Since the dawn of time, architecture has been re-telling the story of humanity on the changing walls of history; starting from the cave writings of the stone age, to the imposing Gothic churches of medieval Europe which challenged gravity with unprecedented heights of stone and glass.
Ask yourself this; what would be the point of designing a building or a compound, only to have it torn down and modified by the people leasing it? At IDIA, we make an effort to know our clients and understand their true needs, in order to build something that can competently satiate it.
Once we have an understanding of the client’s background, taste, needs and inclinations; we can define an idea to anchor our design. Why is this place needed? What makes it useful? And above all, what makes it absolutely irreplaceable for its inhabitants?
With a core definition in place, our team of professionals brainstorm its potential, examining it in terms of design, sustainability, feasibility and implementation until a spark is born.
at the ready;
Our designers, conceptualizers, architects and everyday visionaries put the design direction to paper and stone. Like every other artwork, a vital part of architecture is its on-ground expression, and its reception from the people that will give it life and lace it with memories.
What good would a community complex be if it has an expiry date? Trends come and go, but timeless design adapts to its surroundings. At IDIA, we believe that time is a vital factor in architecture, so we make sure that our projects are launched ready to fulfill their lifetime potential.
The Three Pillars of Timeless Design
Design is an ancient instinct. The caveman designed his first hunting tool, crafted his first piece of clothing, and decorated his first cave home with his very own life story. Ever since it started out, design has been personal. We may not have a record of everything that mankind has designed to date, but we definitely have a record of history’s most timeless designs.
It all started with those etches on the wall. <
But what really makes a design stand the test of time?
What is it in a specific design that can make us feel awe and inspire us for centuries after it was made? What are the defining qualities of timeless design?
In an attempt to reveal the secrets of timeless design and unlock the formula that would help us recreate it, we inevitably reached an answer to a question we never asked. Designers simply have a different approach to life than the rest of us, and it is reflected in their designs.
Design has never really been a profession, it was always a different approach to life. Art, since it started out, has always imitated life. And art, like life, has many disciplines.
Imhotep, the great Egyptian architect of the Saqqara Pyramid, has been considered the father of medicine and Chancellor of the King of Egypt amongst his many titles. Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest artists in history, was also an innovator and architect.
All great artists are artists in many ways, and design is one that wears many lenses as it looks on to life. Through those many lenses, a holistic approach to life is given a way, and timeless design is created.
Humans are the drivers of great design; whether that great design happens to be a shelter, a tool or a service. Great designs are also always centered on human life, and this is why a designer’s attention should always be focused around human beings.
Starting from its use, to their experience of the design, and all the way to their engagement with the design story; great design satisfies a human need. To those who have visited Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo – an Islamic architectural icon built during the Mamluk era – the place serves as a clear lesson of a great human experience.
Upon entry, the visitor is transferred to a spiritually higher place through a dramatic sequence of spaces that lead to the main prayer area and a radical display of light. This experience was designed to prepare the visitor for a change of mood.
This is common with religious buildings. In their designs, the architects were always presented with that challenge; how to deliver the experience of a place to its visitors. Gothic cathedrals are a great example of the story behind architecture. Through its walls, windows, high arches and violent combination of cement and glass; people are connected to the place through etches on the wall.
The human story is always a main factor of design success. With their stories on the walls, people feel engaged. The place gives them the space to think, and its function helps them satisfy their needs. Human-centric design inevitably creates harmony between people and their environment, people and their families, as well as people and the whole universe.
So what are the defining qualities of timeless design?
First comes harmony.
The concept of harmony goes all the way back to the universe itself. The language of the universe is made of numbers. As the numbers move on through time, they create sounds, and once sounds are in harmony, they create music. Similarly, when numbers move in space, they create geometry, and when this geometry holds the right ratios, it creates a higher level of geometry; some people even call it sacred geometry.
Patterns are another factor of creating harmony.
Designed patterns have always been fascinating for designers, since different cultures throughout history have created their own defining pattern that differentiated them from other civilizations.
But all cultures had a design pattern; be it the Pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans, the Celtics, the Arabs or the Chinese. Patterns create harmony, and harmony is essential for human beings.
To survive, human beings need to be in harmony with their environment; otherwise they would not feel comfortable or have a feeling of belonging. That’s why designers have a huge role to play by creating harmonious designs that imitate life.
Harmony is also present in nature.
In nature, balance comes from a constant dialogue between day and night, dark and light, motion and stillness; and life blossoms on the balance between them.
For that reason, an organic feel is another cornerstone of timeless design.
Old civilizations respected this balance. The Chinese portrayed it in their Yin/Yang symbol, and the Egyptians in their Ka/Ba symbol. In design, we have to create the same balance through matching contrast. Once architecture creates balance across all human senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – it becomes timeless.
Finally, when the organic forces of nature come together in harmony through design, the last ingredient presents itself; energy.
Similarly, energy is how architecture balances with nature in order to be timeless. By giving back to nature, architecture is made part of it, and the energy flows through your building and goes back to its source. Back when lighting was limited, buildings were designed to be naturally lit. Courtyards were also used to help light and air penetrate spaces naturally, helping architecture reach out to the universe and ask for help.
When the three ingredients come together, timeless design is created.
To this end, architecture has an important task of keeping us connected to the universe, like our grandfathers and great grandfathers did with the first piece of timeless design.
This school of thought constitutes what is known as the “Holistic” approach; encompassing life itself, and creating timeless design.
Through etches on the wall.