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A critical review of ornament in contemporary architectural theory and practice [ITU J Faculty Arch]
ITU J Faculty Arch. 2016; 13(1): 157-169 | DOI: 10.5505/itujfa.2016.73745  

A critical review of ornament in contemporary architectural theory and practice

Deniz Balık, Açalya Allmer
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir, Turkey

For over a century, the controversial issue of ornament has oscillated between the two extreme conditions of being condemned and praised. Although current architecture receives ornament enthusiastically due to its design potentials, it still remains as a problematic and critical topic, as it maintains its blurry and slippery character. The aim of this study is to construct the theoretical framework of ornament in the twenty-first century architectural domain. The paper intends to investigate the reemergence of this-yet-ambiguous issue to evaluate its new aspects, and redefine its limits in contemporary architectural theory and practice. Being much more than an intricate architectural element, an in-depth study of ornament overlaps its reemergence with social, cultural, and economical status quo. Through the examination of specific contemporary case studies, this study makes a layered reading of architectural ornament as an instrument of image-driven contemporary culture within spectacle-laden public sphere. In contemporary architecture, the digital, structural, sensual, representational, and symbolic facets stratify ornament metaphorically and literally, making it an intense medium of impression and expression. Ornamental buildings emerge as embodiments of consumption, exhibition, and public attention, by contributing to image-making, commercial success, and marketing strategy, in addition to the performance of ornament as a challenging designerly instrument.

Keywords: Ornament, Contemporary Architecture, Façade, Image, Representation


Deniz Balık, Açalya Allmer. A critical review of ornament in contemporary architectural theory and practice. ITU J Faculty Arch. 2016; 13(1): 157-169

Corresponding Author: Deniz Balık, Türkiye


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