Architecture is the process of planning, designing, and constructing built structures or spaces. It is a mix of aesthetics and functional aspects of a space. Before joining architecture, nobody understands the worth of any space, as the word “architecture” had a very vague understanding. Let’s take the example of the Taj Mahal. Pretty sure before joining architecture, nobody knew why it had been an architectural marvel and one among the seven wonders of the planet. Even if one was curious to understand, nobody knew about the event, leading to such a gorgeous design. Everyone just saw the structure because it is, hook line and sinker the design’s existence, even about living environments, nobody questions the why’s and how’s, and its effect on us.

Unveiling Architecture: A Journey from Ignorance to Perception - Sheet1
The Taj Mahal_© Jovyn Chamb / Unsplash

Look at the picture above. Before starting architecture, would you have ever thought about why white marble is the primary building material? Or how were the arches designed? Or how were the domes intended to give a bulbous look? Or how was the design developed? No, right? That is the first difference between before architecture and after architecture.

The change within the way anyone related to architecture perceives starts during the primary week of architecture undergrad school itself. From that time itself, students get an idea of how the course will be and what terminologies they will encounter frequently. Students learn basic concepts in the first week of graduate school, just like expressing ideas, surrounding awareness, abstract, spacing, etc. Activities like sketching any space in the campus/college, collage design, best out of waste models, conceptual design to understand used and unused spaces. In that way, once they see an area, their eyes capture used and unused spaces and analyze its necessities, arising with probable solutions.

When students learn about the concept of ‘Design’ and the elements and principles of design, students become more aware of their surroundings and start noticing minute details. In this time, they are also introduced to famous architects, understand their design techniques, strategies, and principles, understand why architects used such process and the factors/ reasons that led them to design. These learnings lead to curiosity in a student, understand the why’s and how’s better, and criticize.

Along with the design, they learn about structure, construction systems, and parts of a building. They learn about load aspects, stability, basic physics concepts like shear force, strain, and material strength. They then understand the wants for a building to stay stable in normal and extreme forces and analyze them by observing the buildings they visit daily, like their residence, college, etc. Also, they study structures that are known for their structural aspects/ any high-rise buildings and skyscrapers.

Construction techniques and Materials_©

Slowly, when they learn concepts like services and history, they understand the functional aspect of the spaces, the user experience, climatic factor, design development, and evolution.

Once the students get to know about their first design project and the pre-design process, they holistically approach the design development. Here, students learn anthropometry to understand the human scale and proportion and the amount of space an average human takes. They get introduced to NBC, Time-Saver Standards, and Neuferts and study areas, improving their scale and proportional analysis. They try observing issues like cramped spaces in their living environment and analyzing them.

Site analysis helps the scholar understand the context, climate, site history (if there’s any, counting on the site’s location), and site features. This analysis will help in originating the design and how the plan will be oriented. Now the students understand geographical aspects and why it is different in design and construction systems in various places in the same country and other foreign countries. They also appreciate the cultural part and social aspect of a place to implement aesthetics in their design.

As they move to senior years, their scale of the project increases. This increase helps them think on a larger scale, analyze connectivity, site access, orientation based on different factors, and zoning.

In terms of learning more about detailing, they are taught about working drawings to understand building services, placement, and the importance of adequately understanding building functionality.

After learning all of those, their observation skills improve significantly. When they notice a building or space, they try to think backward, i.e., how could space possibly be developed from scratch to the final design. The possible challenges the architect would have faced, site strengths and weaknesses, context, cultural aspects, and more importantly, what inspired the architect to style the structure/ space, helps to understand the concepts used while developing. Such observations help inspire architects to implement new strategies

“About one thing, however, I am sure: when we, as architects are concerned with space, we are contending with but a tiny part of the infinity that surrounds the earth and yet each and every building marks a unique place in that infinity”. Peter Zumthor


  • Jovyn Chamb. Taj Mahal. [Photograph]. Unsplash
  • TMD STUDIO LTD  (2017) Spatial Perception and Architecture

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