Architecture looks at the
man-made living environment. Every great culture in the past had
its own ideas of beauty expressed in art and architecture. When
you look around at buildings, stets, squares and parks, you will
find them designed, planned and built in different styles.
Modernism was invented in the 1920s by a group of architects who
wanted to change society with buildings that went against
people's feeling of beauty. They wanted their buildings
constructed in a way to look unnatural.
While in traditional
architecture materials such as earth, stone, brick and wood are
used, the materials of modern architecture are steel, glass and
concrete. To many people modern architecture equals progress.
Developing countries want to build the most modem-looking
buildings as the first step towards becoming a modern country.
Modern buildings impress us because they are huge, but many
people do not find them beautiful. The buildings look like boxes
with flat roofs, sharp corners and glass walls that act as
mirrors. You do not feel invited to enter them. Everything about
these buildings seems hard and unfriendly.
Ancient architecture shows us many beautiful buildings. These
include great examples such as Taihe Dian, the Temple of Heaven
or the great European cathedrals. Both in the choice of
materials and shape of buildings, ancient architecture stands
much closer to nature.
Nature does not have any straight lines. Antonio Gaudi, a
Spanish architect, was the first to understand that. There are
not any sharp corners or straight lines in any of his designs.
He only wanted natural materials, such as stone, brick and wood
to be used and many parts of his buildings look like things we
find in nature. In some of his architecture, balconies look like
eyes, other parts look like bones, the walls seem to be covered
with the skin of a fish, while the roof looks like the back of a
dragon. Most of Gaudi's works were constructed in and around
Barcelona. Looking at the architecture by Gaudi is like a dream,
full of fantastic colours and shapes.
Despite the fact that he used traditional materials, Gaudi was a
modern architect. In fact, there are other modern architects who
use designs from nature when they create their buildings. Frank
Lloyd Wright, who built an art museum in New York, found himself
inspired by Japanese seashells. Another famous building that
makes people think of seashells is the Opera House in Sydney,
though it makes other people think of ship sails.
The 2008 Olympic Stadium in Beijing is another design that makes
us think about nature. Seen from the top, it looks as if the
stadium is covered by a gray net of steel, and it looks just
like a bird's nest made of tree branches. Birds fill up the
spaces between the branches of their nests with soft materials.
Just so, the spaces in the structure of the stadium will be
filled with huge plastic bags full of air. Although the stadium
will be made of concrete and steel, the flowing lines and round
shapes make the building look warm and friendly.
(Senior English for China Student's Book 2A Unit 3