Field of architecture is full of captivating shapes. Designing those shapes is a fascinating and demanding pursuit, requiring understanding the knowledge of both building industry and design in a wider sense. When, in one of our recent articles, we discussed George Nelson, an architect, and designer, we then discussed one of his books titled How to See (1977). In this book, Nelson argues looking at images to be an important to learn skill and goes on further saying that the ability to look should be a separate to learn discipline.

Not everyone is to become a designer or an architect but many of us may learn the skill of looking. Starting from Nelson’s idea, we do not want to educate but to motivate. Starting a new series dedicated to the subject of looking, we want to inspire to look at the architecture.

Beautiful waves and circular shapes are in our focus today.  We want to look at those shapes, consider what is their common aesthetical value and learn from it.

Let us think of arches for instance. Arches are not only beautiful as shapes but they also have certain structural advantages which makes them beneficial. The Romans, during their times of glory, used arches extensively to build aqueducts and bridges. Therefore, the use of an arch extends to more than two thousand years ago. Prior to the Romans, arches were used by Etruscans. Prior to Etruscans also by others. The structure of an arch is formulated in such a way that the arch’s weight is pressed outwards. This is what makes an arch a durable and attractive to use form from a technical point of view. Let us think of the arch’s aesthetics amongst other semi-circular and circular shapes in architecture.

Arches and waves do not tire our eyes when we look at them. These are fluid shapes. These are soft to the eye. We can follow those fluid shapes with our sight and we will feel peace and tranquillity.

Circles, when used as shapes, are symmetrically flawless. Used extensively in architecture in the past and also currently. Circle’s recent use is being focused more on its simplicity and geometrical form, usually taking away its symbolism of the past.

What is an aesthetical connection between the wave, a circle, and an arch? ‘Soft’, ‘fluid’ and ‘organic’ are probably the best descriptive words coming to mind in relation to all those shapes.

Arches, circles, and waves are graceful and balanced. They can appear all organic, modern and advanced, depending on the setting and the overall form.

Looking at images make us realize that it is not only the forms themselves that are to be admired. It is also the overall image composition. The arrangements of lines, shapes and symmetrical or asymmetrical forms are creating the image composition. When we are starting to focus our attention on those details, we notice the complexity of the composition and depth of the form. We are starting to learn about seeing.