It’s where eastern and western wisdoms blend in harmony
Culture and traditions are what always influence the development and creation of architecture. The two components produce norms that standardize the perception of beauty.
The beauty is often differentiated from style when comparing the architectural works of eastern and western culture, such as Greek and Japanese style buildings, or those with Roman and Chinese styles.
Despite the differences, both cultures have given a significant contribution to the science and art of architecture, each in their own unique styles.
Neoclassic architecture, which is a reflection of the harmony of Greek and Roman artistic styles, combines both simplicity and grandeur to create magnificent structures that have greatly influenced the latter day of architecture in the West.
Meanwhile, the characteristics in architecture developed by the Chinese and the Japanese include strong cultural elements such as feng-shui and Taoism to organize building construction and space layout.
Indeed, both eastern and western cultures are juxtaposed with styles, yet they have some artistic similarities where the blend creates a harmony relevant to yesterday and today’s standards.
The history has recorded that the world has gone into two directions, and the history has also led to the emergence of West and East. This also includes the change in the realm of architecture, paving the way for the birth of “East meets West” architectural concept, in which the two worlds are blended into a unique style.The concept can be described as a fusion of modern architecture with stylish ethnic interior design, or the combination of traditional eastern architecture and modern interior design.
With globalization, many westerners have started looking to the eastern beauty. Water Stone at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is a good example.
There are also many modern buildings built and designed with neoclassic style, yet their space and interior design are infused with eastern elements.
Water Stone, commissioned in 1986, is a large indoor fountain designed by Japanese architect Isamu Noguchi. The fountain’s running water symbolizes ebb and flow of life in the traditions of Japanese Buddhists. Water Stone also extends the existence of the infinite Zen. Built in Japanese architecture design, Water Stone sits artistically surrounded modern architectural space, making this Noguchi’s masterpiece appear as the synthesis of East and West.
Nevertheless, the fusion of western and eastern architecture has been in place for hundreds of years.
Going to Macau, one will immediately notice upon arrival that this China’s special administrative region is the product of over four-century cultural exchange between the western world and Chinese civilization. Correspondingly, the architectural heritage of European style blends with that of Chinese culture.
Some of the buildings in Macau that have hybrid “East meets West” architecture are Lou Kau Mansion and Casa Garden.
Lou Kau Mansion is a two-storey Cantonese style courtyard house built in 1889. The mansion characterizes the typical Chinese residential house, but its interior designs are incorporated with western elements, such as neo-classical balustrades and perforated wooden ceilings.
Lou Kau Mansion is now one of the ‘must see’ tourist places and it is inscribed by UNESCO as one of the world heritage sites.
Casa Garden is the colonial villa used to be the headquarters of the British East India Company in the early 19the century. The villa is now used for the Oriental Foundation and exhibition gallery.
The boutique office building of Sampoerna Strategic Square displays glass dome and beautiful English garden. Entering the building, one will be taken into the timeless elegance of neoclassic era that is adorned with the presence of two statues of Chinese guardian lions, also known as ‘Foo Dogs’, at the main gate. ‘Foo Dogs’ are the symbol of guardians mythically said to have powerful protection from evil spirit and negative elements.
Other eastern elements in the building are Balinese statues at the Terrace (behind the Atrium), Moroccan lamps and Indonesian farmer statue (patung pak tani) by fountain in the lobby.
Walking inside the building, visitors can feel the touch of Greco-Roman forms, taking them to the golden era of the ancient Europe. But what makes Sampoerna Strategic Square different is the presence of aquarium with Arowana fish inside. According to feng shui, fish represents good fortune, wealth and prosperity.
No less important is the presence of tropical trees like frangipani in the splendor of this neoclassic style building, which truly makes the harmony of the best of both worlds.
Text: The Writerpreneur. Published in SSS Newsletter, Sept-Nov 2011.