With absolute certainty, it can be said that each individual has their unique perspective, which depends on their experiences and personality. When it comes to architecture, the form taken by it depends on a person’s perspective. And, this perspective is often subject to persistent change. One’s circumstance, character, and knowledge, particularly when it comes to architecture, are prominent factors that account for a difference in perspective.
When reminiscing through the days before one had a solid understanding of architecture, one would recall themselves simply moving around or existing in the spaces without comprehending the value or purpose of the built environment around them. Gaining knowledge about the same enhances how architecture can be perceived; even the simplest of spaces can seem meaningful promoting a paradigm shift of perspectives.
With these fresh outlooks, we start giving attention to little details with complete scrutiny of the space. We brainstorm ideologies and concepts to design more spaces. Also, find ourselves contemplating how it can be further improved or look for any faults and corrections to be made, basically critiquing the space.
For example, a person having sound knowledge of architecture, looking at the picture below would unquestionably have understood certain things like the significance of the material used, the design development process, the form of the building, the concept behind it, the architect, and the architectural styles followed and so on. Whereas, the same person without any knowledge of architecture would not know any of the information and will have a very different and plain perspective about it. This difference shows a primary change in the way architecture is perceived.
Dating back to ancient times, people had perceived architecture as a basic need. Later, there was a gradual gain of its importance as an art and science due to the development of technology and new inventions over time. Designers, artists, and architects were coming up with fresh perspectives as a solution to the problems of the society or just to implement a new different style to their designs giving it a new identity and prominence.
Throughout history, this is shown through various art movements and the architectural style of a particular architect, civilization or region which was followed for a certain period. Perhaps, it was only due to the positive perspectives of the artists and architects, the architecture had been developed greatly.
Every person has a different perspective about the same space; the perspective of a person also greatly varies from one space to another. When spaces of different typologies are taken into consideration, each space has its unique value and functionality that substantially depends on the user’s perspective. To further corroborate this statement; let’s take a look at a few types of spaces and how considering an architectural stance has brought about a change in the perception of that particular space.
Public Places | Change in Perspective
Public places are neutral grounds that are open and accessible to all people. In general, these places seem like common areas amidst a settlement or units wherein people gather and engage with different activities. But in architecture, these places are complex, organic things and design is only a fraction of what goes into making a good public space. Public spaces should project a good image; foster a better sense of community along with promoting human contact and social activities which are comfortable for all users.
Eventually, the success of good public spaces is their inherent ability, through constant management, to accommodate a wide variety of day and night activities. As these are “the places of regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work,” as said by the urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in his book The Great Good Place wherein he speaks about the importance of public places and the excerpt taken from his book explains the meaning of the public spaces clearly.
When one looks at these structures from a general perspective, one can only think of their soaring height and a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from its top but it is much more than that. In an architectural sense, these structures have become a significant geographical phenomenon as they reflect a type of economic activity with social connotations. They become distinctive landmarks, leaving an imprint on the urban landscape.
These groups of complex technical structures make up for a large urban city’s ‘skyline’, a term accepted to showcase a city’s distinctive landscape. “Beauty or beast, the modern skyscraper is a major force with a strong magnetic field. It draws into its physical being all of the factors that propel and characterize modern civilization. The skyscraper is the point where art and the city meet,” quoted by Ada Louis Huxtable, an architectural critic and writer. The writer explains the meaning and significance of a skyscraper in the urban context.
Religious Buildings – Places of Worship | Change in Perspective
The religious buildings are beautiful structures rich in culture and heritage. The purpose of the religious structures is to serve both as housing to those belonging to the religious order and as a place of worship. Generally, a person would not know that the history of architecture is concerned more with religious buildings than any other type because, in most of the past cultures, religious buildings are the most influential, permanent, and expressive ones in many communities.
There is a separate typology of architecture related to religious buildings termed sacral or religious architecture. This typology of buildings can solely represent the period or era they were built in. Before the modern skyscrapers, these buildings were the largest type of structures in the world. A popular quote by a famous architect, Frank Gehry: “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”
Best fits in the case of religious buildings as they are timeless structures and a symbol of representation of the era to which they belong.
The above-stated types are just a few examples of how architecture can change your perspective once you start focusing on the built environment and gain a certain amount of knowledge about it. This further nudges you to research more about different aspects of architecture and look at the spaces with a fresh perspective.
To every individual, it’s a journey from simple blank spaces to spaces with purpose, value, and most importantly good design. An excerpt from the book Thinking Architecture, by Peter Zemther, explains how the right perception of architecture can pervade different experiences and a better approach to the design: “There was a time when I experienced architecture without thinking about it. Sometimes I can almost feel a particular door handle in my hand, a piece of metal shaped like the back of a spoon. I used to take hold of it when I went into my aunt’s garden. That door handle still seems to me like a special sign of entry into a world of different moods and smells. I remember the sound of the gravel under my feet, the soft gleam of the waxed oak staircase, I can hear the heavy front door closing behind me as I walk along the dark corridor and enter the kitchen, the only brightly lit room in the house.”
Ray Oldenburg. (1989). The Great Good Place. Boston: Da Capo Press.
Peter Zumthor. (1998). Thinking Architecture. Switzerland: Birkhauser.
3 Keys to creating Great “Good Places” | Perkins+Will. (n.d). Retrieved on 9th May, 2021 from
Architecture as a consequence of perception | Maciej Skaza.(Feb, 2019). Retrieved on 9th May, 2021 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331304647_Architecture_as_a_Consequence_of_Perception
Why the skyscraper? | Jean Gottmann. (1964). Retrieved on 9th May, 2021 from https://www.jstor.org/stable/212878?seq=1