Can Architects Learn From Music?

We have been pondering about something in the ACA office: 

Can Architects Learn From Music?  

So, we asked Alice Edgar, who is working with us whilst on a break from university, to find out…..

Alice is currently studying for grade 7 violin and studies Architecture at the University of Sheffield.

In fact, she recently presented her findings to the ACA team over lunch.  What she uncovered, we found mind-boggling!

So what can we learn?

First of all, Alice described Architecture as the arrangement of components in space, while music as the arrangement of sound in time

Furthermore, she explained that the two disciplines share common terms like rhythm, harmony and composition. Next, Alice posed the question:

Can we explore this common ground further to benefit the users of the buildings we design?

Many have recognised the common ground between architecture and music.  For instance, Vitruvius stated “the architect should know music in order to have a grasp of canonical and mathematical relations”.  Also, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described architecture as “frozen music”.

Historically, significant architecture and music has often been religious in nature and their composition complies with strict rules regarding their form.

This relationship can also be seen in more modern music genres and architecture. For example, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Jazz, or the Pompidou Centre Paris and Techno.

Could this theory also apply to the interior of buildings and the emotions and atmospheres they create?


Can Architects Learn From Music?

The ability of music to influence people is incredible.

It can aid in healing, change your mood and motivate you in a way that other art forms struggle to replicate.

We notice this in films, where music helps the audience feel the story and emotion of the characters.

A simple browse through Spotify clearly demonstrates the breadth with which music can impact our moods with playlists such as happiness, sadness, motivation, heartbreak, coping with loss, energy boosters, confidence boosters etc.

Composers use a variety of techniques to create these effects.

According to Alex Caruso, who has explored this theme over the years, it is possible for architects to learn from these techniques and harness the power of music to positively improve the lives of the people who use their buildings.

Therefore, ACA’s designs schools that help improve student confidence and motivation, homes that lift people’s moods, work spaces which improve productivity and healthcare facilities that aid in patients’ recovery.



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