to Beauty and Brain these are: grids, zigzags, spirals and curves.  Such findings indicate that on some level, beauty may be universal.

As architects, we strive to create beautiful forms and spaces that inspire humans within. It is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; however, there are a collection of architectural spaces that never fail to stir occupants deeply. Like many designers, architects follow rules and consciously bend them. To advance as a profession, it is important to learn from the discoveries of neuroaesthetics; but it is equally important to challenge them. Architects should not feel limited by such findings, but rather they should feel freed to learn why occupants respond the way they do – to certain arrangements of space.

The experience of beauty is fundamental to what makes us all human. We may find beauty in different things at different times; however, the joy found in surrounding architectural space and form is universal. As spacial compositions continue to evolve, so too will our understanding of the meaning behind beauty.

Below is the house we designed that was included in the list of the 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Little Rock.

And we can’t help but think of this weeks happenings that beauty of the human race is all the differences between us.


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