Is Architecture Art Or Science?

A home not only serves the utilitarian purpose of providing us with shelter, it is also an expression of who we are. Good art is about inspiration and emotion while good design is about scale and measurements. This is why architecture is often referred to as the intersection where art and science collide. Before the building begins, the design of a home takes into consideration both ends of this spectrum. Is architecture art or science?

Martha Thorne is the executive director of the Pritzker Prize (often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel”) and the Associate Dean of External Relations at the IE School of Architecture. She is also the former curator of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago. On the subject, she says:

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“Architecture is both an art and a science. I might even take it a step further and say that it’s a multifaceted gemstone as it is not just art, or just science… it is more than that. This is a discipline which draws on psychology, sociology, economics, politics and so many more areas.

I am reminded of my time working at the Art Institute of Chicago. Architecture in that sense was a curatorial department in a major art museum. Within the museum itself, there is a hierarchy and with my colleagues we sometimes joked that the more useful art is- the more you can walk on it or sit in it- the less it was considered an art and the lower down the totem pole it was!

Architecture on one hand is considered an art and is studied as such. It is strange in the sense that architecture is not truly the creation of an individual or collective for the purpose of research, contemplation or beauty but has the purpose of responding to functional needs. That takes it beyond the realms of art into other fields of human existence.” (via Thought Economics)

Is family life at home so different than architecture’s intersection of art and science? Sometimes life is a balancing act of emotions and measurements. Like architects, we work towards that necessary space between being inspired and being functional.

What do you think? Is architecture art or science?

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