The spatial organisation of a structured environment is frequently argued in works on architecture to be a significant reflection of social and cultural values and traditions. As a result, various cultures express themselves through various spatial models. It is also widely accepted that cultural information, along with information about the physical environment, affects the layout of cities as a whole and specific building design or groups of buildings. Because it evolves following the requirements of the sociocultural structure and technological advancements of the era it belongs to, architecture carries the quality of being a culture-maker, an indicator of the civilisation it represents. Additionally, it tries to capture the culture of a specific period through spatial arrangements made with materials and technological innovations from that period. 

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Vatican City- An example of Cultural heritage_©

The history of a community, its distinctive characteristics, the results of various social processes, and the theory of a person or/and a community are just a few basic concepts that can explain culture. The definition of architecture which can answer today’s perception and condition can be roughly like this: “The ability to form space designs such as to support and keep the activities that interest that community also emotionally within the bounds of the real needs and possibilities of a specific society” (Özer, 2009). 

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St. Basil Cathedral_©Anton Zelenov

Culture-A Marker For A Civilization | Building Design

Perhaps most obviously, architecture is the area of culture that civilization first impacted. From a different angle, architecture is one of the fundamental human endeavours that can create the culture and serve as a marker for the civilisation it is designed to represent. The culture of any nation has an impact on its civilization. For instance, a place that frequently experiences volcanic eruptions is unlikely to contribute to progress owing to its geological makeup significantly. In the end, culture and technology impact how people live. As a result, the houses emerge from the people’s way of life or culture in each given place and time through their architecture. 

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Restored Sumerian ziggurat in the ancient city of Ur_©

Even the physical structures, like a neighbourhood of houses or the design of a whole town, reflect the culture. This will become evident while looking at houses built in the style of mohallas or streets in typical Indian villages as well as when looking at the emergence of multi-storey buildings in the urban collection today. The culture includes many ideas, values, practices, knowledge, and morals that community members have absorbed over time. Examples of cultural expressions that may identify a culture include language, art, and architecture. 

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Bhunga Huts of Kutch_©

Cultural References In History

In some cities, the architectural design reflects the local culture. For instance, the Egyptian pyramids offer insight into the historical past of that country. The environment and culture of ancient Egypt led to the enormous pyramids. In contrast, the architecture of the buildings in other locations affects and influences the local culture. Mecca was a desert until the Mosque Al-Ka’aba, the most important Muslim shrine and landmark, was constructed. Architecture has been accurately described as the display and expression of civilisation. After all, architecture and culture may be intricately entwined. The holy and monumental structures, built so that people may continually appreciate their architecture, are one of India’s architectural gems. The splendour of the Taj Mahal, the Khajuraho Temple, the Ajanta Ellora Temples, and the Madurai Temple are excellent examples of this. 

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Taj Mahal-An architectural marvel_©

Many instances of architecture and design that significantly reflect culture may be found. That culture dated back to the Egyptian civilisation and was predicated on the idea that there is life after death. These structures, like the enormous pyramids and funeral temples, illustrate how this concept was mirrored in their architectural layout. The highest expression of polytheistic cultural belief may be seen in Rome’s Pantheon. Another result of their practice of gathering was the Greek concept of the Agora, which is nothing more than an assembly place. Bernard Tschumi famously stated, “Architecture becomes a framework for fabricated events.” The manner of life of a group of people is referred to as their culture. In a sense, culture and architecture are two sides of the same coin. Architecture adjusts and merges with the levels of abstraction when there are substantial paradigm adjustments in how people live, never diverging from culture.

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Pyramids of Egypt_©

Role Of Technology | Building Design

Even within the same century, architecture can vary from one country to another, from one area to another, and from one city to another due to building process, transportation, and materials. Similar things can be said for architectural design, which has undergone numerous changes over time due to technological advancement, with technology acting as the final arbiter of aesthetics and semantics. Since many years ago, architects have produced environments in addition to actual locations like steel-frame homes that may depict a more comprehensive view of the interplay between architecture and culture.

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Centre Pompidou by Richard Rogers & Renzo Piano_©G. Meguerditchian

The greatest effect on culture has come from technology. It continuously controls and shapes culture, regardless of the context, the period, or, of course, the nature of the controlling states. The history of architecture and improvements in construction methods have both been influenced by the development of strong, resilient, lightweight, energy-efficient materials. Reassessing the cultural differences that exist across communities has a big impact on how architecture is viewed in the modern period. 

The Blue City Of Jodhpur

Even if an architect creates plans for residential steel buildings or storage buildings using design blueprints or other technologies, culture still has a big effect on how they are taken into account. When one looks at the cultural influences that have moulded spaces in India, one can observe that the popular cultural practices at the time have also significantly impacted residential areas and places of worship. 

The architecture of residences has been directly impacted by the cultural practices that were popular at the time, in addition to locations of ceremonial and religious importance like mosques and temples. One such example is Rajasthan‘s “blue city,” Jodhpur. The settlement expanded over around 500 years atop a hill next to the Mehrangarh fort. Brahmins were residents of the town who served the aristocracy and ritual workers. The key cultural principle that directed the development of this society was the idea of oneness. The dwellings are all joined by shared foundations and walls.

Blue city aerial view_©
Blue city aerial view_©

The overall appearance of the village of Brahmapuri is recognisable and constant. The buildings are close to one another, have similar architectural decorations, and are of the same height. Even now, every element of their architecture and culture emphasises unity. But this notion hasn’t just appeared out of nowhere, as far as science is concerned. Geographically, the Brahmapuri region has a higher risk of earthquakes. It is, therefore, simpler to withstand tectonic shocks when a vast region of land has a strong base. Furthermore, the buildings’ close closeness reduces the urban heat island effect and creates comfortable temperatures outside because they mutually shade one another.

Dominant blue color_©
Dominant blue color_©

In addition to serving as an insect repellent, the settlement’s blue colour stands for a multitude of cultural and religious principles. Undoubtedly, all of this is the outcome of changing cultural standards throughout time, but its effects can be seen in the development of the area’s architecture. 

Ignorance towards culture

Architecture serves as a window to culture. However, culture now refers to a way of thinking and living with substance instead of a trendy veneer. Human civilisations have taken on various primitive forms since the beginning, developing into a pattern of communal behaviour and living i n small groupings. The cultural characteristics of the community are not given enough consideration during the design process in the vernacular community’s experience. Another reason is the succession of several societies that have had an impact. This challenge becomes considerably more difficult when you return to the urban environment in those locations. Fundamental design limitations and principles have been disregarded in favour of allowing individual visions to expand and the makeup of design institutions to become more flexible. A general lack of vernacular character in architectural exteriors and details alienates these communities and undermines their sense of community. This undoubtedly affects how effectively the design achieves its objectives of lowering social and psychological stress among residents and releasing their creative energy for constructive uses. There can be certain ways to build a strong culture with a remote team while working on the projects.

Lost culture of Mumbai_©Alfarnas Solkar
Lost culture of Mumbai_©Alfarnas Solkar

Modern building design and culture

Even now, culture is very significant. Even though westernisation has significantly impacted Indian architecture, designers who adopt and meld elements from both worlds continue to find inspiration in local culture. Regardless of time or location, culture always permeates all forms of design, including architecture. Adaptability is essential since we are becoming more aware of how different life and work may be in the future. Although it’s still a guessing game, architects are mindful of future flexibility. Today, a major design goal and difficulty is to anticipate change and to construct with enough flexibility to accommodate what hasn’t happened yet.

MVRDV’s Wego House_©Zhang Chao

Numerous eras have unique architectural styles. However, current trends focus more on finding a balance between beauty and service than adhering to a particular style. It concerns how a building responds to the needs of its residents.

Conclusion | Building Design

The idea of the “Window” in vernacular communities develops from a purely practical standpoint as a device for ventilation and lighting to a more comprehensive one that connects the inside and the outside. An arrangement of events that makes it possible to record them for uses like monitoring and observation. This vision has been realised in various civilisations, such as the American “Bay Window” or the Islamic “Mashrabiya.”  Architect Alvar Aalto once said: The ultimate goal of the architect…is to create a paradise. Every house, every product of architecture… should be a fruit of our endeavour to build an earthly paradise for people. This is why culture is so central to the architectural process. People are at the centre.

Before it was so easy to travel between countries and cultural gaps in architecture started to diminish, nations worldwide had highly different architectural styles that expressed their cultures. When reviewing the conventional historical designs of a culture, it is difficult to confuse one building with another. Despite the uniformity of modern architecture, culture still has an impact on individuals all across the world. Modern buildings may take design influences from older ones, emphasise a unique aspect of the surrounding environment, or pay respect to specific cultural figures. Culture will continue to affect modern architecture in whatever way it manifests itself.


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Shivani Jadhav, a Mumbai-based architect, is attempting to explore architecture through words. She is passionate about discovering new perspectives on structures and bringing them to life through her writing. Her experiment focuses on the social, cultural, and philosophical aspects of architecture.