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Art Nouveau

Spotlight: Eliel Saarinen

08:00 - 20 August, 2017
Spotlight: Eliel Saarinen, Helsinki Central Railway Station. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Helsinki_Railway_Station_20050604.jpg'>Wikimedia user Revontuli</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
Helsinki Central Railway Station. Image © Wikimedia user Revontuli licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Though some may now know him only as the father of Eero SaarinenEliel Saarinen (August 20, 1873 – July 1, 1950) was an accomplished and style-defining architect in his own right. His pioneering form of stripped down, vernacular Art Nouveau coincided with stirring Finnish nationalism and a corresponding appetite for a romantic national style and consciousness; his Helsinki Central Station became part of the Finnish identity along with Finnish language theaters and literature. Later moving to America, his city planning and Art Deco designs resonated through western cities in the first half of the 20th century.

Detail from Helsinki Central Station. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/dalbera/2771369126/'>Flickr user dalbera</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> The unbuilt plan for the Tribune Tower. Image via Wikimedia (public domain) Finnish Pavillion at the 1900 World's Fair. Image via Wikimedia (public domain) National Museum of Finland. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Helsinki_Kansallismuseo_2006.jpg'>Wikimedia user Alessio Damato</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> +10

AD Classics: Paris Métro Entrance / Hector Guimard

04:00 - 10 August, 2017
A typical station entrance in the Paris Métro. ImageVia <a href=“https://pixabay.com/”>Pixabay</a> licensed under <a href=“https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en“>CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)</a>
A typical station entrance in the Paris Métro. ImageVia Pixabay licensed under CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)

Scattered throughout the streets of Paris, the elegant Art Nouveau entrances to the Métropolitain (Métro) subway system stand as a collective monument to the city’s Belle Époque of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. With their sinuous ironwork patterned after stylized plants, the Métro entrances now count among the most celebrated architectural emblems of the city; however, due to the city’s wariness in the face of industrialization and architect Hector Guimard’s decision to utilize a then-novel architectural aesthetic, it would take decades before the entrances would earn the illustrious reputation that they now enjoy.

During the first construction phases, tracks were dug just below street level. Via <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_Metro_construction_03300288-3.jpg”>National Library of France</a> licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of National Library of France Replica Métro Station entrance in Chicago, USA © <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2012-07-21_7000x4912_chicago_art_nouveau_metra.jpg”>Wikimedia Commons user J. Crocker</a> (2012) licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of J. Crocker Place du Bastille (Carte postale ancienne éditée par les Magasins Réunis). © <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magasins_R%C3%A9unis_171_-_PARIS_-_Station_du_M%C3%A9tropolitain_-_Place_de_la_Bastille.JPG”>Claude_Villetaneuse</a> (1908) licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of Claude Villetaneuse Place du Bastille (Carte postale ancienne éditée par les Magasins Réunis). © <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magasins_R%C3%A9unis_171_-_PARIS_-_Station_du_M%C3%A9tropolitain_-_Place_de_la_Bastille.JPG”>Claude_Villetaneuse</a> (1908) licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of Claude Villetaneuse +10

AD Classics: Hôtel van Eetvelde / Victor Horta

04:00 - 1 February, 2017
AD Classics: Hôtel van Eetvelde / Victor Horta, Courtesy of Wikimedia user Zinneke (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)
Courtesy of Wikimedia user Zinneke (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

To the contemporary observer, the flowing lines and naturalistic ornamentation of Art Nouveau do not appear particularly radical. To some, Art Nouveau may even seem to be the dying gasp of 19th Century Classicism just before the unmistakably modern Art Deco and International Styles supplanted it as the design modes of choice. The Hôtel van Eetvelde, designed in 1897 by Victor Horta—the architect considered to be the father of Art Nouveau—suggests a different story. With its innovative spatial strategy and expressive use of new industrial materials, the Hôtel van Eetvelde is a testament to the novelty of the “New Art.”

Courtesy of Wikimedia user Zinneke (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0) Courtesy of Flickr user T P (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Courtesy of Wikimedia user Koenvde (Public Domain) This street front comprises typical Brusselian townhouses: narrow, multilevel, and highly individualistic in their ornamentation. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user Steve Cadman (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0) +6

The Long(ish) Read: "Ornament and Crime" by Adolf Loos

04:00 - 2 November, 2016
The Long(ish) Read: "Ornament and Crime" by Adolf Loos, Villa Müller (1930), Czech Republic / Adolf Loos
Villa Müller (1930), Czech Republic / Adolf Loos

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Long(ish) Read: an AD feature which presents texts written by notable essayists that resonate with contemporary architecture, interior architecture, urbanism or landscape design. Ornament and Crime began as a lecture delivered by Adolf Loos in 1910 in response to a time (the late 19th and early 20th Centuries) and a place (Vienna), in which Art Nouveau was the status quo.

Loos used the essay as a vehicle to explain his distain of "ornament" in favour of "smooth and previous surfaces," partly because the former, to him, caused objects and buildings to become unfashionable sooner, and therefore obsolete. This—the effort wasted in designing and creating superfluous ornament, that is—he saw as nothing short of a "crime." The ideas embodied in this essay were forerunners to the Modern movement, including practices that would eventually be at core of the Bauhaus in Weimar.

Gaudí’s Casa Vicens to Open as a Museum in 2016

12:00 - 7 September, 2015
Gaudí’s Casa Vicens to Open as a Museum in 2016, Casa Vicens. Image © Eric Huang [Flickr CC]
Casa Vicens. Image © Eric Huang [Flickr CC]

Designed by Antonio Gaudí in Barcelona when he was 30, and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005, Casa Vicens will be converted into a museum and open its doors to the public during the second half of 2016. 

Built between 1883 and 1889, Casa Vicens was the first house designed by Gaudí. The building’s current owner, a subsidiary of the financial group Mora Banc Grup, is currently working on its restoration and the museum planning. “The mission of Casa Vicens as a house museum is to present the first Gaudí house, presenting it as an essential work to understand his unique architectural language and the development of Art Nouveau in Barcelona,” explained the executive manager of the project, Mercedes Mora, in a recent interview with Iconic Houses

Learn more after the break. 

Casa Vicens. Image © Michela Simoncini [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC] +5

Video: Reflections on the Diverse Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

16:00 - 7 June, 2015

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is considered to be one of the most influential artists and architects of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and earlier this year his work was displayed in an exhibition at the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), following a five-year research project by the University of Glasgow. Among the exhibition of over 60 original drawings, watercolors and perspectives spanning the entirety of his career, highlights included models of his unbuilt work and original designs for the Glasgow School of Art. Watch the short documentary above on the five-year research process by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), who funded the University of Glasgow's work.