Architecture has been defined as several things by several people, both by the insider who is well acquainted with the profession and the outsider, who is an observer or critic of architecture. The most acceptable definition of architecture was that which was given by a Roman architect, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (c.90-20 B.C.E.), in his collection “De Architectura,” otherwise known as the Ten Books of Architecture. He spoke of “commodity, firmness, and delight,” which, in modern terms, could be further simplified to mean “function, structure, and aesthetics.” The scope of this article will however treat architecture as a concept which encompasses the process and product of designing habitable and aesthetically-pleasing buildings.
In extreme detail, Architecture has proven to be a field that cuts across many things. It affects the concept of time, space and various fields of human existence such as psychology, mathematics, economics, geography e.t.c. Architecture encapsulates the stories of the past for posterity to read. It can also be likened to an ongoing writing project that encrypts events and lifestyles.
What this implies is that Architecture conserves the history and culture of the people who build and inhabit these architectural structures. It is a way for people to pour out their experiences to the world. All these things cumulate to influence what future generations will express as their own built world.
In this article, the broad scope of Architecture and how it cuts across time boundaries will be examined. Also, the reasons why it is important to note the changes that happen over time in the architecture of a people and how it affects human beings will be discussed.
The Motive or Driving Force Behind Architecture
The major questions we must tackle are: “Why is Architecture of such importance to human beings?” and “Why exactly does man build?” In the early days, man lived in trees and caves, making only slight adjustments to turn these natural habitats into more comfortable spaces to live in. These needs and desires adjusted gradually to become more complex as man’s intelligence advanced and were transmitted to influence how buildings were designed.
Shelter and Protection
Men of the early days were nomadic beings. That is, they moved from place to place in search of food. They didn’t have a permanent abode.
As they travelled, it became clear that different areas have different climatic, vegetative and terrain conditions. To cope with the harsh climatic elements, they had to build pseudo-structures that could keep out the harsh weather conditions and offer protection from wild animals. Most times, the buildings were portable. This in the sense that their building frame could be easily dismantled, borne on the journey and reinstalled at the next stop.
Structures were also created to provide a place of worship to gods or phenomena that men couldn’t understand fully such as eclipses, stars, mountains e.t.c.
Most buildings with a lot of grandeur and magnificent facades were dedicated to religious worship. For example, notable architecture such as the Ziggurat of Mesopotamia, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Temple of Solomon, the Parthenon e.t.c. were all made in recognition of the spiritual yearning of man.
Aesthetics and Comfort
Today, even though we build to accommodate people, possessions and different levels of activities, there is this underlying desire to make a statement. Sometimes, buildings are so embellished as to give a catchy impression to the users and viewers. Beautiful facades and eye-catching designs are elements that make architecture what it is and not just ordinary buildings.
The design must be able to give a sense of physical and psychological comfort to the users of the building. It will be a waste of space and resources to have a building that has no soothing value to the body and soul. Architecture must be comfortable and visually pleasing to dwell in.
Sociocultural Heritage Preservation
Architecture has become a means of expressing the social and cultural beliefs of a group of people. This I why we see buildings that are made for community gatherings and social interactions.
As Norman Foster surmised, “Architecture is the truest expression of values; the way we build reflects how we live.”
The Futuristic Reasons Fueling the Architecture of Tomorrow
The architecture of the future will still bear most of the aforementioned reasons behind them. However, more solid backbones will certainly be incorporated as the driving force behind the structures that are made. This is because the location variables will be different from what it is now.
There will even be architectural design projects that will be initiated in regions that are beyond the norm. Things like Space Architecture, Subterranean Architecture, Underwater Architecture e.t.c.
Materials and Techniques
Over time, the construction materials employed in making architectural masterpieces varied based on location and the development level of that period. In the past, man used crude resources, especially that which was easily gotten in the immediate environment to build their homes. Natural materials like laterite, wood, shrubs, animal skin, stone, ice e.t.c. were used to make their structures.
The shortcomings, however, with these materials were that they were oftentimes not durable and the methods of assembly were neither economically or labour convenient nor lasting.
As man grew progressively intelligent and as he began to explore more of the natural environment he dwelt in, he was able to find more mineral resources that lay beneath the surface. In combining and refining these materials, man was able to come up with many other useful building materials with various properties that are applicable in different locations.
Also, the technological and computer advancements present today have made it easier to design stunning structures that were otherwise not feasible using crude methods.
The changing times have led to the evolution of Architecture through different eras. In each specific period, there was a predominant style of building. There have been several styles of expressing building design peculiar to geographic locations and time frames. Each one had its method of design that reflected the tastes and preferences of the people at that time. From Neolithic to Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Mesopotamian, Ancient Greek e.t.c., we see that man has always been very deliberate and meticulous about the places he inhabits and works in.
Present and Futuristic Architectural styles
Presently, there is a desire for innovative styles that solve major environmental problems and at the same time deal with issues of functionality and comfortability for the occupants of the building. Architecture is exploring daring styles such as Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Green Architecture, Blobitecture etc. This is made possible by the advent of such computer technology as CAD (Computer Aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modelling).
Even after a generation is long gone, there is an assurance that the timeline is preserved via architecture. Thus, architecture serves as a link between the past, present and future, wrapping up their entirety in the summation of the creativity in humans seeking to improve, design and create better buildings.
- Will Brewer. “Architecture: Past Present and Future” 2nd September, 2011. Prezi. https://prezi.com/p0isetwg1grr/architecture-past-present-and-the-future/
- Edward D. Levinson. Architecture: Past, present and future. Chapter one. Introduction to the history of Architecture: Why man builds. 2009. http://architectureppf.com/chapter_1/1a.aspx (Accessed 29/10/2022)
- Archisoup. The Definition and Meaning of Architecture. 2021. https://www.archisoup.com/definition-of-architecture. (Accessed 23/10/2022)