The originality found within the realm of architectural design has been the source of inspiration for a myriad of creatives, who seek to go beyond the limits of their visions. In the development of aesthetic preferences across the centuries, we see history etched within each building, grand and humble for all to experience. In my interview with Michael Asante, an architecture student who avidly sketches the cityscape, we explore the complex, winding avenues that imagination and reality transport us to.
Living in London has an enormous effect on the intellect — the clash of cultures, sounds and sights invites multiplicity to thrive, which is ideal for the porous mind. In his approach to design, Asante observed that memory and experience affect the way he views architecture, which then manifests itself in varied ways. A ‘connection with a space or place, due to the combination of memories and experiences [are needed]…[to evoke] familiarity as I can relate myself to the space. For example, a church, brutalist council flats [and] greenery.’ On one hand, there is a sense of vibrancy and immediacy felt, as a city in transition with incongruent buildings offers a unique mode of living. However, alienation plays a part too, as Asante observed that another reaction [he has] is close to indifference, caused by a lack of connection, a lack of understanding [and] perhaps a lack of experience. An odd tension is at play, which ultimately acts as a force which fuels the creative process.
During the sketching process, there are things that catch the eye — the inconsistencies and consistencies of form transfer on the pages of the drawer; the movement of the eye, camera-like in its absorption of the scenery, takes each feature in an instant. The impressionistic nature of sketches reveals the dynamic nature of design, which takes on a fluctuating movement between particularity and generality. Asante observed that ‘the tendency to appreciate harmony stems from a Western upbringing, but as I begin to draw, I begin to focus on details, aspects that I would never notice at first glance. I enjoy seeing the disharmony in intended harmony, and perhaps these things, these ‘blemishes’ I like to highlight within my sketches. Indeed, there is a beauty that emerges from aesthetic disorganisation, which expands beyond the artistic and is found within all aspects of life, and accepting this is probably the first step to appreciating [unpredictability].’
Anxiety looms above the creative, when the question of emulation comes to surface; the shadow of the “Greats” stretches far and beyond, which at times engulfs the innovative aspects of design. Asante understands that ‘the legacies of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright are to be looked at, learned from, but not emulated so directly within our current, 21st century situation, because those [older] concepts [of architectural design] prevail[ed] as they addressed issues relating to that period within the 20th century.’
Personally, he has ‘not [yet] found a style that [he feels] ‘at home͛‘..at this point.’ However, it is less an issue of the architectural elements used, and more about suggesting and creating a new type of habitation which is relevant to the socio-political issues of the 21st century. New challenges will always be encountered, and being flexible is key, as being anchored down in the familiar can detract from the potential of an imaginative mind.
The transitions of architectural designs through the ages may seem to be monolithic, however, it is in the quotidian that creatives find comfort. The great and small changes which occur within our cityscapes displays a world in motion, as each sketch provides a subtle social commentary that reveals the interwoven nature of life and design.