“Architecture is not just a profession delivering a service. It is the way humanity touches base with itself. That is why and how it has persisted for thousands of years.”

-Ole Bouman

Several extremely profound ideas come to mind when one imagines our planet without architecture and the built environment or even considers the notion. The two components that made up the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of humans were necessity and security. They needed to protect their bodies from the elements, dangerous animals, and hostile humans. The species would not have understood the value of all the materials and resources nearby, such as stones, wood, leaves, thatch, water, etc. if the need for shelter had not arisen.

From Caves to Homes

Humans have evolved from being hairy, furry primates to having significantly less body fur. The bipedal ancestors required protection for their bodies from the sweltering heat of the day and the cold of the night while they lived in the woodlands. The development of clothing, fire, and cave dwellings caused the body hair to fall out, removing the extra layer of insulation and allowing the skin to cool through perspiration. If homo sapiens did not have the special capacity to overcome their difficulties with shelter, fire, and clothing, it would be exceedingly difficult and engrossing to imagine the evolution of the world, humanity, and human understanding.

The human skill set and their mastery over the natural resources available to them grew after the development of agriculture and human civilisations; they simply stopped living in caves and began focusing on the design of their homes. And in this manner did, the science of architecture development. 

Architecture without humans and vice versa - Sheet1
“The gate to a magical land”_©Yi-Hsien Lee

How Architecture Became a Necessity

Imagine turning a bustling city into a desolate area. There won’t be anywhere to relax after a long day of work, store books, shop, exercise, swim, attend church, or have fun. There is no room for spiritual qualities, social commitments, or psychological requirements. Cosmopolitanism would have no place in the world. This would lead to absolute turmoil and anarchy.

Imagine a world devoid of culture, ancestry, heights, passion, realism, identity, expression, awe, and faith. It would also be a world without the Divine. Imagine being unable to connect your interests with the various areas because you need to be made aware of how the world is organised. What unites us is architecture, a place where we, our friends, and our families may congregate. Given that the purpose of architecture is to offer enclosed interior space for human occupation, there will essentially always be architecture in some form as long as there are humans and their issues.

Architecture without humans and vice versa - Sheet2
”Hustle, Bustle, Chaos- Need for a flat peaceful land”_©Shibuya Sky

Human Life and Architecture

Since their inception, human life and architecture have always coexisted or had a mutually beneficial connection. Although the original purpose of architecture was to protect people from the elements, it has evolved into a global narrator of numerous historical events and eras. 

Humans live in a material, temporal, and programmable cosmos. The oldest measurement units were drawn from the human body to ensure that constructions were built on a human size. Then they created different configurations to elicit varied sentiments and meanings. For instance, horizontal arrangements evoke thoughts of acceptance and calm, but vertical ones evoke feelings of brilliance, defiance, and glory. They tried to translate their emotions, visions, and thoughts into concrete form by observing the geometric patterns in nature and constructing abstract spaces in their minds. A sculpture, an architectural space, or a sizable planned metropolis are the end products of this process. They used various building materials to produce designs that are more aesthetically beautiful and offer a better sensory experience. As these materials get older, they change. They tell tales from various times and cultures as they rot, fade, and wither.

”Human Scale”_©Dane Alonso

The Significance of Architecture 

At its core, architecture serves to construct the physical surroundings where people live, but it also plays a role in shaping our society. It serves as an illustration of both how we view the outside world and how we view ourselves. Even though the concept of a shelter is quite simple, the form of buildings was initially affected by the local climate, the readily available materials, and the aspirations of the society that created them. Even in contemporary architecture, it was crucial to recognise cultural nuances as styles evolved and the world became more integrated.

Architecture without humans and vice versa - Sheet4

The evolution of the building over time appears much better when you examine it. You can think of architecture as the most honourable mode of transportation for humans if we consider some pillars in the history of human motivation, such as paying respect to our ancestors, celebrating glory, displaying inventiveness, pursuing knowledge, and trumpeting emancipation. Thanks to architecture, we now have a respectable method to respond to death, failure, hatred, stupidity, and greed. We await new, equally grandiose reactions to remedy our overshoot. Indeed, creativity, sustainability, and inclusivity already exist. If architecture has yet to be able to synchronise with these objectives from the outside, it might always do so from within. if necessary, through an unwelcome practice. If required, together with the outputs necessary to make up the expenditures.

Reference List:

  1. Author links open overlay panelFangqing Lyu and 1960s, A.S.the (2019) Architecture as spatial storytelling: Mediating human knowledge of the world, humans and architecture, Frontiers of Architectural Research. Elsevier. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095263519300317 (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  2. Can you imagine a world without architecture? – sci-arc (no date) SCI. Available at: https://www.sciarc.edu/news/2017/can-you-imagine-a-world-without-architecture (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  3. Shaikh, T. (2022) Gone World – humans without architecture, RTF | Rethinking The Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/narratives/a7530-gone-world-humans-without-architecture/ (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  4. Sharma, C. (2023) Human existence: Within architecture or without architecture, RTF | Rethinking The Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/narratives/a7514-human-existence-within-architecture-or-without-architecture/#:~:text=Without%20Architecture%20%7C%20Human%20Existence,gatherer%20lifestyle%20of%20human%20beings (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 
  5. Stead, N. (2017) Sometimes a thing is not “properly” architectural, but has something profound to say about the discipline., Places Journal. Available at: https://placesjournal.org/article/within-and-without-architecture/ (Accessed: April 15, 2023). 

Liyana Lajudheen is an ardent reader and a film enthusiast. Currently pursuing architecture in India, she is keen on travelling and would like to explore different cultures. Though she treads lightly on the technical aspects, she is a vivid imaginer and can go places in just a flick of a moment.