Architecture of Attraction

A myth, according to The Free Dictionary, ‘is a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs or ideals of society.’ Since the beginnings of times, stories are told, myths are created, and people were taught by the elders of the world’s great dangers and mysteries.

The tale of sirens, or mermaids, are really peculiar, and very interesting at the same time. It is known that Sirens are beautiful creatures, who lured sailors with their dazzling chants, and by the time the ship came next to the shore, it crashed on deadly rocks, leaving the mariners at the mercy of the astonishing beings. Their voices are sweet, and whilst singing a better life for the sailors, who are apart from home and longing for some love, the sires were capable of making up their minds and by that, condemning them to death. There are more than one legends regarding this rare beauties, and even some famous writers and artists commented upon their myth, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Homer.

In the Odyssey, the theme of temptation as a psychological peril is portrayed by the sirens who lure sailors to their deaths by seduction. They represent the ideal audience—they sing about the most glorious moment of your life, thus tempting you to stay the hero or warrior they are portraying you as. Your own weakness makes you vulnerable; your greatest weakness comes from inside you.

It is safe to say that sirens are a metaphor, widely related to many experiences in one’s life. Society has experienced temptation in various historical moments. Through choices driven by desire, fates were traced and lives were decided. Human beings are full of desire, and personal will can influent entire armies, setting the course of a nation.

Architecture itself can take the form of desire. It can be passion. It can attract, after all, beauty is attractive in any culture. In addition, is easy to realize the importance of architecture in the urban revitalization context. Therefore, an architectural element can break the momentum of stagnation of an entire region, poorly used as an urban space. This process is - in most cases - of great governmental interest, and offers benefits for all parties (population, government and developers). For this reason solely, should be encouraged. The proposal is rather simple: the insertion of an architectural element in an uninteresting area, previously degraded or forgotten by time, reigniting the flame of the past or even creating a whole new vibrant scenario.

It is true that the absence or inadequate urban planning has a number of negative consequences for the city. In this sense, the architects and planners have to be very attentive to their role in this context. The fact is that the approach that underlies the proposal demands a greater insight on the part of the community of designers, because it is not about an element isolated from others - or on a particular architectural building - but of a set of works that enhance the urban space corroborating each other in a harmony of shapes and styles. Another important factor is always taking into consideration the kind of architecture that is being build, because such carelessness may cause segregation, and this is definitely not what architects should seek while exercising urban planning. Welfare, allying functionality with beauty, a better use of space and a critical concern for the future and the environment: this is the new architecture, which differs us from being simply aesthetic designers.


Case Study – Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

According to this, a discussion about the importance of an architectural element in the city is due. A good example is Bilbao, a small Spanish town, which today is no more than 400 000 inhabitants. Coming from the medieval era and quite changed by industrialization, Bilbao has undergone a revitalization that focused priorities in tourism. For this, there was a plan, and together with the work of great architects, it was very successful. They invested in the transport system - subway project conducted by Foster + Partners - but mainly in the insertion of an architectural element, considered icon to worldwide recognition: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, by Frank Gehry.

Tourism in Bilbao increased considerably after the construction of the Guggenheim Museum, and the city became internationally recognized. Notice that an architectural element was crucial to the spread of tourism in the city, and considering the fact the museum’s collection is not permanent, as the other famous museums like the Louvre, it appears that most people who come - from the main Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, and from around the world - to visit Bilbao, are more likely there to see the Guggenheim itself.

Admittedly, such an impact was never anticipated when built, however in theory, any city could pass by the phenomenon of being globally recognized as Bilbao. It would take simply an effective, timely and visionary planning, and of course, elements that act as "anchors", i.e., as a catalyst for local development.