Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada) Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, Daniel Libeskind (architect) photo by Saku Takakusaki
When we consider the term ‘accent’ in its musical sense, it is normally read as a musical symbol indicating a particular kind of emphasis placed on a particular note. One of my earlier composition teachers also used the term ‘accent’ to indicate anything such as form, expression, harmony, rhythm, etc., that draws attention to itself and tends to act as a focal centre for the written context of the piece. Many works of architecture claiming this kind of attention are perhaps criticized too harshly for not appearing to express the traditional architectural qualities of venustas, firmitas or utilitas: beauty, strength (or durability) and usefulness. Vitruvius establishes these qualities in his work De architectura as being fundamental to the criteria of a successful work of architecture. I do not argue for or against the validity of creating ‘controversy’ in order to get attention for the object, I am more interested in how a building can be perceived as being successful whether or not it appears to conform to the Vitruvian criteria as expressed above.
Notre Dame du Haut (Ronchamp,France), by le Corbusier
Hundertwasser House (Vienna, Austria), by Friedensreich Hundertwasser
Guggenheim Modern Art Museum (Bilbao,Portugal), by Frank Gehry
Fallingwater (Pennsylvania, US) by Frank Lloyd Wright
Rosslyn Chapel, (Roslin, Scotland)
This is not an exhaustive list by any means…