With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I was thinking about how I would be able to link architecture and romance together for the month of February. To be honest I thought I might struggle to find something with the ‘traditional’ symbol of love – the heart, but then I remembered that somewhere I had read about a building that Frank Lloyd Wright had designed on a heart shaped island in the middle of Lake Mahopac, 50 miles from Manhattan.
I have always admired Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 532 and who is considered to be one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century, with the reputation of also being one of the most influential.
For Wright nature was his guide and inspiration, a philosophy he called organic architecture. He attempted to integrate spaces into a coherent whole, uniting the site and the structure, he used organic architecture as a union between the context and the structure. His belief was that a building was a product of its place and time, intimately connected to that particular moment – something that I hold true when designing buildings.
He had a love affair with new technologies, eager to be the first architect to have experimented with virtually any new material, his willingness to experiment and the many innovations that he undertook during the construction of his buildings led him to being recognised in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as ‘the greatest American architect of all time’.
The £12m price tag puts the island out of reach for most and I wanted something a little more down to earth, I have always appreciated the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Scottish architect, designer and artist who excelled in all of these areas. I remembered the beautiful window feature that he designed at Queen’s Cross Church. The blue hearts infilled with individually coloured small panes of glass, with subtle changes of hue bring the image to life, his bold design is a fusion of traditional Gothic window architecture with flamboyant Art Nouveau tracery.
I’ve always been inspired by the designs of Mackintosh, the way he combined progressive modern styling with the spirit of romanticism, especially his early work with his organic-inspired symbolic decoration. He created many of the best loved and most influential buildings, furniture and decorative schemes of the early 20th century and sealed his reputation as one of the most important architects and designers of all time.
He was the main representative of Art Nouveau in the United Kingdom and had considerable influence on European design and few designers can claim to have created a unique and individual style that is so instantly recognisable.
Obviously working with historic buildings, I am always looking for the truth – the genuine or original parts of the building, sometimes it is difficult to date or clarify for certain. The following link is the legend of St Valentine, is it truth or fiction, I don’t know for sure, but it is a romantic thought!
Finally, and purely for fun – according to Hollywood, architects are the poster boys of romance – maybe someone should tell my wife? Who doesn’t remember Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle?!