“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than understanding. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”
You might think a quotation like this is from an unbelievable artist — possibly Pablo Picasso or even J.R.R. Tolkien. But it’s credited to Albert Einstein — a surprising and insightful announcement in the theoretical physicist. Imagination gives form to understanding, brings awareness into life and expands our planet — painting it in bright colours and adding taste to dullness.
We’re all born with fantastic creativity, but most often lose it sometime before maturity, much to our detriment. I remember watching my young sons fighting off imaginary bad guys and winning great struggles in our garden, wishing I could see the world that they so clearly saw around them. I watch my 7-year-old daughter tiptoeing through our garden, singing and twirling like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, walking into a world only she can see inside her mind.
When creativity is added to architecture, an ordinary design idea becomes Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, frozen and habitable. Frankly, most buildings lack this very important ingredient. Our constructed landscape is grotesquely unimaginative, and we know that, consciously or unconsciously.
These eight architectural jobs and one landscape exhibit great creativity in distance, construction, materials, work and future-oriented thinking. Too often we think the only way to enclose space (create architecture) is using four walls and a flat ceiling: a box. Through imagination that is employed, these examples offer possibilities.
Jeff Green Photography
Imagination in Space
The ceiling of the Sheats-Goldstein home by John Lautner is not level, plumb or smooth. In fact, the waffle concrete surface is not only ceiling but also wall. A smooth concrete surface could have sufficed, but the waffle pattern creates pattern and rhythm. Bottles set in the concrete produce small skylights that play with the sunlight and throw ever-changing patterns on the floor. This is a masterpiece of creativity.
Wall and ceiling unite to form an organically conceived cocoon within this second space. The rhythm of inside patterns marches you along through the nonlinear space, obliterating architectural stereotypes.
More about this Small house in Sweden
Arthur Dyson Architects
Imagination in Structure
Definitely a box on this mountain could have been enough to be a home. But this iconic design offers more. The construction is kinetic, creating a home that is prepared to take off and fly at any time.
The builder imagined a construction more inspirational than plumb walls and degree ceilings will let.
Shinberg Levinas Architectural Layout
Imagination in Materials
A display wall and entrance become sculpture as landscape and architecture marry.
The landscaped screen wall changes with sunlight angles and wind direction, casting a play of shadows and light on the floor. A glass box implies entry, gently defining one’s path.
Denilson Machado – MCA Estudio
Two simple materials define this entrance — materials that contrast yet complement one another. The entrance, made from the same material as the surrounding wall, lies nearly hidden when closed.
More about this minimalist modern box in São Paulo
Princeton Architectural Press
Imagination in Role
The architect’s creativity created this small home to immediately react to its exterior environment. Walls that shield the glass can be raised or lowered depending upon the home’s solar demand or desirable views. The home’s flexible nature and small footprint make it operate in diverse climates.
The Turett Collaborative
Yes, this is a slide. Why did I add a picture of a slide? Since I simply can’t envision a better and more inventive approach to get from my office into the kitchen.
NBC Universal, Inc..
Imagination of the upcoming
You’ll recognize this if you have seen Oblivion, a recent Tom Cruise movie. Although I found the movie disappointing (sorry, you might disagree with me under), I discovered the architecture intriguing, beautiful and curiously functional for its future intent. To put it differently, the architecture appeared believable. Raised high above the floor (because bad things live on the ground), this home in the movie lyrically floats among the clouds.
More about the architecture of Oblivion
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
This image is not of architecture, but it provokes the imagination all the same. The route turns, creating a sense of adventure and wonder, the products of our creativity. We wonder what’s just around that corner, what’s just over the next hill.
Inside her book Fight to Maintain Creativity Alive, L.A. Chandlar writes, “Maybe [creativity] is a view of heart, of openness. Watching and waiting patiently for all those stolen moments. But, I think, it is also about danger and not dithering about so much that you don’t ever make any choices, nor experience anything new at all. Getting aware — really creating the room to listen to the bittersweet symphony of existence. To locate the tiny pieces of Wonderland left to us”
Imagination creates miracle, as miracle does creativity.