Architecture quotes

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Here we have a selection of architecture quotes, insights and words of wisdom from some of the world’s most famous past and present architects …hoping to inspire and add a small insight in their work and thought processes

Enjoy!

Adolf Loos

“Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect's task, therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.”

“The house has to please everyone, contrary to the work of art which does not. The work is a private matter for the artist. The house is not.”

“Be truthful. Nature only sides with truth.”

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Ai Weiwei

“To work in architecture you are so much involved with society, with politics, with bureaucrats. It's a very complicated process to do large projects. You start to see the society, how it functions, how it works. Then you have a lot of criticism about how it works.”

“The natural desire to save a cat is what it means to be a citizen.” 

“We had better not enjoy the moment, but create the moment.” 

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Antoni Gaudi

“Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.”

“There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.”

“Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.”

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Alvar Aalto

“Form must have a content, and that content must be linked with nature.”

“Architecture belongs to culture, not to civilization.”

“I tell you, it is easier to build a grand opera or a city center than to build a personal house.”

“God created paper for the purpose of drawing architecture on it. Everything else is, at least for me, an abuse of paper.”

Alvaro Siza

“The relation of a building to its function needs to be much less schematic and formal if you want to produce good architecture.”

“A good architect works slowly.”

“Tradition is a challenge to innovation.”

Bjarke Ingels

“I believe that architecture, as anything else in life, is evolutionary. Ideas evolve; they don't come from outer space and crash into the drawing board.”

“The one thing all humans share is that we all inhabit the same limited amount of real estate, which is Planet Earth.”

“A kid in Minecraft can build a world and inhabit it through play. We have the possibility to build the world that we want to inhabit.”

Buckminster Fuller

“When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I'm finished, if the solution is not beautiful I know it's wrong.”

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”

César Pelli

“The desire to reach for the sky runs very deep in the human psyche.”

“I see my buildings as pieces of cities, and in my designs I try to make them into responsible and contributing citizens.”

“I always look forward to the next project. That is one of the wonderful things about architecture - you always can hope for another project to design.”

Charles Eames

 “Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” 

“The most important thing is that you love what you are doing, and the second that you are not afraid of where your next idea will lead.” 

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” 

David Chipperfield

“There is a danger when every building has to look spectacular; to look like it is changing the world. I don't care how a building looks if it means something, not to architects, but to the people who use it.”

“The difference between good and bad architecture is the time you spend on it.”

“A building is no good if someone's got to explain to you why it's good. You can't say you don't know enough about architecture - that's ridiculous. It's got to work on many levels.”

Daniel Libeskind

“To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history, but to articulate it.”

“We live in a time of renaissance … cities are coming back to life, after a long neglect.”

“Architecture is not based on concrete and steel, and the elements of the soil. It's based on wonder.”

Frank Gehry 

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”

“For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I'm not sure where I'm going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn't do it.”

“I refuse to work unless I get paid, so I don't get a lot of work sometimes.”

“I don't know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do.”

“98% of what gets built today is shit.”

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Frank Lloyd Wright

“You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge hammer on the construction site”

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

“A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.”

“Architecture is the triumph of human imagination over materials, methods, and men, to put man into possession of his own Earth. It is at least the geometric pattern of things, of life, of the human and social world. It is at best that magic framework of reality that we sometimes touch upon when we use the word order.”

Glenn Murcutt

“We do not create the work. I believe we, in fact, are discoverers”

“Life is not about maximizing everything, it's about giving something back - like light, space, form, serenity, joy. You have to give something back.”

“Layering and changeability: this is the key, the combination that is worked into most of my buildings. Occupying one of these buildings is like sailing a yacht; you modify and manipulate its form and skin according to seasonal conditions and natural elements, and work with these to maximize the performance of the building.”

Jean Nouvel

“Each new situation requires a new architecture.”

“Each new situation requires a new architecture.”

“My buildings are more famous than me.”

Le Corbusier

“Architecture is a learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.”

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”

“A house is a machine for living in.”

“The home should be the treasure chest of living.”

“To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.”

“Light creates ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of a structure.”

“Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city.”

“The history of architecture is the history of the struggle for light.”

Louis Kahn

“A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.”

“The Sun does not realise how wonderful it is until after a room is made.

“Architecture is the reaching out for the truth”

“Even a brick wants to be something.”

“Consider the momentous event in architecture when the wall parted and the column became.”

“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.”

“Every building must have… its own soul.”

“A room is not a room without natural light.”

“I try to create homes, not houses.”

Luis Barragán Quotes

“Any work of architecture that does not express serenity is a mistake.”

“Architecture is an art when one consciously or unconsciously creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well being.”

“I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one.”

Louis H. Sullivan

“Form ever follows function.”

“A proper building grows naturally, logically, and poetically out of all its conditions.”

“Once you learn to look at architecture not merely as an art more or less well or more or less badly done, but as a social manifestation, the critical eye becomes clairvoyant.”

Mies van der Rohe

“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.”

“Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There is begins.”

“God is in the details”

“Build! Don’t Talk”

“Each material has its specific characteristics which we must understand if we want to use it. This is no less true of steel and concrete.”

“I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.”

“When one looks at Nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it takes on a deeper significance than when one stands outside. More of Nature is thus expressed – it becomes part of a greater whole.”

“The architect must get to know the people who will live in the planned house. From their needs, the rest inevitably follows.”

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Norman Foster

“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.”

“Architecture is an expression of values.”

“Everything we design is a response to the specific climate and culture of a particular place.”

“I describe the design process as like the tip of the iceberg. What you don’t see is the long haul: all the endless auditing and things like that.”

“Everything inspires me; sometimes I think I see things others don’t.”

“If you weren’t an optimist, it would be impossible to be an architect.”

“It takes a lot of effort to make a building look effortless.”

Oscar Niemeyer

“Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends, and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.”

“My architecture is easy to understand and enjoy, I hope it also is hard to forget.”

"I was attracted by the curve — the liberated, sensual curve suggested by the possibilities of new technology yet so often recalled in venerable old baroque churches."

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Peter Zumthor

“What I try to do is the art of building, and the art of building is the art of construction; it is not only about forms and shapes and images.”

“My first buildings, when I was about 30, were rejected for aesthetic reasons.”

“When I concentrate on a specific site or place for which I am going to design a building, I try to plumb its depths, its form, its history and its sensuous qualities.”

“Architecture is exposed to life. If its body is sensitive enough, it can assume a quality that bears witness to past life.”

“My buildings should have an emotional core – a space which, in itself, has an emotional nice feeling.”

Philip Johnson

“Architecture is the art of how to waste space.”

“All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”

“I guess I can't be a great architect. Great architects have a recognizable style. But if every building I did were the same, it would be pretty boring.”

Rem Koolhaas

“Architecture is a dangerous mix of power and importance.”
“Infrastructure is much more important than architecture.”

“Any architectural project we do takes at least four or five years, so increasingly there is a discrepancy between the acceleration of culture and the continuing slowness of architecture.”

“Architects work in two ways. One is to respond precisely to a client’s needs or demands. Another is to look at what the client asks and reinterpret it.”

“The great problem of the concert hall is that the shoebox is the ideal shape for acoustics but that no architect worth their names wants to build a shoebox.”

“The word ‘celebrity’ and the word ‘architect’ are basically incompatible.”

Renzo Piano Quotes

“One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again.”

“Architects spend an entire life with this unreasonable idea that you can fight against gravity.”

“You can put down a bad book; you can avoid listening to bad music; but you cannot miss the ugly tower block opposite your house.”

Santiago Calatrava Quotes

“The architect is not only the director, but he is the composer. And, as a composer, the architect brings a sense of creativity to each building.”

“I am always searching for more light and space.”

“I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art.”

Steven Holl

“Frank Lloyd Wright made houses right up until the end. I think that’s important because it gives you a direct connection to all the basic aspects of architecture – the spatial energy of the place, the construction, the materials, the site, the detail.”

“You can say I’m not the easiest architect in the world, because I’m always trying to push the limits.”

“Architecture is bound to situation. And I feel like the site is a metaphysical link, a poetic link, to what a building can be.”

Tadao Ando

“I like ruins because what remains is not the total design, but the clarity of thought, the naked structure, the spirit of the thing.”

“I believe that the way people live can be directed a little by architecture.”

“There is a role and function for beauty in our time.”

“The speed of change makes you wonder what will become of architecture.”

“All architecture has a public nature, I believe, so I would like to make a public space.”

Toyo Ito

“There are so many constraints on the architect that public buildings almost never feel free or enjoyable.”

“I think of architecture as a piece of clothing to wrap around human beings.”

“Architects have made architecture too complex. We need to simplify it and use a language that everyone can understand.”

Walter Gropius

“Art itself cannot be taught, but craftsmanship can. Architects, painters, sculptors are all craftsmen in the original sense of the word.”

“The mind is like an umbrella – it functions best when open.”

“Limitation makes the creative mind inventive.”

Zaha Hadid

“Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space … On the one hand it's about shelter, but it's also about pleasure.”

“I don’t think that architecture is only about shelter, is only about a very simple enclosure. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think.”

“Architecture is unnecessarily difficult. It’s very tough.”

“It’s very important that historic cities are allowed to reinvent their future.”

“I’m into fashion because it contains the mood of the day, of the moment – like music, literature, and art.”

“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”

“I really believe in the idea of the future.”

“I have always appreciated those who dare to experiment with materials and proportions.”

“Architecture is like writing. You have to edit it over and over so it looks effortless.”