BUILD Blog


Architecture and Discipline

It happens quite often, we’re at a cocktail party, a gathering, someone asks us what we do, we say we’re architects… and the response usually applauds the creative process. “It must be nice to do something so creative for a living” or “you must be a very creative person” or “I always wanted to do something creative like architecture”. Which is great, we’re honored to be thought of as creative and enamored that people are paying attention to the architecture around them.

The irony, however, is that good architecture is less about creativity and more about discipline. Granted, schematic design requires a great amount of creativity and the design and construction process necessitates creative problem solving. But in our opinion it is discipline in architecture that generates masterful, functional, inspiring architecture. Knowing what not to do. Just because there is a good view doesn’t mean that you fill the room with windows everywhere.

It is this restraint in design that is so important to a finished work. The projects that exercise discipline seem to forego fashion and grasp at a clarity of form and a timeless architecture. Such work creates a set of guiding principles and maintains an architectural thesis just as adamantly as it keeps the heat in and the rain out.

In doing our research on this theme we became quickly disenchanted with gathering the usual suspects – Mies, Breuer, Corbu, Kahn, Ando, etc. All masters of this architectural obedience but most of you are already very familiar with their work. They are extremely well documented and your bookshelves are most likely lined with their monographs. So we thought it might be a better use of our caffeine fueled research, and more enjoyable for us, to cover some of the lesser known architects – also well versed in an architecture of discipline.

Casa Pellico in Puebla, Mexico by Gerardo Balcazar, 2003

[Photos from the book Arquine + RM, Arquitectura Mexicana 2001-2004]

H Loft in Manhattan by Kar-Hwa Ho, 2002


[Photos by Bjorg Photography from the book New York Minimalism by Aurora Cuito]

Innfeld House in Schwarzenberger, Austria by Dietrich + Untertrifaller Architekten, 1999

[Photos from the book Country Modern by Aurora Cuito]

Pawson Residence in London by John Pawson, 1999



[Photos by Christoph Kicherer from the book Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell]

Miramar House in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal by Eduardo Souto de Moura, 1991

[Photos by Luis Ferreira Alves from the book Ten Houses by Oscar Riera Ojeda]

Rosen House (Case Study House #11) in Los Angeles by Craig Ellwood, 1962

Kjaerholm near Copenhagen Denmark by Poul Kjaerholm, 1962


[Photos by Per Nagel & Vibe Udsen from the book Scandinavian Modern Houses by Faber & Udsen]

Gunnlogsson Residence in Oresund, Denmark by Halldor Gunnlogsson, 1958


[Photos by Nagel & Udsen from the book Scandinavian Modern Houses by Faber & Udsen]

Villa Bianca in Seveso, Italy by Giuseppe Terragni, 1937

Let us know who’s on your list of lesser known, well disciplined, residential architects…

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

“The irony, however, is that good architecture is less about creativity and more about discipline.” Many times a lot of architects do not even get to use their creativity to the fullest, this is when discipline remains and brings the best out of them .

Comment by Pune Builders

Good point Pune Builders. However when I look at the birdsnest in Beijing, I think it is all about creativity. Creativity in aesthetic, in plumbing, in structure engineer, in the process of construction, in logistics, etc.

Comment by Hu

Dear friends: Gerardo Balcazar (Casa Pellico) unfortunately died a couple of years ago…. the link that you have at this page is not Gerardo Balcazar web page, I hope you can fix this error because there is a lot of diference between both architects. Gerardo was a really great architect. Thank you very much.

Comment by Arturo Hernandez




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