Is Contemporary Architecture Inspired Art or Plagiarism of the Past?

Architecture is a vast subject. When you study Architecture, you deal with science, history, engineering and art. As such, there are very few people who are renowned Architects, who actually leave their mark on the world.

Architectural students and Professional Architects face a dilemma.

  1. How important is it to study and learn History of Architecture?
  2. What is the use of such a subject that glorifies the past while belittling the present?
  3. What is the need for the past when our minds are capable of creating wonders in the present?

Inspired Art or an Act of Plagiarism

Actually, human beings have an emotional attachment and nostalgia towards the past. Sometimes, thy demand incorporation of old architectural styles in their buildings simple in reverence to their historical culture and traditions. Hence, it is a common sight to see the influence of historical architecture on residential homes and commercial complexes. Architects try to integrate many elements of the past into the present.

We’ve all seen large community halls or religious buildings borrowing heavily from the past. We see influences of Old Castles, Gothic Churches, Moorish Domes and Towering Temples in some of the new designs. What a client demands, that Architect must give. Client pays all the money. So, he has the final say, no matter what the Architect says or thinks. Spanish-type Villas and Mansions are a rage these days. There were days when clients demanded Classical designs for their homes. Some others prefer a Modernist touch to their dream abodes.

Each building has a different function, different requirements, hence should have a different unique identity and look. But this idealism is not plausible in the real world. In the end, it all depends upon the choice of the architect. Sometimes, to please the clients, you have to “borrow” elements from classic structures. There is no getting around it. We just have to find a way to integrate modern designs with ancient art in a seamless fashion.

It may not be wholly inaccurate to call it plagiarism. But its never a complete carbon copy of the past. Just like we accept ReMix songs as fair use, likewise we should accept past inspired building designs as a part of human knowledge and growth.

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