T he Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will be holding its fifth annual research symposium next month, which will focus on one of the basic principles of architecture: beauty.
Architecture is often judged on its success in creating beauty, yet beauty is a slippery, uncomfortable and divisive subject. It is both a universal good and an enduring source of controversy, but what does it really mean?
"We as a society are uneasy about discussing beauty, both on an individual and a professional level. The word rarely features in modern political discourse, and the concept can be dismissed as arbitrary, subjective, unnecessary, unaffordable, or elitist. Debates purporting to be about the beauty of the built environment often turn out, on closer inspection, to be about style, taste or political symbolism," said a RIBA spokesperson.
So how can beauty be both understood and applied? Do beauty and wealth go hand in hand, and if so why? Do we need our places to be more beautiful, and what would happen if they were? Can we value beauty, measure it or define its role in policy? Can anyone hoping to be taken seriously argue in favour of beauty? And what is the responsibility of the architect?
The symposium will tackle the significance and function of beauty today. Delegates will debate with architects, developers, community activists and politicians, informed by brand new research. High profile contributors will bring their varied perspectives to bear on the future of beauty, and the implications of beauty in society.