Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Styles of architecture

Deconstructivism is the latest in architectural styles. What exactly is it?

IN A world of change where plasma television is replacing the cathode ray television, where outsourced jobs are more popular than the old economy jobs, where cell/camera/PC phones are replacing the land lines, it is probably time to rethink the way one looks at different options in building houses. This change can be attributed to human nature, which is automatically accustomed to novelty and newness. Hence, in the field of architecture, classical architecture has seen its doomsday and the winds of change have brought in "deconstructivism"(It is not about demolishing buildings but all about thinking as to why a building has to be built the way it used to be), a new style evolved, thanks to Jacques Deorida, a French Philosopher.
The plethora of sub-styles and `isms' that we come across today can mostly be traced to the moment when the modern movement was conveniently declared deceased by critics in the mid 1960's. Even before this era, the classical style was prevalent.

Classical style

The buildings in the classical age of architecture were more artistic and hence were very decorative, adorned with well-worked column heads and decorative wall motifs. This style had fixed form and proportion and hence did not address individual needs. The Rippon Bulding and the GPO building in Chennai are standing examples of classical architecture.

Modern architecture

Modern architecture is free of the fixed forms and decorative elements that characterise classical architecture. Buildings were designed to address the individual needs and did not have the character of the region or aspects of religion taking precedence. The MRF corporate office on Greames Road and the Tidel Park at Taramani are examples of modern architecture.

Post modernist style

Just as the other styles, the modernist style was further enhanced and named the post modernist style. The harmony and simplicity of modern style is amalgamated with more decoration and detailing. The Raja Muthiah Hall at Egmore and the Chettiar Marriage Hall at MRC Nagar are examples of post modernist styles.

Deconstruction style

But each time a new movement is isolated and a name coined for it, the length of the cycle becomes shorter and shorter. This is largely due to the low tolerance for stability in the world that has got accustomed to novelty and change. Now when post-modernism has become increasingly commercialised, a new style called deconstruction has made its way. This movement breaks all the classical rules of composition, the balance, hierarchy and rigid geometry. The NIFT campus at Taramani and the L& T office at Chennai are good example of deconstructivism.. Free flowing organic forms and modern lines are the ways of deconstructivism.
In both modernism and deconstructivism, new shapes are explored. Some of the key aspects of modernisation and deconstruction are:
The clarity of form and structure is highlighted and the structural elements are made architectural elements.
The forms are made simple wherein it is helpful in maintaining the building and it also does not become outdated in a short time-span.
New colour combinations are tried out, wherein each element of the building gets highlighted and also reflects the character of the people living inside.
It is easy and simple to enhance the form of the building rather than creating ornamental details and carvings.
The sanitary, electrical and air-conditioning service lines are well planned and concealed. But in some cases, the service lines are exposed like in the Pompidur Center in Paris.
Integration of futuristic materials for easy maintenance, like some residences in Bangalore have wooden balconies with metal handrails and supports. These elements make the building look not only futuristic but also minimalistic.
Integration of landscaping and built forms are encouraged, making it all an outdoor experience to help get away from the city congestions.
All these aspects of styles are ideal for the new generation, providing for some conducive environment for healthy living and an active mind.

(The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai)

No comments: