Western Architecture Visual Gallery

Most architecture is based on geometry (but see below works by Calatrava based on physics). Western architecture has traditionally been based on Platonic solids: rectangles, cylinders, cones, spheres (or their derivatives) and occasionally prisms (five, six or eight sided usually).

Vernacular architecture in nonwestern reaches of the globe and modern western architecture encompasses those shapes while adding mathematically based (parabolas, hyperbolas, etc.) and 3D free curvature surfaces.

I believe that both western and nonwestern architecture should be studied and that the lessons learned provide the background for the creative expression of contemporary architectural design.

      Click on thumbnails below to open a larger image in a new window.

Andrea Palladio - Church of the Redentore.

Geometry in action. Note the cluster of three towers; a medium diameter flat topped cylinder, a thin cylinder with a conical roof and broad cylinder with a hemispherical (dome) top.

Andrea Palladio - Villa Poiana entry.

This Italian Renaissance design might be taken for 20th century postmodern.

Erich Mendelsohn - Einstein Tower.

The 20th century brought new materials, e.g. reinforced concrete, that allowed plasticity of form as shown in this 1920 design.

Otto Bartning - Sternkirche.

Higher order of symmetry with an organic form like a seed pod. Compare this concept from 1922 to the Sydney and Tenerife Opera Houses (see below).

Wenzel Hablik - Exhibition Hall.

This 1920 drawing illustrates a form that is almost geodesic, presaging Buckminister Fuller.

Hector Guimard - Hotel Guimard.

The 20's were the time of Art Nouveau. Organic forms applied to or combined with rectilinear structure . Note lower right window with flowing ribs between lights.

Pavel Janak - Dr. Faras Residence.

Notice the "face" in the projecting bay with modeled supports and the fanciful chimneys with more organic forms.

Antonio Gaudi - Casa Batllo.

No discussion of 20th century architecture, much less Art Nouveau, would be complete without reference to this visionary Spanish architect.

Antonio Gaudi - Casa Mila.

Chimney details. Structure is plaster covered brick. Chimneys have long been used by architects for creative expression.

Antonio Gaudi - brick arches.

A brilliant engineer as well as architect. These parabolic "egg shell" arches are made of unreinforced clay tiles set on edge. Try this with your local building inspector!

Michael de Klerk - Eigen Haard

Geometry skinned with brick textures.

A.W. El-Wakil - Halawa House.

Domes combined with rectilinear forms are common features on Arabic architecture as used in this contemporary residence.

Moshie Safdie - Jerusalem Residence

Creative contemporary interpretation of the dome in middle eastern architecture.

Palo Soleri - Dome House.

Predating the Safdie design above this house in southern Arizona uses a pivoting hemisphere to extend seasonal use.

Engelen Moore - Price O'Reilly Residence.

Stacking glass wall. Not as exotic a solution to opening rooms to the outdoors as the Soleri design above, but more practical. Also could be used with insulation.

Daly Genik - Tarzana Residence.

Two types of movable sunshades shown here. This embodiment makes for a very machine-like design, but that is not inevitable given the basic concepts.

Skude-Moltke-Jensen - Villa Vision.

These sunshades both hinge and roll up like a blind . Note also the pinstripe polychrome exterior. Triangles, hexagonal prisms and cylindrical forms (walls).

Estudio Sancho-Madridejos - Chapel Vallaeceron.

This starkly modern building looks like concrete origami (Japanese folded paper craft). Use of triangular and trapezoidal forms.

Ferrater-Figueras-Luis - Barcelona Botanic Garden.

Trapezoidal and triangular planes of cast concrete used in the entry of this underground building.

Imre Makvocz - Church. Csenger, Hungary.

A refreshing departure from Platonic solids. Glazing in lantern towers is shingle like. Main sanctuary roof uses parabolic forms.

Santiago Calatrava - La Rioja Bodegas Ysios Winery.

Another interpretation of entrance as lantern (see Makvocz's church above). Compare to Casa Vista entry portico at night.

Santiago Calatrava - Montjuic Tower (base detail).

Brilliant Spanish engineer/ architectural designer in the tradition of Gaudi. Compare this detail of tiled surfaces to Casa Batllo roof above.

Santiago Calatrava - Alamillo Bridge.

Expression not of geometry but of mass and tension in unexpected balance. His most iconic civil work.

Santiago Calatrava - Lyon Airport Train Station.

Organic expression of tension and compression, like the foreleg of a race horse.

Santiago Calatrava - Tenerife Opera House.

Thin shell concrete. Compare to Sydney Opera House below and Bartning's Sternkirche model above.

Jörn Utzon - Sydney Opera House.

Designed in 1957 it is possibly the world's most recognizable work of modern architecture.

Frank Lloyd Wright - Sowden House.

Note the contrast between the blank faces and highly textured center entry. See any resemblance to a giant Cyclops (mythical one-eyed creature)?

Cedric Gibbons - Residencial entry.

Asymmetrical entry design. Architectural texture created by steps around door. Monochromatic exterior.

Steven Erlich - Residendial entry.

Another asymmetrical entry design. Polychrome exterior.

Llavancres House.

A naturalistic entry into an earth-sheltered house (the opposite wall would be open to the view). Note lightwell piercing sod roof.

Future Systems - Comme Des Garcons.

Stargate entry portal? Interesting juxtaposition of funky old brick and stainless steel and glass.

Ushida Findlay - Soft & Hairy House

An iconic sod-roof house of ferrocement.

Douglas Cardinal - Personal Residence.

Earth-sheltered, passive solar design with unique chimney like forms and stepped balconies executed in brick. What's not to like?

Stanley Tigerman - Daisy Residence.

Cast concrete curvelinear exterior walls with form board texture. Unadorned entry like a ship bulkhead door opening.

Jencks & Farrell - Thematic House.

This design is post-Prairie School or "Post-Wrightian". Compare also to Charles Rennie McIntosh designs.

Bart Prince - Ruther Residence.

One of the most creatively original contemporary architects. This design is more geometric than most others by Prince. Note deep relief of mirror window.

Bart Prince - Price Residence.

More typical of Prince designs. With this level of detail it is high desert baroque. Very cool - but maintenance costs will be very substantial.

Bart Prince - Interior Staircase.

Adobe-like structure. Treads of flagstone. Tile facing. Not code legal (no handrail). Non-code legal stairs are the stock-in-trade of many architecture magazines.

Chitoshi Kihara - Staircase.

Airy staircase fabricated in the Japanese craft tradition. Might even be code legal.

Bert Dirrix - Stair.

Could there be any less there, there? True minimalism. Compliance with US building codes doubtful.

Pringle Brandon - Staircase.

This contemporary stair has balusters like the ribs of a whale. Stairs and fireplaces/ chimneys are the fixtures most used in western architecture for free expression of design.

Bach & Mora - Telecom Building.

A relatively conventional zigzag stair brought to life with dramatic lighting and showcased in large window. Note extension of step form through wall below window.

Richard Meier - Hypolux Building.

A crisp helical stair in a cage. Typical Meier "any color you want as long as it's white" design.

Eva Jiricna - Knightsbridge Apartment.

This sculptor/designer has produced numerous tour-de -force staircases. Central post is steel tube cut-away to create a small diameter helix with a long pitch.

Contemporary Adobe - Exterior Courtyard.

Contemporary and traditional detailing in harmony. Note integrated lighting sconces and zero corner window (at left).

          Fair use of these low resolution images is without permission.                 Any image will be removed upon request of the copyright holder

 Visual Gallery Main       Design Tools  
 Contact Synoptic Designs         Main Page