Making Architecture is the same as Making Art or Music

All creative endeavours possess the same process.

Whether it is a song, poetry, art…what’s the difference between creating these and architecture?

I find myself talking about the three main things that constitute a piece of academic writing:

Content, Structure and Format.

For example, when I review my students dissertation which is an academic piece, I am actually reviewing it at these three levels.

A good designer should be able to be a Critic of architecture. When you are a critic, you will need to know where you are coming from and you need to know what to say and when to stop (you have said enough to prove your point), so that the recipient could engage with you.

  • Content = topic / subject matter;
  • Structure = design / arrangement;
  • Format = presentation / narrative;


Just analyse again Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” song that was recreated and sung by David Cook:

Its the same content as the original piece, but the arrangement has been changed from rock to ballad (fast to slow) and presented (performed) in the David Cook’s style.

It is the same with a good architectural design or an art piece.


Some art is pure research, like this Impressionist painting by Cezanne from this link.

Cezanne was trying to explore form and space. Here Cezanne was continually experimenting with the ‘essence’ of art. In his still life paintings like this one – he is interested in formal values – space; perspective created by planes of color. As the description in the link below will tell you the fruits have no sensual qualities (we don’t want to touch, don’t get the feeling we could smell them) they are just decorative objects he makes use of to work out what interested him: the place of an object in space: how much space it takes up, the relationship between objects etc. Don’t expect to find a specific reason for this particular painting, it was just part of Cezanne’s search to find the fundamentals in painting;

“Paul Cézanne, one of the creators of modern art, was called the “solidifier of Impressionism”. And indeed he does not draw his picture before painting it: instead, he creates space and depth of perspective by means of planes of color, which are freely associated and at the same time contrasted and compared. The facets which are thus produced create not just one but many perspectives, and in this way volume comes once again to dominate the composition, no longer a product of the line but rather of the color itself. His still-life, in their simplicity and delicate tonal harmony, are a typical work and thus ideal for an understanding of Cézanne’s art…In his pursuit of the essence of art, Cézanne had to suppress earthly delights.”

So here again Cezanne deals with content, structure and format, albeit the same process with the same topics that others before him have countlessly produced ie still life paintings. However, the structure (arrangement or more precisely, composition and technique) is different and the this includes how it was presented (format), not in the classical or romantic way of the artist before him. He was the artist of his time.


This Urban Mosque is a Design Thesis project by a 5th Year/Final Year student of architecture Ahmad Zuhaili. Here he had done a mosque, very much a topic that has been done before. His mosque has a different angle (design / scheme / structure / arrangement) than other mosques with a common presentation or format.

So in conclusion, I am arguing that all creative endeavours possess the same process. So we must inspire from art, music, writings and all creative endeavours apart from architecture, in order to create good architectural design and ideas.

Next time, I will attempt to discuss “The Art of Seduction in Architecture” :-p


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