Étienne-Louis Boullée was a visionary French neoclassical architect, born in 1728,Paris whose work also influenced importantly future contemporary architects. Originally he was a painter but with the influence of his father being an architect he changed his path to architecture but still used his painting skills on his many of drawings.Boullée learned classical French architecture in the 17th and the 18th from Jacques-François Blondel, Germain Boffrand and Jean-Laurent Le Geay.
By the knowledge he gained from the tutors and his interest in antiquity he practiced his knowledge to neoclassicism. Boullée’s work was mostly identified by the elimination of all unnecessary ornamentation, enlarging geometric forms to an enormous scale and duplicating components like columns.He inspired by the history to the monuments forms of cultures of the ancient Greek. During Boullee’s time Paris was the cultural center of the world. He was mostly persuasive during his lifetime in academics at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and the Académie Royale d’Architecture. Boulle?e dedicated most of his time in the 1780s to teaching and to the theory of architecture. In his professional life he worked as a theorist and a professor, who also taught other important architects as Jean Chalgrin, Alexandre Brongniart, and Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand. Essai sur l’art (“Essay on the Art of Architecture”) Boullée’s book of architecture which argues for an emotionally devoted neoclassicism was published in 1953.
Instead of writing he composed pictorial studies of architectural monuments, structures so enormous in scale that sometimes even the imagination fails to fabricate. Few of Boulle?e’s desings been built in his time, he mostly enjoyed people with his theories and his drawings. Boullée’s magnificent designs has made him characterized as a megalomaniac and a visionary.
His focus on balancing opposite design elements and the use of light and shadow was ingenious which inspires a lot of architects to this day. One of Boullée’s characteristic approach to architecture was his considerable use of symbolism. For instance he symbolized that the society was supported by law on his Palais Municipal by resting it on four pedestal like guardhouses. Boullée actually got forgotten for a period of time and rediscovered in the twentieth century again, but was still inspiring architects today like Aldo Rossi. Boulle?e has spended his entire life in Paris, his start as a painter before settling as architectural theoirst assisted his projects a lot. Boulle?e’s architecture has often shown as visionary and revolutionary for his time.
The transition to neoclassical architecture does generally dated to the 1750s. It first became significant in England and France, with the born of interest for archeology, where Sir William Hamilton’s excavation at Pompeii and other sites also have a big influence on. French architecture students who studied in Rome generated the movement in France.Middle of the eighteenth century, antiquity has became as a part of the architecture as never before. Europe-wide movement described neoclassicism as examination of the very original bases of architecture form and meaning, not anything like renewal.Most of the Boullée’s projects were designed when he was teaching in the Academy, which was a period of time when monarchy was defining its own part as a reformer but they forced itself to find an appropriate form even for fully unprecedented programmes such as museums and public libraries.Boullée’s most famous and known design is the cenotaph for Newton.
Boullée’s style can particularly depicted in his proposal for the Newton cenotaph, which was dedicated to the scientist Isaac Newton. The sphere, which is 150 meters high represents the universe, inserted in a circular bottom covered with cypress trees. The design was never get the built, but it’s intensity on the psychological perspective and effectiveness of the architecture on the observer, foreseen the twentieth century theories of architecture.Boullée encouraged that the natural law of architecture should had priority over antique precedent. Boullée’s library had a lot of texts of science as architectural sources, including including works by Copernicus, Bacon, Buffon and Newton.
He was not eager to limit his terminology to spheres, cubes, and pyramids which gave him an idea for his ‘theory of volumes’.In his imaginary projects he wanted to determine the properties of volumes and their analogy with the human being.The first time when a public building was proposed without consulting the classical language of architecture was the Newton cenotaph.Boullée made the defended the idea of creating architecture expressive of its determination, which became an important point in Beaux-Arts architectural studies in the later nineteenth century. Boullée was also inspired by the contemporary passion for antiquity, notably for Egyptian monuments, which was famous in Europe at that time. The architect abstracted the geometric forms by ancient designs of architecture into a new approach of monumental building which includes the calm, ideal beauty of classical architecture with major expressive power. Boullée examined features of geometric forms and its outcome on the senses, symbolic character on the cube, pyramid, cylinder and sphere on his well known essay La Théorie des corps.
Boullée used a lot of aspects of light and shadow to bring geometric forms to life. The architect also made his designs more mysterious by burying part of a structure. Boullée’s later work is his abstraction of the geometric forms, implied by ancient projects into a new approach of monumental building which carries the ideal beauty of the classical architecture with a thoughtful power to it. On La Théorie des corps, which is one of his famous essays, Boullée explored the features of geometric forms and their effect on senses as an ideal form.In the context of the Academie, Manfredo Tafuri has discussed that Boullée’s designs for the Essai didn’t state as ‘unrealizable dreams’ it was more of an exercise of an ‘experimental model of architectural creation’.
Based upon projects characterized by the Academie, it can be defined first as exercises in principles of architectural composition and classicist design. Boullée proved that the architecture could be also used for to form values rather than just evoke emotions, such as respect for the moral value of art in the museum.