Instructors: Prof. Lars Spuybroek and Sabri Gokmen

During the twentieth century beauty became more and more suspect in the aesthetics of art and architecture. When we look carefully at the main aspects of that century’s aesthetics we encounter words like fracture, process, abstraction, deconstruction, fragment, purity, etc., words that are generally associated with the adverse of beauty, namely the sublime. Now, after those hundred years of minimalism, genocides and abstractions we have to find our way back to beauty.

Generally commentators advocating the return to beauty are on the “Prince-Charles team” of aesthetics (Scruton, Turner) – classicism, harmony, proportion – trying to repair things by going back to the Greeks as if nothing happened. This is NOT what we are going to do. We are going to study John Ruskin’s notion of Vital Beauty, a beauty of imperfection, fragility and variation. Vital beauty means it is a beauty of active parts, not of parts that are balanced and in rest, but participating, entangling and constructing, thereby making the onlooker a participant as well, in short, beauty by agency.

Since we are a digital studio we will go after beauty not through mere inspiration and subjectivity but via method and techniques. We will create eight teams that will each research one aspect of beauty: roughness, imperfection, opulence, grace, incandescence, veiling, fragility and smoothness, first by images, then by digital diagramming. Some of these aspects apply to massing, others to structure and again others to ornament, but we will always be trying to merge these three domains of architectural design. The diagrams will be reworked from flat matrices towards a set of three-dimensional patterns, each concentrating on their own aspects. After mid-term these aspects will be applied to a middle-sized block in a city of your own choice. Our goal is always consistency: diagrams do not generate a part of the architecture but inform all elements of design. The research starts as teamwork of two students, while the design will be done by individuals, starting after mid-term.


Yeun Kim | “Opulence: Packing Crowds” 

Seon Ji Yi| “Roughness: Mountain Ranges” 

Studio on Beauty

Vertical Studio (Grads + UGrads)


Fall 2011 + Spring 2012

Georgia Institute of Technology

Hannah Griggers | “Imperfection: Dry Stone Walls” 

Matthew Belt| “Opulence: Victorian Interiors”

Ralf Iberle | “Fragility: Train Tracks” 

Almir Divanovic | “Imperfection: Mud Cracking”

Hrach Burtoyan | “Imperfection: Mud Cracking”