What kind of architecture do you like?

I remember how, somewhere in the first week of my internship, my boss asked the question "what kind of architecture do you like?" at lunchtime - directed at me. The entire table went silent, so did I. I couldn't quite come up with a decent answer. I mean: there are tons of architects or pieces of architecture that I wholeheartedly love, but to say that I like a certain kind of architecture? I had trouble with that back then.

Lately, I've been thinking about this again. And I am a sucker for lists (just like that dude from High Fidelity).
I think that I can narrow things down to a list of five architects that have inspired me the most thus far. It's not the most spectacular list or anything, but I think that the works of these people have made an impact on my way of thinking about architecture. The list is not in a particular order, by the way. This was hard enough as it is already.

Adolf Loos
Loos is, for me, the master of the interior. He knows how to combine different worlds, different atmospheres, different materials into one language. His interiors give space to different ways of inhibiting them. Where Le Corbusier was making a machine to fit to the perfect (and thus abstract) concept of man, Loos was making buildings that could be used by various individuals, according to their own individual needs. His best projects are (in my eyes) therefore the villas, such as Haus Müller and Haus Moller.

Alvar Aalto
Sense of place? creating places? organic flowing forms? Cozy, warm interiors? Integrating landscape and building? All of these can be found in the works of Aalto. Every building he did is unique, but still fits into a coherent body of work. I think I can write ten blog entries solely about Aalto. Something I will probably do sometime soon...

Gunnar Asplund
The neo-classicist cum modernist from Sweden, who still has a huge impact on Scandinavian architecture today. In strong forms, Asplund is able to include various influences. But his work is not so much about form to me: it's about humanist functionalism: buildings that aren't flashy, but function as they should - with an extra quality to it. It's not the strong, machine-like functionalism, but the calm, humane functionalism - if that makes my point clear...
If there's one project in which his genius can be seen, it's not so much his famous Stockholm library or Götheborg city hall, but Skogskyrkogården cemetary in Stockholm, in which Asplund integrated existing landscape into the layout, creating a tranquil and beautiful place.

Enric Miralles
Architecture is not static. Architecture is not an image in a magazine. It's a building to move through and around. All of the designs of Miralles show that: the complexity can only be experienced, not seen. The building transforms the surrounding, the surrounding influences the building and the users and spectators shape the experience.

Herzog & De Meuron
Materials, materials, materials. I don't think there are architects to be found that have a better sense of artistic use of materials. Their buildings are not as much cladded with some kind of materials, their buildings wear skins that become them on all possible scales.

I didn't go into each of the architects (or their projects) too deeply - I will leave that for later. It's pretty hard to describe the quality of architects in general, I think. Maybe it's more clear if I start posting about specific buildings of them?

And what about you, my dear reader? Can you make a list of five influential architects on your way of thinking about architecture?


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