Architects might be the only people in the world for whom the effect, a building has on its surroundings, is as important, as the building itself. A courtyard, we feel, is the heart of the building. And not just the void you pass through. It connects its sheltered spaces to the sun and the breeze outside. 

We don’t see skyscrapers for their shimmering glass-clad shells. Instead, we marvel at the intricate joints of steel that bear its might. Gardens and public squares are the souls of the city and streets are for people to celebrate.  All voids are sacred to us and God is in the details.

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An airy Syrian courtyard_©www.abbis.photo

 

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the iconic Chrysler building _©https://pixels.com/featured/chrysler-building-and-empire-state-building-jon paul.html [Accessed 27 Mar. 2021].
The rapport we have with colours is also extremely complex. As, for us, textures reign supreme. We take great pride in showcasing the unique finish every material bears. And strive each time to ensure that every colour and texture compliments the pallet it is a part of, under a theme that radiates the emotion we want the space to echo.

We dwell in spaces through the emotions they invoke, and the experience they offer. Not unlike people, each structure and space that people require has a purpose that it was created for. As architects, we enjoy looking at the functionality of these spaces and the method by which they were created to fulfil their purpose. 

This keen insight into the functionality of the building and journeys and life cycles of the people who live and work in these spaces is something we develop through the continual practice of our education. 

Our perception of everything around us undergoes a complete metamorphosis. It starts from the day we first enter architecture school and then becomes our way of life. Almost unknowingly, we start to observe and analyse our environments through the many filters our architectural eye screens them for. We see it all in terms of figures and grounds, similarities, symmetries, and closure. We keep Occam’s razor up our sleeves, and the ever-prevalent lens of design helps us understand it all. 

The object, space, its neighbours, and everything it is attached to, all speak to us. 

They tell us stories of their relationships through a distinct harmony we sense around them. 

Some ringing with the touch of someone who nurtured it with design. Some aching out of neglect and miscommunication. Ones who have learned, out of experience to work with one another, while some sing of the beauty they lost to the ever-evolving times. 

We are all but fluent in the language of stone and steel. We can both speak and listen with our eyes and our skin. So many nuances, so full of life and vigour go unnoticed to the layman’s eye, but we listen to all that it has to say. 

It speaks to us in many dialects, of various emotions that they invoke, though Simple combinations of light, texture, and juxtaposed volumes. We don’t only feel these emotions, we understand how to influence these combinations, to invoke them. Sculpting a museum to echo the horrors of the holocaust, to an extent that a simple stroll through its topography can take you through the terror the times stood for is a feat that only a master of this influence can achieve. As Daniel Libeskind did in the Jewish museum in Berlin.

 

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the silence of a thousand screams, as four walls speak©http://www.ispyplumpie.com/berlin-exploring-jewish-museum-topography-of-terror-new-synagogue [Accessed 27 Mar. 2021].
Through these combinations, the philosophies of great men have also been immortalized in built form. the spaces of which ring clear with the vibrance of all that they stood for in their lives. The Sabarmati Ashram by Ar. Charles Correa in Ahmedabad achieves the same, forever embodying the undying spirit of peaceful resistance that Mahatma Gandhi taught us all. 

simplicity, equality, freedom for all©https://archeyes.com/sabarmati-ashram-museum-gandhi-residence-charles-correa/.

The sacred relationship between the courtyard and the balconies of the chawls in Mumbai is another example. They are incomplete without one another. The cricket matches, housed in the courtyard, wouldn’t be the same without the grandparents (they would be grandparents to all the children of the chawl) leaning over the balcony to cheer you on as you hit a match-winning six. 

Imagine removing a child who grew up in this setup and putting her in an apartment where she will never see her neighbours. It would be such a crime; all the balconies would face the wrong way. 

This small difference is one only two people will notice. The child herself, and the architect who observed. And that is truly our superpower, we can put ourselves in the mind of this child to understand her relationship with the crowded and cramped chawl that was her beautiful home, and attempt, in some way, to give her the same equation with the apartment we shift her into. 

It is in this process of understanding and observing the relationships people have to space and buildings around them, that we try to create similar equations between the spaces we design and the people we design them for. This relationship of empathy between stone, steel, and people is what, we as architects spend a lifetime translating, and learning this hidden language is what gives us our special architectural eye.

 

Image References:

Image 1-Name : Anon, (n.d.). Traditional Courtyard Houses – ABBIS PHOTO. [online] 

Author : M.Z Alabidin 

Available at : http://www.abbis.photo/portfolio/traditional-courtyards/

Image 2
Name : Pixels. (n.d.). Chrysler Building and Empire State Building 

Author :by Jon Paul. [online] 

Available at

https://pixels.com/featured/chrysler-building-and-empire-state-building-jon-   paul.html [Accessed 27 Mar. 2021].

Image 3
Name : I Spy Plum Pie. (2016). Berlin Exploring: Jewish Museum, Topography of Terror New Synagogue. [online] 

Author : Not Found

Available at : http://www.ispyplumpie.com/berlin-exploring-jewish-museum-topography-of-terror-new-synagogue [Accessed 27 Mar. 2021].

Image 4
Name : Arch Eyes (2016). Gandhi Memorial Museum (Sabarmati Ashram) / Charles Correa. [online] 

Author : Charles correa Archives

Available at : https://archeyes.com/sabarmati-ashram-museum-gandhi-residence-charles-correa/.

Image 5
Name of text : The Chawls and Slums of Mumbai: Story of Urban Sprawl 

Author : TITHI SANYAL Master of Architecture 2018. (n.d.). [online].

Available at: https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/143823/A_12%20The%20Chawls%20and%20Slums%20of%20Mumbai.pdf.

Author

Shreya Joglekar is Currently an Architecture Student who up until her college life has shifted cities every other year. Having been Born Raised And Transferred all over the country, she loves to study and unravel the characters of the cities she lives in and the people she meets.