Sunday, 25 January 2015

Nature in Art

Architecture rests in space, only the most skilful and sensitive architects are able to understand those relations between nature and a building.  This post will be one of the series of architecture related posts, as I collect material on Peter Zumthor, one of the few who understands the need for the bond with nature.  Swiss seem to respect the surrounding the exteriority and assimilate with the outside, does this mean they think outside the box? I would say no.  I think through respect of what we already have and understanding of the scenery in which a project is to be based, the final result cannot go wrong.  Only poorly educated architects do not consider the surrounding, and portray only a shell of what is needed, an empty shell of their own souls.  So many went wrong, but…wait, there is hope, as long there are few who do understand the necessity of combining natural with man-made.  The complete symbiosis is never possible, but all those attempts are for a reason, to create true and beautiful objects and buildings which will serve centuries and will stand as marks of our times. 
As it happened we explored in person projects of someone distinctively different form Zumthor, someone whose relation to nature was far more literal, organic and visible.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the most recognised Scottish, Art Nouveau architect and artist, the range of disciplines he got involved in is impressive.  His drawings and ornamentation of the monumental works create a Mackintosh Style.  Organic lines, oval shapes, softness and pastel shading only a few attributes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  Especially interesting is The House for an Art Lover, a building which is irregular in its form, one cannot draw an imaginary line suggesting a middle, and relating to symmetry.  Each side of the House for an Art Lover is different, a lot of soft and curved lines run along and surprise spectator who cannot believe that there is no ‘middle'.  Each element is beautifully composed and refers to the wonders of nature, one can see it as a rock formation, or an irregular tree, as if the building itself is condensed within the surrounding park and the garden. 

The Oval Room- House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Mackintosh's original plans for House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Inside of the House is as, if not more inspiring.  My favourite was The Oval Room, which in the past was designed to be a drawing room.  There is a wide window that allows a lot of light into this little space and a beautifully tiled fireplace.  The whole space seems unified and peaceful. The interior is full of contrasts, such as The Hall and Dining Room which are clad in dark wood with heavy dimmed light.  This contradicts the white interiors of The Oval Room and The Music Room, which are clad in white painted wood with lots of natural light.  To go further, The Oval Room with its minimal design clashes with the organic forms of the Music Room that is strongly decorated in organic, repetitive forms.  The House in my view is an unforgettable experience, it is a must to see inside as the architect never stops to surprise us.  There is everything there minimalism, maximalism, lightness, heaviness, darkness and brightness, organic forms and references to nature that make you feel as if you are in a different world.  This is a rare experience and a chance to touch a piece of history of the Art Nouveau era.  Mackintosh is to Scotland as Gaudi is to Spain, and I only wish his work was better taken care for as the Tea Rooms designed by him lost its freshness and it is difficult not to worry when you pass.  It is the most important matter to love and care for the national inheritance as Glasgow without the Tea Rooms and Mac Building would never be the same again.

Last thing to note is my humble opinion on the plans of rebuilding Mac Building's Library.  I dare say that no one is able to copy what was lost in the fire, a modern element should be introduced instead, something not clashing but educating and reminding of the lost past.  I wish it could happen but I fear that kitsch replacements and imitations will be introduced.  Having been shown the level of craftsmanship now on offer, it is fair to say that no one should be allowed to imitate the old Master, clearly for lack of appropriate skills in modern times and  a vast danger of being laughed at in the end.