I was excited today to see a quote by Gilbert Chesterton, which reads as follows: "All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks." It's an interesting way to think about it, and naturally, given that architecture was the second word, immediately piqued my interested. At first thought, I began to think of the renderings that are done with night views for review boards. Personally, I don't think they're always the most effective...
However, I think that Chesterton's statement has some validity. At night, the edges become blurry, and the mystic sense of the work begins to take over. You can't really tell where things begin and end, and if the lights are on inside you get this haunting glow that emanates from it. Night completely changes things -- while it may glimmer and glitter in the morning sun, the night only provides a shadowy cloak to all that is bright.
But the question here is, is architecture really a nocturnal art? I don't think so. In some ways, perhaps we are so consumed with the daily agenda of our lives that we ignore architecture during the day, and yet it comes to life for us at night, because the focus has changed and the number of distractors is severely lessened. For some pieces, it is this act of the night that truly brings it to life. The best example of this, I think, is in the city -- how the world turns completely upside down. And while the streets still appear to carry the rays of daylight, the view from a high-rise apartment seem to go from penetrating daylight to a glowing night life.
I've always dreamt of seeing this from my floor-to-ceiling apartment windows. For me, this is when the city comes alive. But, I'd also have to practically be a millionaire to afford such a place. And thus, I simply continue to dream, and indulging in the photographs provided, allowing me to vicariously place myself in the eyes of others.
So is architecture truly a nocturnal art? I don't think it's a simple yes or no, but rather that architecture thrives in its own way during all times of the way. While the sun reflects into your eyes at night, so does the moon and the lake play on the façades by night. Architecture, in my mind never sleeps. It is always changing, always affecting the scenery and the people around it; it is always something completely special and unique.