In order to answer the question ‘Is Architecture a need or a want?’, it is important to understand certain factors that have given rise to this question. In a few countries like India, architecture is viewed as a profession that is not given much importance. It is not seen as a high-paying job and most of the buildings are designed by civil engineers. Whereas, on the other side, there are countries that rely on architects to design and execute. So what is this necessity that is different in countries?
By definition, an architect is a professional who designs, plans, and helps in the construction process of a building. Architecture is incomplete without structural support. Architecture is a profession that caters to the needs of the people to socialize and interact. There are several other things that architecture can contribute to society and it is necessary to understand them to answer this question.
While studying architecture, we are often asked to have placemaking elements in the design. Architecture involves placemaking which is a process of creating a place with a function and social value to it. On a larger scale, placemaking becomes important in urban context and planning. Public places for socializing, interacting and relaxing are the need of the hour in a bustling work environment which gives rise to the need for an effective design like public parks, recreation centres, plazas, etc. These elements bring life to a neighbourhood where the centre of focus is shifted to the people.
Streets are the most commonly found organic placemaking design in India where people pause and carry out small activities. Small vendors, chat stalls, vegetable and fruit vendors are all lined up in an organized manner bringing people together and highlighting the culture of the place.
The old New York Central Railroad in Manhattan is redeveloped into a large elevated trail park called the High Line. The park is a linear walkway connecting Gansevoort Street and Javits Center. The design is an excellent example of placemaking, landscaping, and urban design. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf, the trailer park is 2.3km long. Repurposing the urban infrastructure is also done by architects with creative and interesting design ideas.
The pandemic has brought about several issues to society and one of the major issues is the way we see public infrastructure in cities and towns. A public space demands social interactions but there are several restrictions regarding social gathering spaces. So it is now time to design spaces that are socially engaging and inclusive but at the same time protocol for the pandemic, precautions are followed.
In an attempt to design hotels for a pandemic situation, Manser Architects based in the UK have come up with design solutions that can ensure social distancing and safe travel during the pandemic where they have given importance to theatrical circulation, elevation interactions, etc.
The other global issue that is addressed through architecture is environmental degradation. Sustainable architecture is a stream of architecture that focuses on making the building eco-friendly in terms of materials, energy consumption. The concepts like net-zero buildings and green architecture are developed by architects as strategies to give back to the environment.
Rajiv Gandhi Airport in Hyderabad is an example of sustainable architecture in India. Built in 2008, it has a capacity of 12 million passengers. It is one of the first airports to receive a LEED silver rating certificate.
A city is more than just cars, trains, and tall buildings. To function efficiently, a city must be planned and organized systematically to achieve maximum benefits. The provision of land use patterns and creating a public-oriented design for the city is important to understand the dynamics of urban planning. It is a long process that involves a lot of legal and political involvement and architects play a role in developing a functional urban plan. The infrastructure of a city directly impacts its people. The road network, land use, geographical conditions are studied and developed to contribute to the public benefit, economic conditions, and lifestyle of the people.
Chandigarh in India was planned by the French architect, Le Corbusier. Located at the foothills of Shivaliks, the city has a cool environment and spectacular views. It was an experimental project in post-colonial India. Sectors are created based on the human body concept where each part represents a sector. It also has political bodies arranged in a cluster and the road network follows a gridiron pattern.
Identity of a Place
Every country has buildings and places which are famous due to their historical background and political significance. It also has modern buildings famous for futuristic and innovative designs. The monuments and structures that are old and fragile are restored using architects. The renovation and refurbishment of historical buildings involve architects for the job. Conservation and restoration is also a field selected by architects. Modern buildings stand out from the rest due to their innovation in design and creativity. These buildings promote the tourism of a place and contribute to the nation’s pride. Architecture can also create an identity of a place. Iconic structures built are used as symbols to represent the country and become the recognizable element for the whole country.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai is one such example. It was built in 2009 by Ar. Adrian Smith and is the world’s tallest structure. It has become the face of Dubai and contributed its fair share in the tourism of the place. It has 163 floors and is about 830m tall. Tourists are allowed to go to the top where a viewing deck is placed showing the view of Dubai. Apart from Burj Khalifa Dubai has become famous for several other iconic buildings like Burj Al Arab, The Atlantis, etc., create the character of the city.
When it comes to a public project, the design becomes generic and inclusive but that’s not the case with private projects like homes and offices. An architect is hired to convert a house into a home. A client having several expectations and ideas for their dream home will be expecting a personalized place to live rather than just a sufficient dwelling unit. A personalized space, however, also requires time and effort to design. The same applies to an office or a start-up where the client’s inputs are the driving forces of the design. An architect caters to these needs and comes up with a successful design.
Biome Environmental Solutions is a Bangalore-based firm by AR. Chitra Vishwanathan specializes in residential projects. Residence for Charis in Bangalore is one such example where the house is built in a very climate-responsive way. The arched roofs, large courtyards are all a part of personalizing the space for the client.
Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, an architect also specializes in cutting down the economic budgets and providing for all social classes. Laurie Baker is known as the Gandhi of Architecture because of his unconditional work towards the low-cost construction techniques and principles he followed in his career. So now to answer the question, architecture is definitely a necessity, especially in the present context and time. It not only is used for aesthetics and beautification but also as a problem-solving tool on a larger scale.
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Author, I.E. (2019). Everything You Need to Know About Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. [online] Travel Blog | Travel Inspiration, Tips and News | Travel Diary. Available at: https://www.indianeagle.com/traveldiary/rajiv-gandhi-international-airport/ [Accessed 4 Sep. 2021].
Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Burj Khalifa. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa.