Living room consisting of a white sofa, a blue armchair and ending in the corner with a bay window

How “Beauty” can be objective if it becomes, or returns to be, a function of architecture itself and not a response to a correct realization of any artistic work. If for a moment we began to think about it in a completely opposite way, basically that the conclusion of any form (the Beauty) and perception could actually be the main basis for designing and/or conceiving anything such as to arouse emotion and therefore considering it significant.

Since ancient times, the concept of beauty was an essential element as Vitruvius already did in his “De Architectura” in which he claimed that architecture was based on three fundamental requirements such as:

  • firmitas (solidity);
  • utilitas (function, intended use);
  • venustas (beauty).

These topics are still strongly discussed today in the ongoing architectural research.

In recent decades, the growing relationship between Beauty and Utility in architecture appears increasingly complicated. Not only so, in contemporary culture the paradoxical evaluation of the “more you hide and/or deny something” to any architectural artefact has grown, the more one has the opportunity to confer beauty. So the essentiality of the form takes to extremes the function and the final result will be then defined “beautiful”.

But the definition of “BEAUTY” is used improperly today and has to make us think.

A lost fundamental concept has changed the meaning of beauty intended by Vitruvius: “beauty” must not be defined as an adjective in Art and therefore in architecture as a result of the right form and function or as a simple stylistic and/or morphological evaluation, but it should be defined as the “function” of architecture and art itself.

Beauty is a function as much as the function itself as an object or artifact and cannot be brought to subordinate entities, becoming a response to a correct distribution of form combined with function.

Living area with a white sofa and blue cushions, a glass coffee table in the center and a blue armchair alongside

Now let’s try to transport it to real life and dwell on the actions we do repeatedly every day. Let’s imagine booking a table in a club on Saturday evening after the weekly stress. We enter this room, among other things designed by a well-known architect. We immediately notice the attention to detail, design furnishings that give a pleasant environment to the eye. We enter and sit down, noting the care in the choice of quality furnishings and finishes. We go to the bathroom to wash our hands and notice a beautiful bowl sink with a waterfall tap creating a beautiful scenic effect. We use it and we have difficulty in washing our hands as the waterfall effect of the tap and the shallow bowl splashes the water and we find ourselves having not only our hands wet. We tell the inconvenient to the owner and we are told that it was thought like this because nicer.

The examples can be many and they underline just how beauty is thought as the final result as if it were a conclusive response to the work.

Scheme of how to create a functional and beautiful object

Beauty as guidelines for design and conception, in separation from beauty intended as a final evaluation.

Focusing on beauty as a function of architecture as form and function are, will be able to open up a new era for architecture, to bring the Vitruvian concept in a modern key.

Another fundamental error in understanding Beauty is that an artifact or any project, once embellished with elements that can be defined as decorative (therefore as additions), taken individually have their own degree of beauty, but once contextualized they lead to such confusion to actually exterminate “the beauty” that had to be brought by these aesthetic additions. The beauty must be a TOOL in the process of creating or designing any element. This reasoning can lead us to the thought of the Rationalist period, where decorum was considered as an instrument to be eradicated and that to take to extreme function could lead to beauty.

Dining room with a glass table set and black chairs around it.

The real problem is not the decoration itself, but how it is used. If we put a vase of flowers on a table because it looks more beautiful, that’s where we are wrong. To make that corner of the house functional also from an aesthetic point of view, I have to position and use certain characteristics of the vase thanks also to the function of beauty that I use as a key tool for the success of the project.

The beauty forces me to see the contextualization of the vase in that corner of the house in a different way, I will control its colour, its light, the material used, the combination with the materials around it etc.

Beauty in architecture in the concept of indoor comfort

A help to better understand the concept of beauty lies precisely in the concept of “decoration” which derives from the Latin concept of “decorate” which means “to adorn, embellish” which refers to “decorum” which means “convenience”.

Decoration derives from the Latin “Decore” which means “to agree, feel good, addire”. Talking about decoration is not at all useless as it has been argued so far because it has to do with an ethical dimension, which identifies a power that, in architecture, in design, etc., is both useful and essential for the identity of an object.

Open space with a white kitchen and on the right a glass dining table

Decorating something is defined “right” therefore decent and appropriate for the identity of a human being. An added decoration may be necessary if not very important to exhibit an idea of ​​human being, which has an ethical dimension that requires the satisfaction of needs including that of beauty. Therefore an element as important as form and function.

The human being has always been open in decorating himself since ancient times to satisfy the most intimate part of himself and recall his identity, affirm and personalize himself with respect to the context. Man who differentiates from others, an architectural artifact that differs from the surrounding urban context. So, does the decoration on architectural artifacts lead to make these closer to us and therefore more human?

Living room leading from the sofa towards the dining room and a corridor, divided by a wall

This fact does not mean minimizing and downgrading form and function at the expense of beauty, since an artifact without form and function has no reason to exist, but it is simply giving “beauty” a value that has been lost over time and that without it, also an object has no reason to exist since it does not satisfy the fundamental and real requirements of man. Beauty can be objective if it perfectly embodies the human soul, the objective self in each of us and not a small limited nuance, the common point that makes us part of a species.

In wellness, architectural comfort, one of the requirements is to satisfy beauty in the human being. That’s why beauty will save the world.