Norman Foster said- “Architecture is an expression of values- the way we build is a reflection of the way we live.”

The term “architectural expression” is broad and includes both the close education of the human ego with the materials and mode of construction, which contribute to aesthetic sensation and the outward manifestation of the inner purpose of a building or a group of buildings, i.e., an expression and indication of the total building programme. Thus, architectural achievement becomes a hallmark of society’s pattern, signifying both material and spiritual resources as well as economic and technological constraints.

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The Expressions in Architecture_©IIAD

In architecture, the expression refers to a clear and sincere portrayal of a person’s individuality or character (architect). The expression is frequently associated with the Expressionism architectural movement, whose main motivation and goal are to present and communicate what has been “seen” or experienced in the mind, heart, and soul, that is, to express subjective emotions without making reference to conventional and “objective” values, judgments, or truths.

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The Expression and Expressivity_©MasterUmetnosti

The fact that the idea of expression is utilised differently in many domains of science and art presents the primary challenge in the critical investigation of theoretical interpretations of the concept in architecture. The following interpretations of the idea of expressiveness are frequently found:

  • A process or manner of putting words to an idea.
  • Displaying sentiments, emotions, etc.
  • Expressing feelings through music, visuals, etc.
  • Displaying emotion or mood through facial expression.
  • A communication’s word choice, phrase structure, grammar, tone, etc.
  • A particular phrase frequently used to convey something, etc.

Architecture as an expression of culture 

All architectural structures, from homes to libraries, are created and crafted to convey a person’s emotions and sentiments as well as to elicit a particular response in people who enter the building. Although there are many facets of architecture that may be investigated, I think the area that needs the most focus and consideration is the individual decisions that architects make when creating a building since it exhibits the greatest self-expression. Every concept’s definition of beauty is arbitrary; one person may find a structure to be beautiful, while another completely disagrees. For this reason, architects’ work is a prime example of self-expression since it allows them to communicate to others what they see as creativity and beauty.

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The interpretation of historical expression- Badami cave temple_©Indusscrolls

When one thinks of “culture,” one often includes daily customs like rituals, clothes, language, and cuisine. Despite being an essential component of culture, architecture is rarely considered to be a part of it; some may even argue that it is an expression of culture, which is true. When it comes to religious structures, we do comprehend the relationship between the two quite well. Examples are the Sanctorum of a temple, the minaret of a mosque, the spire of a church, the dome of a Gurdwara, and the masjid’s minaret. In as much as architecture draws from culture, so does culture draw from architecture.

Architecture as an expression of emotions

The emotional architecture includes the user’s body and intellect and is a wonderful exercise in poetic imagination. A constructed form may be experienced through listening to its distinctive conversations as well as its spaces, form, and surfaces. A space enters the user as the user enters the space.

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The interpretation of emotional expression_©Archdaily

Users of a location might have a variety of experiences there. Generally speaking, we consider architectural design to be a constructed shape or a real object. yet fail to see how design affects feelings in people. With current technology, it is possible to employ virtual reality tools to simulate a user’s actions, behavioural patterns, and emotional responses to a specific spatial location. This produces future, integrative design solutions for the built environment that are quite promising.

Three layers of connection between a design and its user are covered by Don Norman in his book “emotional design”:

  • Visceral – The experience of falling in love with someone at first sight when they amaze the user with their beauty, intelligence, and sentiments. Persuasiveness and design appeal are important factors. This first design idea might draw inspiration from things like metaphor, juxtaposition, or even fresh forms of beauty.
  • Behavioural: The user is persuaded of the usefulness, purpose, and values after utilising.
  • Reflective: When a design gives the user a meaning that affects their experience.

When a person perceives space as an extension of themselves, they have a connection to their memories and sense of belonging.

Visual expressions in Architecture

Human intellect can be divided into eight separate categories, claims Howard Gardner. One of them is spatial intelligence, which is the capacity to conceive about and build three-dimensional spaces in the mind. This skill is advantageous to many professions, including architecture. In this article, we will examine how visual representation in architecture has changed through time, from showcasing the most brilliant ideas to portraying the most fantastical visions.

The ultimate purpose of visual expressions is to make a concept visible and accessible to others. Throughout the ages, architects have created a wide range of methods and methods of their own to demonstrate their ideas. Today, computers and virtual reality are used to do tasks that were formerly completed with ink and paper.

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Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center_©MADArchitects

A short while later, one of the best practitioners of architectural visualisation, the German architect Helmut Jacoby, produced exact renderings of both interior and exterior spaces utilising a variety of methods and equipment, such as rapidographs and airbrushes. Some of his images were so similar to computer graphics that they may have been computer generated. Architectural rendering has changed both in terms of method and concept with the quick changes in trends and technology. 

An illustration for expressions in architecture_©TishkBarzanji

A category of fine art referred to as the “high arts” is architecture. For a very long time, these great arts have been recognised as the highest form of artistic expression. The architectural expression is the design of a structure or the decision of its form, and it covers all of the characteristics of a building, such as its size, shape, materials, texture, colour, decoration, etc. Being an art, it gives us a means of expressing our creativity and enables society to perceive, develop, and form their surroundings and living spaces in a distinctive way. Being a science, architecture also addresses our practical demands by giving us livable space and a comfortable atmosphere.


  • (2015) (Last edited on 4 october 2020) [Online]

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  • (2020) The Evolution of Visual Representation in Architecture (and How It Will Continue to Change)  [Online]

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Ayushi Samarth is a freshly graduate architect. Reading, understanding and writing upon the analysis made have always been the keen interests of Ayushi. She has always been curious in understanding the impact of social issues on architecture and design. Dealing with the theory of user and context interaction with architecture and narrating the story of architecture always has her attention.

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