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  • Charles Hayes


The relationship between art and architecture is one that has fascinated designers and artists for centuries. The balance can be hard to get right, and the process can be a challenging one. In this insight article,Jan Dijkema discusses how art can be used to enhance architecture to create visually stunning environments.


the 42 Maslak mixed-use development in Istanbul has made the incorporation of artworks within the architecture a signature feature of the scheme, which is themed as ‘Artful Living’.

There has been debate for decades about whether architecture is art – with some passionately arguing that architecture is a form of self-expression and therefore an art form, and others decrying the notion, viewing it as a form of egotism which leads to ‘starchitect’ designs being parachuted into place without reference to social and geographic context or appropriateness.

If architecture is not art, and there’s a good argument to the contrary when one considers striking buildings such as the Baku Entertainment Centre in Azerbaijan or NOI Techpark in Bolzano, Italy, there is certainly a place for art within the architectural form. For thousands of years, buildings and spaces have been transformed by the way in which art was used within them – often resulting in a fusion which created spaces which were beautiful, awe-inspiring, or spiritually uplifting, depending on the intentions of the client and the architect.

The fusion of art and architecture can transcend the sum of its parts, but can also go incredibly wrong. Getting the balance right is, it can be argued, an art form in itself. The building designer has to have the skill and creative talent to envisage what the end result will be and how it will be interpreted by the people who see it.

Integrating art with architecture can help crown a successful scheme, as we found at the Mall of Qatar project in Doha. Art is important in Qatar, with the government and the royal family supporting it as an essential part of the country’s branding. It regards sculpture, painting, media art, film-making and, of course, architecture as being of the highest cultural importance.

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