Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #35: Architecture

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.― Winston S Churchill

For Amy’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #35, it’s all about architecture.  Instead of focusing on famous architectural sites, I am sharing my thoughts about architecture.

When we travel, we often stay in rental apartments, so we can get a sense of how people live in other countries.  There are differences in the size of kitchens and bathrooms, in the height of ceilings and the width of doors.  Even doorknobs are placed higher and sometimes lower than we are used to.

These experiences are helping me refine my own architectural aesthetic.  What’s important in a building?  How does the building make the occupant feel?  Significant or insignificant?  What’s the personality of the building?   Is it grand or humble?  Do you think it’s ironic that in many industrialized parts of the world, people “get away” to these simple wooden cabins which give them valuable moments of peace and relaxation?

Cabin in Vancouver, B.C.

Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.  – Mies van der Rohe

Buildings also tell a story of a time and place…as well as power and domination.  Some of them are meant to awe and intimidate for centuries.

The Borghese Palace, Rome.

Sometimes they reveal stories of the people who lived there.

Who Lived Here? Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.  – Frank Gehry

But at their best, buildings are timeless.

Grand Central Station, interior.

Sometimes they transcend our expectations of what is possible.  When the Danish architect Jørn Utzon designed the world-famous Sydney Opera House, no one knew how it could be built.  It took over a decade to solve the technical problems, resulting in a final cost of over 100 million AUD. But the result is breath-taking.

View of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbor

Less is more.  – Mies van der Rohe

Today, architects are creating slender, super-tall skyscrapers, which seem to defy the laws of gravity and engineering. These narrow vertical structures are now soaring high above cities like New York, Vancouver, and Melbourne.  Despite their height, they have a smaller footprint at the base, which appeals to real estate developers.  But I wonder about the personalities of these superstructures which tower above all the surrounding buildings and gobble up their airspace.

New Construction, Vancouver, B.C. Shot with a Google Pixel 2.

It was the spirit animating the mass and flowing from it, and it expressed the individuality of the building.  – Louis Sullivan

The buildings that speak to me the most are on a human scale.  They are filled with light and  open spaces, like the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  Inside them, my spirits soar.

Inside the Getty Museum.

The same is true for my favorite homes.  I’ve lived in skyscrapers, in townhouses, a crooked two-family house, and in a New England brick colonial with a yard and a garden.  But my favorite homes were cozy places that were filled with light and had expansive views.  How about you?

I hope you join us this week for Amy’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #35–Architecture.

Next week, it’s Tina’s turn to post the Lens-Artists Challenge #36.

And in the meantime, we’re continuing our travels….weather permitting!

62 replies »

  1. You just visited my post as I was about to visit yours. 🙂 I enjoyed your thoughts as well as the examples you shared. That Vancouver structure is really interesting, but I’m more like you. I like home-y places with lots of light and, for preference, a view. I want somewhere big enough for living (no tiny houses for me) but not the size that makes me wonder who could possibly entertain enough to need so much space or where all the people with enough children to really use that space couldn’t afford it because of all those children. 🙂 As for skyscrapers, I prefer my canyon walls to be of rock, not buildings.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. The new building in Vancouver is a sight to behold as you cross the bridge still a work in progress. Finally, we have a building that defies architecture and can’t wait to see it finish. I am with you about plenty of lights with an expansive view.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An really interesting post. For me light in a building particularly a home is really important. We have lovely big windows which give lots of light. It does show up the dust though, but never mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice thoughts about architecture. It definitely inspires me to be more aware about buildings and their importance in our lives. I enjoyed the photos a lot, especially the Grand Central terminal one. I miss NY so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So do I, Nanyi. We’ll be back there this summer. I always feel at home there–no matter how long I’ve been away. I hope you get back there too. And thanks for your kind words about the post. 🙂 🙂


  5. Love your thoughts and photos, Patti – great post! I am with you on the light and space too – at home and elsewhere. The Getty Museum would be a place for me – looks much like Bilbao and Guggenheim in light and space. It never occurred to me that those skyscrapers could let their condos to so many absentee millionaires that the entire building would seem uninhabited. Interesting. I have only had three homes – and to me, light is the most important ingredient. I also must have a garden, a place to sit outdoors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I saw the pictures of your home, I knew we had similar ideas about light and comfort. 🙂 It’s amazing to look out at the skyline at night and see so many vacant apartments in these huge skyscrapers. The city of Vancouver has just started to tax absentee tenants. It’s a real issue there. Have a wonderful week! I’m hoping it’s warm enough that you can spend time in your garden. The dogs will be happy!


  6. Thanks for making me think, Patti. You often do 🙂 🙂 Situation is often as important to me as the building itself, but I’d struggle to live in a high rise. A nice view/walking distance to a beach… I don’t need much more. The cabin made me smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked the variety of buildings, Sally. I hope you’re getting more time outdoors. Then again, you might have gotten hit by that Nor’Easter that was coming through just as we left the USA.


  7. I love all your thoughts about architecture and the ways in which we inhabit it. I don’t think it’s ironic at all that people enjoy “getting away” to simpler buildings. Most modern places to live don’t allow for the emotional needs of humans in terms of aesthetics, nature, and design. Instead, they’re focused on square footage and real estate return-on-investment. Your post reminded me of something Le Corbusier says in his “Towards a New Architecture”: ““What modern man wants is a monk’s cell, well-lit and heated, with a corner from which he may look at the stars.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful, thoughtful comment! I totally agree that people’s emotional needs are often not met in their homes. How sad. I am not at all sad that we’ve continually downsized once our son went to college. No regrets. Emotional needs take precedence. I love that quote too. Thanks so much for your thoughts, BT.

      Liked by 1 person

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