In response to last week’s blog, the question a reader asked was….
"At what point does a building become eternal?"
For a building or space to become eternal, there must first be a moment where the building or space is alive, where it embodies a soul. The architect is usually the first to feel the moment when his or her creative spark gives birth to the project. And somewhere in the creative process, the project itself, with its new found spirit or personality, begins to lead the design, and generate the design decisions that follow.
And once the space is built, when does the architecture transcend from “living” to “eternal?”
I believe that the moment the building leaves a lasting impression on any one viewer/visitor, that is when its eternity is sealed. Because it is in actuality, our memory that makes the building eternal. It is the indelible mark a space etches onto our memory that grants it timelessness. We leave that space forever changed in our thinking, or perhaps in our vision, awe-struck by the experience. Once the “awe” factor has been ignited, it is hard to ever let it go. It will stay embedded in our memory as we bestow upon that building a cherished timelessness.
And that leads us into today’s topic of trendiness versus timelessness. Timelessness is a quality that remains invariably powerful throughout time. It sort of suspends itself between time, unaffected by its passing. But trendiness is the following of what is fashionable and often faddish at a given moment in time. They are quite the opposite. Certainly when we see a trendy building, something that might be “cool, hip” and “of the moment,” we feel an excitement as we respond to its vitality and boldness. However, over time, that diminishes as a newer trendiness gains momentum, and overrides the old.
Timelessness is quite the opposite, since it does not heed time. Its strength or power remains unaffected by time or the fashionable changes that come and go. It has a sophistication, an understanding, or a depth that resonates much deeper than a trend can possibly evoke. For example, looking at the fashion world…the stretchy neon disco pants of the 80’s had their moment. But I think we could agree that their moment has now passed (thankfully!). But the little black dress is a timeless piece that has the classiness, clean structure that accentuates a woman’s body in a timeless way.
Similarly, architecture can define itself as a trendy project, or a timeless one. While a trendy design can shake things up a bit, bringing a lot of attention to the project because it is unusual and “new,” it can; however, later become stale and dated, unable to stand the test of time.
For timelessness to be achieved, I believe the space and/or building has to resonate for us on a deeper level, in a way that transcends time. When we are in a space that has the awe factor, and we sense its enormity, or its exquisite detailing, or the ethereal quality of light against texture and form, we have experienced timeless beauty. It is those buildings that will continue to inspire, long after the latest trend disappears and is forgotten, long after each visitor leaves, and even well past the building’s life expectancy. It is the memory of our experience of the architecture that will hold it timeless.