Dynamics of Performing Aesthetics in Architecture: A Critical Study


  • Pashmeena Vikramjit Ghom Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
  • Abraham George Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur




aesthetics, beauty, environmental psychology, architecture, aesthetic performance


In architecture, Venustas (aesthetics) is always considered an important attribute along with Firmitas (firmness) and Utilitas (usefulness). Pursuing aesthetics/ beauty is one of the architect’s primary roles. However, it is critical to comprehend ‘What is aesthetics?’ and its implications for the built-unbuilt environment and human beings. In a world where everything is changing, are the definitions, concepts, and parameters of aesthetics consistent? Is it subject to change over time? If so, should architectural students and professionals be aware of it and trained in it? This study aims to critically assess and analyse the dynamic aspects of aesthetics from 3300 BCE to present and establish the ‘best fit’ definition of aesthetics in architecture. The methodology used for the study is a mixed-method approach, a comprehensive analysis of relevant literature to investigate the origin of aesthetics and aesthetics in philosophy, environmental psychology and architecture. The aspects, criteria and sub-criteria identified from the analysis. The consensus is taken from expert interviews and a questionnaire survey (n=72). Findings reveal that aesthetics in architecture is dynamic/ ever-changing. It has nine contributing aspects that make aesthetics a performing aesthetics that emphasises the enhanced worth and value for money invested. These nine aspects are spatial organisation, functional efficiency, social, psychological, environmental, maintenance, sustainability, technology, and economics. 


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Pashmeena Vikramjit Ghom, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Ar. Pashmeena Vikramjit Ghom is pursuing PhD from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. She graduated from Sir. J. J College of Architecture, Mumbai (2004) and M. Arch in Construction management from Rachana Sansad College of Architecture, Mumbai (2010). She has 16 years of experience in academics, profession and research. Her research interests and architectural studies include contextual design, design education, integrated design, children and the built environment, regional and vernacular architecture, Smart villages and Smart cities.

Abraham George, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Dr Abraham George is head of the department in the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. He has graduated with First Rank in B. Arch from the University of Kerala in December 1986, secured M. Arch with Excellent Grade from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 1991 and Ph.D. in Development of symbolic tools for communication in Architecture from Calicut University, in 2005. He was awarded the John Crawford Scholarship by the Government of Australia, 1992 and Fulbright Research Fellowship 2003-04 with centre of research at the Department of Architecture, Cornell University, New York. The Nehru Trust for Cambridge Collections, Victoria Albert Museum, UK had awarded him research grant for 2005-06.


Archeyes. 2020. The Villa Savoye / Le Corbusier. Archeyes. https://archeyes.com/the-villa-savoye-le-corbusier/

Bahga, S., & Raheja, G. 2018. An account of critical regionalism in diverse building types in postcolonial Indian architecture. In Frontiers of Architectural Research, 7(4), 473-496. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foar.2018.09.001

Benevolo, L. 1984. History of Modern Architecture. MIT Press.

Berlyne, D. E. 1971. Aesthetics and psychobiology. Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Carney, R. 2021. Top 25 Examples of Renaissance Architecture. Architecture of Cities. https://architectureofcities.com/renaissance-architecture

CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0. 2020. Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels). UNESCO. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1005/

Chmiel, A., & Schubert, E. 2017. Back to the inverted-U for music preference: A review of the literature. Psychology of Music, 45(6), 886-909. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735617697507

Cho, J. Y. 2013. The process of aesthetic education in design studio: A layperson's acculturation to the architecture and design community. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 30(4), 328-343.

Christopher Benninger Office. 2019. Suzlon One Earth Global Corporate Headquarters / Christopher Benninger. Christopher Benninger Office. https://www.archdaily.com/466958/suzlon-one-earth-global-corporate-headquarters-christopher-benninger

Cityseeker. 2020. Neo-Gothic Religious Monument. Cityseeker. https://cityseeker.com/bruges/234475-sint-petrus-en-pauluskerk

Clericuzio, P. 2017. Victor Horta: Belgian Architect And Designer. The Art Story Contributors. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/horta-victor/

Cram, R. A. 2021. Gothic architecture. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/Gothic-architecture

Craven, J. 2018. Modern Architecture and Its Variations. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/modernism-picture-dictionary-4065245

Craven, J. 2019. Introduction to Byzantine Architecture. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-byzantine-architecture-4122211

Ewenstein, B., & Whyte, J. K. 2007. Visual representations as "artefacts of knowing." Building Research and Information, 35(1), 81-89. https://doi.org/10.1080/09613210600950377

Ghom, P. V., & George, A. 2021. Scientific rationality in Vaastu purusha mandala: a case study of Desh and Konkan architecture. New Design Ideas, 5(2), 195-209.

Gibson, J. J. 2014. The Theory of Affordances. In The People, Place, and Space Reader (p. 5). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Gill, N. S. 2019. Culture in the Ancient Roman Republic. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/roman-culture-117887

Gropius, W. 1937. The Architecture of Harvard University. Architectural Record 81, May 1937, 8-11.

Guilfoil, J. K. 1991. Jon Lang ' s Creating Architectural Theory. In Creating Architectural Theory (pp. 163-166).

Hillier, B. 1996. Time as an aspect of space. Space Is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture, 171-189.

History Hit. 2020. 10 of the Best Greek Temples. https://www.historyhit.com/guides/greek-temples-the-ultimate-guide/

Hohenadel, K. 2021. What Is Art Nouveau Architecture? The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-art-nouveau-architecture-5194926

Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. 1989. The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge University Press.

Lagueux, M. 2004. Ethics versus aesthetics in architecture. Philosophical Forum, 35(2), 117-133. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0031-806X.2004.00165.x

Lang, J. 1984. Formal Aesthetics and Visual Perception: Questions Architects Ask. JSTOR, 10(1), 66-73.

Laura. 2020. Turin's Lingotto Factory. Turin Italy Guide. http://www.turinitalyguide.com/fiat-lingotto-factory-turin/

Lethaby, W. R. 1935. Philip Webb and His Work. Oxford University Press.

Lori. 2021. Identifying House Styles: Prairie Style Homes. Sage Cottage Architects. https://www.sagecottagearchitects.com/prairie-style-homes/

Lynch, P. 2018. Facade of Michael Graves' Postmodernist Portland Building Dismantled in Preparation for Recladding. ArchDaily. https://www.archdaily.com/890490/michael-graves-postmodernist-portland-building-facade-dismantled-in-preparation-for-recladding

Mafi, N. 2016. Fascist Architecture Through the Ages. Architectural Digest. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/fascist-architecture-through-ages

Marin, M. M., Lampatz, A., Wandl, M., & Leder, H. 2016. Berlyne revisited: Evidence for the multifaceted nature of hedonic tone in the appreciation of paintings and music. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10(NOV2016), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00536

Marinho, R. 2020. The Extravagance and Drama of Baroque Architecture in 10 Pictures. Regia Marinho. https://regia-marinho.medium.com/the-extravagance-and-drama-of-baroque-architecture-in-10-pictures-b164f9dc713a

Martindale, C., Moore, K., & Borkum, J. 1990. Aesthetic Preference: Anomalous Findings for Berlyne ' s Psychobiological Theory Linked references are available on JSTOR for this article: Aesthetic preference: Anomalous findings for Berlyne ' s psychobiological theory. The American Journal of Psychology, 103(1), 53-80. https://doi.org/10.2307/1423259

Meijer, P. 2014. Practices for Preserving Post Modernism. P M A Findings. https://pmapdx.com/blog-pmafindings/1064/practices-for-preserving-post-modernism

Merin, G. 2013. AD Classics: The Einstein Tower / Erich Mendelsohn. ArchDaily. https://www.archdaily.com/402033/ad-classics-the-einstein-tower-erich-mendelsohn

Mishkov, A. 2020. Pombaline style - first earthquake-safe architecture in Europe. DocumentaryTube.Com. https://www.documentarytube.com/articles/pombaline-style-first-earthquake-safe-architecture-in-europe

Nia, H. A., Atun, R. A., & Rahbarianyazd, R. 2017. Perception based method for measuring the aesthetic quality of the urban environment. Open House International, 42(2), 11-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/OHI-02-2017-B0003

Palmer, A. L. 2008. Historical Dictionary of Architecture. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Peregoy, B. 2017. 6 of the Best Beaux Arts Buildings in Paris. Architecturaldigest. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/beaux-arts-buildings-paris

Roessler, K. K. 2012. Healthy Architecture! Can environments evoke emotional responses? Global Journal of Health Science, 4(4), 83-89. https://doi.org/10.5539/gjhs.v4n4p83

Roger Scruton. 1979. The Aesthetics of Architecture. In Methuen & Co Ltd. https://doi.org/10.5840/teachphil19814249


RPBW Architects. 2018. Renzo Piano - Lingotto Factory (1983-2003). Atlasofplaces. https://www.atlasofplaces.com/architecture/lingotto-factory/saint-petersburg.com. 2020. Catherine Palace. Saint-Petersburg.Com. http://www.saint-petersburg.com/pushkin/catherine-palace/

The Architect's Dairy.com. 2019. Top 10 Most Beautiful Universities in the World. The Architect's Dairy.Com. https://thearchitectsdiary.com/top-10-most-beautiful-universities-in-the-world/

Wagner, O. 1902. Modern Architecture (3rd editio). Getty Center Publication. http://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0226869393.html

Waistell, J. 2016. Can Environmental Aesthetics Promote Corporate Sustainability? Organization and Environment, 29(2), 175-193. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086026615592182