Beauty and our home part. 3

author: Mieczysław Aleksander Sowiński, MA


Photo No. 12 Single-family house, Fuller Dome. Source:    - access date: September 7, 2009

At some point in his life on earth, man decided to build his houses with the use of wood. One can only guess that it is this decision that we owe to today's shapes of our houses, including single-family houses. To this day, in areas where it is difficult to find wood to be built, houses have round shapes, e.g. Eskimo igloos, Maasai mud huts or Mongolian yurts.


Photo No. 14 Construction of a Masai hut. Source:  - access date: September 7, 2009


Photo No. 13 Mongolian yurt. Source:  - access date: September 7, 2009

Photo No. 15 Eskimo igloo. Source:  - access date: September 7, 2009

From an aesthetic point of view, the round shapes of the buildings fit better into the landscape than today's buildings, full of sharp edges and bends. They are connected with the surrounding nature by obliquities of which there is too much in nature.


Photo No. 16 Dome house outside Poland. Source:    - access date: September 7, 2009

In search of organic shapes for buildings, I reached a bit back, to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The flagship architect of this period was Antonio Gaudi, whose works implement the thesis according to which straight and wavy lines "live" in symbiosis. During his studies, he drew heavily on the achievements of Far Eastern architecture, the culture of which I mentioned in the earlier part of my work. He grew up on the works of Viollet-le-Duc, William Morris and John Ruskin, whose teaching about the "natural" hierarchy he followed:

Artificial flowers are more noble than artificial stones, artificial animals than flowers; artificial human forms are the noblest of all animal forms.[1]

In his reflections, Gaudi went a little further, accepting the biblical visions of the apocalypse as an even more complete picture of beauty, implementing it in many of his works.

Here are some examples of Gaudi's organic architecture:


Photo No. 17 The Mill tenement house. Source:  - access date: September 7, 2009

Photo No. 18 The Battlo tenement house. Source: - access date: September 7, 2009

He was equally concerned about the functional side of his works, building various models in his studio and making innovative experiments. They are the work of human hands and therefore many imperfections can be found in them, but that is not what counts. It was important to actively try to include beauty in the substance of the building itself, in its walls, roof and structures. The sculptures were often fixed elements of the building, it is impossible to admire them separately from the whole. Gaudi is the greatest swordsman of the line, fencing with a pencil, not only doing the impossible in his studio, but also transforming the reality around us into a substitute for beauty and perfection.

Among Polish thinkers, Leon Chwistek dealt with practical solutions in this matter in the 1960s. He wanted to trigger a nationwide discussion on the issue of the ubiquitous straight line in architecture.

The starting point is a large inner hall, 5 floors high, surrounded by a semicircular mantle of rooms with glazed porches tapering towards the top. This principle must be carried out outside in such a way that the building forms a compact, homogeneous mass entwined with curved lines, thrown from the foundations up at a single swing, as if by the force of a fountain. […] Above its west side rises the central headland, presenting an isosceles spherical triangle similar to a halved orange quarter […] The veranda is entirely intended for the restaurant room. In the middle storeys, where the lower verandas cut into the ceiling of the building like a crinoline in the waist of a woman […] My point is for a new style to emerge in Poland.[2]

It is impossible to say with certainty what lines Chwistek intended to use most in his project. Certainly, his assumption was that the building would fit into the surrounding landscape of the Tatra Mountains. This is what all so-called organic projects are about, where by improving or imitating nature, the building is made a shell of a living organism, the life-giving powers of which reside in the people who use it. Sławińska mentions the upcoming fashion for organic designs:

In construction, there are forms that are similar in structure to natural structures, such as turtle shells, eggs, reptile shells, nut shells, etc. They have numerous advantages. They are light, which allows the user to move freely, and strong enough to protect him. Famous builders consider such structures as excellent models for building structures. They sometimes call them "organic", contrasting them with "mechanical" rectilinear structures. In their opinion, only organic constructions have valuable technical and aesthetic advantages.[3]


Photo No. 19 House in the mountains. Source:  - access date: September 7, 2009


Man looks for peace and respite, and especially he would like it in an asylum to which he returns, overwhelmed with work. He rests through contact with people close to him, but it is also influenced by the surrounding nature and buildings that breathe warmth and coziness. The sharp edges of today's buildings are disturbing and cannot be explained otherwise than as a decline after the last two hundred generations.

Let's take a last look at nature. We must be aware of its constant evolution to better and better forms and solutions. It is a very long process in relation to our life, almost imperceptible by us. It is by no means a perfect constructor and it does not lack features that are considered flaws among people. Stanisław Lem wrote about its imperfections in his wonderful Pasquil for evolution[4]. Our clinging to geometric shapes means that we not only create an unreal world around us, the source of which is our imagination, but also act against the nature that surrounds us and against ourselves. We carry a substitute for the reality that surrounds us and we want to build this reality around us:

Thus, in the pre-shaping phase, the organic fold always comes from a different fold, at least from within the same type of organization: each fold comes from a different fold, a fold from a fold[5].

However, in today's architecture, each angularity gives rise to another angularity, one straight line transforms into another. When we find out somewhere

Photo No. 20 The apartment building and its architect Touo Ito. Source:,85298,6426336.html?i=0  - access date: September 7, 2009

breaking this pattern, what we see makes us delighted and we are inclined to talk about beauty, but in fact it is only a substitute for what we are able to build, how we are able to express our positive feelings.

It seems necessary to introduce an aesthetic aspect to the current definition of a building and, despite the lack of a uniform definition of beauty, impose on current investors the condition of meeting the requirements set by a special commission, which on behalf of the local authorities will take care of the aesthetic dimension of architecture in their area. It sounds very loud and revolutionary, but the problem is so swollen that, in my opinion, it requires not only debate but also utilitarian endeavors.

Due to the naturally demanding visual symbiosis between the organic world and the man-made world, namely single-family houses, today's architecture needs a revival. The multitude of ubiquitous nature forces us to adapt to its shapes. The most common shape in nature is a wavy line, but there is no straight line. I pointed out to today's architecture its exaggerated passion for idealistic geometric figures, and at the same time, in order to achieve the effect of universally accepted beauty - that is, the pleasure that comes from admiring it - I tried to persuade it to use the wavy line more often.

Due to the small number of publications on the discussed problem, I think that it will not be noticed soon, let alone put into practice. In the United States and Japan, entire settlements of rounded or domed houses are built. Paradoxically, due to the low cost of their production in developed countries, they do not enjoy much interest, and in some places have even been hailed as homes for the poorest group of society. However, I am glad that they occur more and more often, and I am convinced that with time we will become more and more convinced of them. After all, it is impossible to change something that we have unknowingly tolerated for hundreds of generations, agreeing to more and more compromises.


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[1] Gijs van Hensbergen, Gaudi, Zysk i S-ka Poznań 2003, p. 63

[2] L. Chwistek, The multiplicity of realities in art, Warsaw 1960 pp. 77-88.

[3] J. Sławińska, Expression of forces in modern architecture, Arkady Warsaw 1997, p. 67.

[4] S. Lem, Summa Technologiae, Krakow 1964.

[5] G. Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the BaroqueMinnesota Press Minneapolis 2004, p. 10.

Now with preformism an organic fold always ensues from another fold, at least on the inside from a same type of organization: every fold originates from a fold, plica ex plic

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