WIT Press

Poetic Water Images In Architecture


Free (open access)








1,715 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


U. Kirschner


This essay identifies and examines uses of water imagery in architecture worldwide and through centuries. Architects have introduced imagery in their architectural design since antiquity. This analysis illuminates how the intensive interaction with nature, in this case with water, corresponds to an ever lasting spirit. As Thales of Milet declared: \“Water is the source of all things” [1]. This element plays a unique role in the interaction of natural forces. During the Renaissance and particularly during the Baroque age resistance to social alienation was expressed in an abundance of ornamentation; the water foliage and wave formations on the colonnaded capital are analogous to the multitude of water images at times used extensively in lyricism. The water with its varying states of aggregation and mobility inspired many architects to spectacular designs. Keywords: design method, analogies in architecture, nature and architecture. 1 Introduction In all cultures, rituals and symbolism are influenced by the evidence and unlimited abundance of the \“element” water. \“Water escapes the earth’s surface in the form of a spring, moves forward as a river, stands still as a lake and rests in eternal calmness, yet everlasting movement in the form of the ocean. It transforms itself to ice or to steam, it ascends through evaporation while it descends as rain, snow or hail ... it hovers as a cloud ... it is colourless, yet can take on all colours ... it is formless, yet can adapt to any given form; it is soft, yet stronger than stone. It creates contours in the form of valleys, coastlines and grottos” [2]. In mythology and legends, the oceans and rivers are inhabited by gods and goddesses, spring and water nymphs, sirens and mermaids. The water source, the spring, symbolizes the tears, blood and milk of Mother Earth. In the


design method, analogies in architecture, nature and architecture.