How do you know if something is beautiful? Maybe a better question is WHEN, do you know something is beautiful. I find that beauty strikes us. It fills us with wonder and awe and often stops us in our tracks as we seek to ponder and grasp its complexity. This happens to people on mountain walks, with sunsets, and sometimes with architecture and a beautiful space.
The New Urban architectural movement demonstrates a unique talent for capturing beauty in architecture. My recent “Grand Tour” (see earlier post) to Alys Beach confirmed this conviction. Alys Beach lies on the gulf coast of Florida near Panama City Beach and is 1 of 3 distinct New Urban communities that include Rosemary Beach and Seaside. Each is a wonderful example of a creative and unique expression of beauty.
Many times during our stay I found myself struck by the harmony of the architecture. I remember openly thinking, “why is this so tranquil and beautiful here?” Even my teenage children seem to innately understand the design ideals?” I believe the secret is found in 2 ideas; order and sense.
Order: When God created the heavens and the earth he established order out of chaos. When we encounter order, we naturally feel at ease and at rest. I suspect the idea of rest or peace is most profound in a place of order and harmony. At Alys Beach, the organization of the homes, the sculpted courtyards, even the placement of trees that clearly define the parking lots are ordered. Order, like the absolute of a math equation, provides peace and security. It is a firm foundation where we can rest.
Sense: By sense I mean it “makes sense”. Architecture makes more sense when there is a driving philosophy that unifies the design inside and out. A cohesive design allows us to understand what a building or home is saying. We might say, the design is clearly communicated. At Alys Beach the architecture is inspired by the traditional architecture of Bermuda. The white stucco walls and sharp architectural details unify the community but are also great spring boards for creativity and inventiveness. This balance between a unifying theme that is not monotonous but instead allows creativity is key.
The pictures that follow are just a glimpse of the charm and joy we found at Alys Beach. Hopefully, it will encourage you to go visit these communities. When you go, park the car, get on a bike and wander through these communities and I believe you too, will be struck by beauty.