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History of Architecture (AP313) | Essay | 2013

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Essay for History of Architecture (AP131)

Roll Number: 08616901611
Sushant School of Art and Architecture

MINIMALISM is an artist movement that attempts to reduce a work of art to
the number of color,shapes, lines and textures. It does not attempt to
represent or symbolize any other object or experience. The basic idea is to
create art that does not mean anything but still has an artistic value .
There is a parallel with Dada art in respect to the lack of meaning of the
work but the real difference lies in the artistic value of the object, which is
non existent in Dada . At any rate minimalism has lasted for several decades
andis still considered to exert a great influence on not only contemporary art
but also their descilines such as music, dance , design, and architecture.
Minimalism was a reaction to the emotions and expressions belonging to
abstract expressionism. Minimalism was initially dominant in sculpture
where the works of Donal Judd, Carl Andre are mentioned.
Soon this creative approach bagan to win over followers among
contemporary architects. Hence the architectural roots can be found, to a
greater or lesser degree in minimalism.
History of Architecture (AP313) | Essay | 2013
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Minimalist architecture describes a style characterized by an imperial
austerity, plain geometric configuration and industrially processed materials.
An example to this is bahaus school where Functionality and simplicity were
combined with aesthetics, to produce a purer form of design. Previously, Art
Nouveau had been about creating ornate, complicated, decorative products.
The Bauhaus reduced the complexity of design to simplicity, functionality
and a pure form of aesthetics.

For Gregotti, architectural minimalism is a part of a broader tendency to
supress what is excessive in artistic practice , on the basis of discovering
elementary , archetypal gestures. According to him there should be literal
use of materials that satisfy the term minimal and no ornamentation done
on the faade treatment. In the space of reduction, comprised only primary
architectural elements , light and material, the relation between the user and
spatial unit is intensifiefd.
According to Avon and Vragnaz , they relate minimalism with an experience
of emptiness, originating from Buddhist tradition. As a key of Japanese
minimalism there was a spirit of the wabi- moral principle, which advocates
simplistic characterstics. Wabi is based on a Zen concept, according to which
separation from material possessions leads to self realization and self
Meis Vander Rohe, Gunnard Asplund and Adolf Loos were staunchly against
the ornamentation or anything that would have a disguising effect.
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Less Is More , Van der Rohes famous phrase, emphasizes the idea of
giving maximum power to architectural space by not providing any
accessory. Hence as rightly said by him the fewer elements that make up a
work, the more eloquent it will be.
Minimalism takes great advantage of light in order to highlight the qualities
of a material and to add dynamism to a space. Large windows and
translucent parameters allow light to enter in a diffuse form. As a
consequence shadows become blurred and objects tend to appear
suspended. Therefore the object and space they occupy acquire a certain
relationship. On certain occasions , natural light produces a pattern in the
space , and its changing position let us know of the passing of time or the
change of season.
Moreover the way materials are used are also noteworthy. Architects
carefully select wood , stone, plaster or concrete , depending on what they
wish to express. The choice of material is in harmony with this quest of
minimalism and simplicity. As far as planning part is concernerd application
of simple basic shape is ensured in order to harmonise with simplicity ad
The idea of using staircase without risers , laying furniture in a way to
integrate it into the architecture so as to make it the largest surface area
available for use and to afford a genereal feeling of spaciousness are the key
From a house in San Franciscos to a Buddhist temple, to a mountain shelter
in Switzerland , minimalist architecture canvases most efficient building
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designs ensuring the strategy of less is more being followed which
economizes space , light , and mass and can lend itself to aesthetic yet
functional structures . Minimalisms unique use of shapes , lines and
materials gives way to strong simplistic designs. Here focus was more on
functionality and simplicity.
Is Minimalist architecture a style or a philosophical statement?
Study of Japanese spirituality related to minimalism in architecture links it to
traditional theories. Japanese minimalism is a tribute to emptiness, moral
encouragement and self realization.
The most influential English Minimalist architect , Pawsons works are a great
influence of japanese influence. He uses the concept of simplicity and
reduction as the key to understand minimalism.
The contrast between the loud and the quiet in terms of architectural is
represented as minimalist sophistication. Hence it is not seen as a style but
rather as a philosophy of life, which offers visual peace in the chaos of urban
life. Minimalism is a perceptive therapy for liberation from everyday hustle
and relaxing in the peaceful paradise of elegant simplicity.
According to Italian designer Vignelli suggests that minimalism is not a style,
it is a behaviour, a reaction to visual noise.
But One common criticism of minimalism in architecture - or in design in
general - is that it is aesthetically cold and that it creates an unwelcoming
home environment. Proponents of the design style argue that in fact
minimalism is more welcoming than more ornate styles of design. They say
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that taking the "less is more" approach creates a relaxing, calming
environment free of all of the clutter that demands attention in more ornate
design styles.
According to Bernotti , minimalism avoids the impression of coldness using
tactile material qualities and texture subtlety. Sensory and bodily experience
of non cluttered space is underlined. In reality, it all comes down to a matter
of taste. Some people prefer grandiose architecture while some prefer simple
and clean styles. The principles of minimalism can be applied poorly, which
can indeed be stark, but properly employed, minimalism can be elegant and