Louis Isadore Kahn (1901-1974) was one of the great masters of twentieth century architecture. His work was based on the principles of modern architecture abstraction while he resorted to classical monumentality, patent in many of his projects. Kahn was also considered the architect of light.
After emigrating to the United States at four years old, Kahn was admitted in 1920 at the School of Fine Arts in Pennsylvania. In 1924 he qualified as an architect. After several collaborations and traveling in Europe, he founded his own design studio in Philadelphia.
Kahn's work is characterized by abstraction of architecture, simplicity and greatness of forms and a special care to daylight. His projects are defined by polygons and polyhedra that are sorted to produce a monumental and elegant architecture. Geometry is his guideline to project. The order is also very important in the work of Kahn, because it explicitly determines the arrangement of geometry.
However, the most important element in Kahn's architecture is light, as it defines the volumes and spaces. For Kahn, light is a design element that gives life to architecture projects. In today's notebook, we will briefly present one of its most representative projects: The Kimbell Museum.
Louis I. Kahn in the Kimbell Museum.
The Kimbell Museum was a project built in 1972, in Forth Worth, Texas, being commissioned by Kay Kimbell, to host his art collection.
The museum is based on an orthogonal arrangement of exhibition halls, covered by 16 concrete vaults cycloid.
Model of the project.
The main façade is defined by an open porch on the first two cycloid vaults, preceding the exhibition galleries.
Porch of the Kimbell Museum. Joe Mabel.
Each vault rests on four main pillars, so that the joint of the vault and the wall allows a slit through which daylight penetrates into the porch.
Joint of vault and wall, creating a slit. Xavier Jaurebiguerri
The vaults covering the exhibition galleries are very interesting. Kahn had a wide knowledge on the reflection of light, so he designed a skylight in the keystone of the cycloid, to allow daylight into the galleries would agree.
Original section of the project
However, direct sunlight should be avoided in the galleries, as the artwork can be damaged by radiation. Consequently, Kahn designed a reflector under the skylight of the keystone, so that the light is leading on the vault and the walls of the rooms. This is the result:
Kimbell Art Gallery
In short, this is one of the great works of contemporary architecture that combines geometry, space, order and light.