“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization.” Frank Lloyd Wright

The relationship between architecture and society is similar to that of the womb and the child. From the thatched huts that offered a temporary shelter; to the caves that brought protection; to the basic XXXXX that was the bedrock of civilization; to the large castles that symbolized an empire’s greed; to the monuments that as souvenirs of the Renaissance Art; to the high-rise skyscrapers that give us a mirage of technological and societal advancementarchitecture has served as a rich index to measure the evolution of mankind. In fact, every corner that architecture has turned forms the Chapter Title in the story that humans have been writing over the last 4000-5000 years.

To this day, architecture instils a sense of belonging and a representation of being (soul) to humans. Even, the bloodshed around ownership over religious constructions follows this philosophy to a carnal extent.

Discourse: Architecture, Architect, Aesthetics, and Action - Sheet1
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Replica of Nature and the Nature of Replica

“There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.” Antonio Gaudi

The counterparts for architecture could be for urbanism, psychology, sociology or any domain of human impacts. Architecture has always been an extension of the human thought process and a symbol of human belief structures. The construct of public spaces has served to this theory – the construction of places of worship with layered walls serving as echo chambers for those in hope and the construction of a prison serving as a reminder of restrictive jail sentences. In that sense, Architecture is a practice of empathy and tenacity – you listen to more than yourself and be involved more actively with nature.  

And constantly, our built environment impacts the way we live together and behave towards each other in social circumstances, like housing, work, social, health care and that built environment shapes and will be shaped by society and its organizations. In that sense, architecture forms both our ecosystem and the living occupant.

Discourse: Architecture, Architect, Aesthetics, and Action - Sheet2
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Sensuous vs Sensible

“The job of the architect today is to create beautiful buildings. That’s all.” Philip Johnson

Under the guise of rapid globalization and economic pursuit, the language of global architecture has been moving away from vernacular aesthetics. Architecture, today, seems to be fundamentally concerned with interests in what the architects or designer believes as opposed to the needs of the user of the structure. The problem is that ideologically flawless structures, as in modernism or humanism, feel agonizingly distant and disconnected. Whilst the visionary and his masterpiece can reflect high-tech intellectual attributes, it shall also concurrently disregard the lived human experience of the users.

The vision of cities epitomizing the hustle and bustle of civilization and industry are now replaced by wild imaginations of luxury. This applies to only a rare population and is understood even more rarely.

When the Solution Becomes the Problem

 “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

Architecture, once a tool to address human problems, is now guilty of adding to them. Complex beauty and aesthetical appeal have become self-serving testimonies for architects and designers. Thrusting these as enriching, uplifting, inclusive, dialectical, meaningful designs – does a disservice to the needs of the user and demerits his intellect. The discussion and deliberation over the same complex design in many angles and vantage points represent the thick disconnected mentalities of those in charge. Regardless, the human experience has to be the context, the content and the conclusion.  

Proposing affordability and delivering uninspired banal concrete blocks collapses repels the connection made with culture. Reification of our culture into the built environment, by conforming to the conventional realm with forms, proportion, material and palette; manifests the collective lack of impact. 

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A Take on What Could Be!

“By dint of building well, you get to be a good architect.” Aristotle

Architecture has always been able to ease the problems of the world. It would be a gross misstatement to say there is adequacy in the resolution of current design frailties and fulfilment of potential future needs.

The built environment will always accommodate what the world extends to it. Therefore, throwing the architectural lexicons like sustainability and others to merely appease the social/political narrative side-tracks the capabilities of an architect.

Architects and designers need to create the demands of everyday people more democratically and tell public stories in a more meaningful way to compensate. This is apparent amidst the chaos in the present-day world. Whether it is a war, recession, or now, a pandemic and everyone is forced to rethink everything. Architecture is not exempt from this process of re-examining and reinventing. The world requires a wider reflection and macro problem-solving abilities – Architects and designers have the tools and opportunities to reimagine our built and design to avert the catastrophe that is confronting us. 

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” Frank Gehry

Strongly believe most architects are also humanists, in some way or the other. Indeed, their architectural righteousness is a matter of debate but in times of social altruism and political apathy, we have an obligation to strive to be better thinkers in most realms and fundamentally reshape our culture and it sequentially reshapes the built environment.

Architecture through space, time and body has been a reflection or even physical manifestation of human experience and should continue to be so. Therefore, it is imperative to know how a person relates to the world, before designing the world for that person.

What is a building without people in it?

Author

Spoorthi Nagaraj is a freshly graduated architect who is intrigued about urban studies and sociology. She is an architect by the day and a writer by the night. Her passion towards equity, resilience and sustenance is what flows through the content she writes.

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