Happened Today: Étienne-Louis Boullée anniversary of his deat

Étienne-Louis Boullée

Étienne-Louis Boullée (12 February 1728 – 4 February 1799) was a visionary French neoclassical architect, theorist and teacher, whose work greatly influenced contemporary architects. His work was characterised by the removal of all unnecessary ornamentation, inflating geometric forms to a huge scale and repeating elements such as columns in huge ranges.

In his important theoretical designs for public monuments, Boullée sought to inspire lofty sentiments in the viewer by architectural forms suggesting the sublimity, immensity, and awesomeness of the natural world, as well as the divine intelligence underlying its creation. At the same time, he was strongly influenced by the indiscriminate enthusiasm for antiquity, and especially Egyptian monuments, felt by his contemporaries.

The distinguishing aspect of Boullée’s mature work is his abstraction of the geometric forms suggested by ancient works into a new concept of monumental building that would possess the calm, ideal beauty of classical architecture while also having considerable expressive power. In his famous essay La Théorie des corps, Boullée investigated the properties of geometric forms and their effect on the senses, attributing “innate” symbolic qualities to the cube, pyramid, cylinder, and sphere, the last regarded as an ideal form.

In a series of projects for public monuments, culminating in the design (1784) for an immense sphere that would serve as a cenotaph honouring the British physicist Isaac Newton, Boullée gave imaginary form to his theories. To bring geometric forms to life, Boullée depended on striking and original effects of light and shadow. He also emphasized the potential for mystery in building, often burying part of a structure.” Source by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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