Beauty and our homes part. 3

author: Mieczysław Aleksander Sowiński, MA


photo. No. 12 Single-family house, Fuller's dome. Source:    – date of access: September 07, 2009.

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


photo. No. 14 Construction of a Masai mud hut. Source:  – date of access: September 07, 2009.


photo. No. 13 Mongolian yurt. Source:  – date of access: September 07, 2009.

photo. No. 15 Eskimo igloo. Source:  – date of access: September 07, 2009.

From the 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 ovals, of which there is more than enough in nature.


photo. No. 16 Dome House outside Poland. Source:    – date of access: September 07, 2009.

In search of the organic shapes of the building, I reached a bit back, to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The flagship architect of this period was Antonio Gaudi, in whose works the thesis is realized, according to which straight and wavy lines "live" in symbiosis. During his studies, he drew heavily on the achievements of the architecture of the Far East, the culture of which I mentioned in the earlier part of my work. He was brought up on the works of Viollet-le-Duc, William Morris, and John Ruskin, whose doctrine of "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 thoughts, Gaudi went a little further, accepting the biblical visions of the apocalypse as an even more complete picture of beauty, realizing it in many of his works.

Here are some examples of Gaudí's organic architecture:

photo. No. 17 Mill's tenement house. Source:  – date of access: September 07, 2009.

photo. No. 18 Battlo tenement house. Source: – date of access: September 07, 2009.

With equal care, he strove for the functional side of his works, building various mock-ups in his studio and making innovative experiments. They are the work of human hands and therefore you can find many imperfections in them, but that's not what counts. An active attempt to inscribe beauty into the substance of the building itself, into its walls, roof and constructions, was important. Sculptures were often permanent elements of the building, it is impossible to admire them in isolation from the whole. Gaudi is the greatest swordsman of the line, fencing with a pencil, not only did impossible things in his workshop, but also transformed the reality that surrounds us into a substitute for beauty and perfection.

Among Polish thinkers, Leon Chwistek dealt with practical solutions in this topic in the 1960s. He wanted to provoke a nationwide discussion, the subject of which would be the problem of the ubiquitous straight line in architecture.

The starting point is a large inner hall, 5 stories high, surrounded by a semi-circular mantle of rooms with glazed verandas, narrowing towards the top. This principle must be carried out outside in such a way that the building creates a compact, uniform body entwined with curved lines thrown upwards from the foundations, as if by the power of a fountain. […] Above its western side there is a central promontory, representing an isosceles spherical triangle similar to a halved quarter of an orange […] The veranda is entirely intended for the restaurant room. In the middle storeys, where the lower verandas cut into the ceiling of the building, as if a crinoline in a woman's waist […] My goal is to create a new style in Poland.[2]

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

In construction, there are forms similar in their structure to natural structures, such as turtle shells, egg shells, 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. Well-known constructors treat such structures as excellent models for building structures. Sometimes they call them "organic", contrasting them with "mechanical" rectilinear constructions. In their opinion, only organic constructions have valuable technical and aesthetic advantages.[3]


photo. No. 19 A house in the mountains. Source:  – date of access: September 07, 2009.


Man seeks peace and respite, and he would especially like it in an asylum, to which he returns exhausted by 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 legacy from the last almost two hundred generations.

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

Thus, in the preforming phase, an organic fold always comes from another fold, at least from within the same type of organization: each fold comes from another fold, a fold from a fold[5].

However, in today's architecture, each angularity breeds another angularity, one straight line turns into another. When we see somewhere

photo. No. 20 An apartment building and its architect Touo Ito. Source:,85298,6426336.html?i=0  – date of access: September 07, 2009.

breaking this pattern, what we see arouses admiration in us 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 the aesthetic aspect into the current definition of a building and, despite the lack of a uniform definition of beauty, to impose on current investors the condition of meeting the requirements set for them by a special commission which, on behalf of the territorial authorities, will take care of the aesthetic dimension of architecture in its area. This sounds very grandiose and revolutionary, but the problem is so bloated that, in my opinion, it requires not only debate, but also utilitarian measures.

Due to the naturally demanding visual symbiosis between the organic world and the man-made one, specifically 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 no straight line. I pointed out today's architecture for its exaggerated love of idealistic geometric figures, and at the same time, in order to achieve the effect of universally accepted beauty - that is, the pleasure of admiring it - I tried to encourage more frequent use of the wavy line.

Due to the small number of publications on the discussed problem, I believe that it will not be noticed soon, let alone implemented. In the United States and Japan, whole neighborhoods of rounded or domed houses are being built. Paradoxically, due to the low cost of their production in developed countries, they are not popular, and in some places they have even been hailed as homes for the poorest group of society. I am glad, however, that they are becoming more and more common and I am convinced that over 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 increasingly far-reaching compromises.

Read also: … and now Kashubia


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

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

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

[4] S.Lem, Summa technologies, Cracow 1964.

[5] G. Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, Minnesota 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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