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Conceptual architecture refers to the design, construction and function of a structure based on abstracted ideas or concepts. Unlike traditional architectural design, which seeks to fulfill a specific role, conceptual architecture attempts to present an idea to viewers both inside and outside the building created. The concept around which the building is designed can be anything from environmental efficiency to an aesthetic statement. Structures that are conceptual often have a unique appearance in contrast to the surrounding landscape.
Conceptual building design usually begins with a consultation involving a number of sources. The owner of the space, the community and even city planners might all provide input to the architect during the design phase. This collection of limitations and requests allows the architect to work within a framework. The architect draws up one or more conceptual designs and one is chosen for construction.
The exterior of the structure can be extremely unique, sometimes employing custom construction techniques to achieve the correct appearance. Some buildings can be made to appear to defy gravity or resemble smaller geometric shapes. The appearance is meant to express the concept that has been agreed upon. The outside of a building is sometimes of little concern and might be just a container or the result of the interior layout.
Conceptual architecture can be very concerned about the interior of the structure, as well. Some architects go to great lengths to track the movement of the sun through a space so they will know how a room will appear at any given point in the day. Concepts of open space and human psychology are frequently employed so rooms and areas convey a specific feeling to the viewer.
Through the use of art installations, land installations and other fixtures, entire spaces can be manipulated beyond their original boundaries. Interiors for these types of buildings often can share more in common with conceptual art than with interior design. Not all conceptual buildings necessarily have interiors that are as creative as their exteriors. The reverse also is true.
Functionality is not always a consideration with conceptual architecture. There are structures that are purely aesthetic, although they can be used for some functions. There are other buildings that are conceptual architecture within the infrastructure only, usually to promote new environmental technologies. Finally, there are many buildings in the world that are completely usable commercial spaces yet also express a wholly individual concept.