Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others – Jonathan Swift 

Architects and architecture students develop an expectant eye for places, spaces, and built forms. Don’t we?

Well, characteristically stating your opinion on the design of a restaurant, when out with friends for lunch, is proof enough for that right? Being on a road or at a hotel or maybe a museum on a trip evolves into something more than simply just being in the built spaces. It develops into an experience of space. 

The experience defines the vision and perception of an individual for the very building or space. Now, what matters is, how does that perception differ from person to person. How much of it is because of the involvement in academic or professional architecture? Well, architecture does impact our perceptions as a whole. Let’s find out how.  

The vision of the creative eye for the built environment - Sheet3
Collage – Perceptions_Photo by Richard Vergez on flickr_©

Architecture’s impact on human perception

When looking at space, although we all “see” the same thing, we operate and understand things differently mainly because of our different social, cultural, religious, and geographical backgrounds. ( Julean D, 2016)

Architectural industry and academics are thus meant to open the eyes of individuals to observation whilst experience. Though ‘beautiful’ or ‘good’ design is a subjective matter, people of the architectural industry develop few common bases to judge a space or project to define it in a certain manner. For an architectural student, on the basis of micro-climate, orientation, built and open ratio, and so on, a museum/public space would be a good design or not. Whereas, on the other hand, unaware and uninvolved with those bases on an everyday frequency, a common user would define the museum in terms of displays, involvement of exhibits, and maybe how tiresome the experience was. The whole idea of architectural education is more or less laid on the foundation of honing observation and analysis skills. 

The vision of the creative eye for the built environment - Sheet1
Illustration – Mind took over by the architecture_Photo Illustration By Najeebah Al-Ghadban

The design evolution of a building or space suggests an all-inclusive knowledge of the building or space typology that one is developing. This further means that one is aware of the questions and doubts associated with the built spaces’ use and efficiency. Not just questions, one is aware of the answers to these questions as well. Hence, the designing process happens. Thus, when an architectural professional/student looks at a space – a building, public space, or even a city as a whole, he/she would not just end up seeing or looking at it, as what it is, but would instead try to figure out, how it was built and evolved, how is it working and what could be alternate solutions for the same. 

There, that is when people from architectural backgrounds start exasperating their peers, friends, mates, or family with their observations. “Oh come on, we are having dinner! Stop telling us how the facade of the restaurant isn’t doing justice!” – all of us have heard something like that. But do we stop, ever? Never mind, the heart wants what it wants. 

How does architectural education shape us?

Winston Churchill has rightly said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” The difference between an architect’s perception of the built environment before and after architectural education can be defined as the impact of their work’s evolution on their psyche. If while on a flight, you have started observing how the scale changes and what the urban space built unbuilt ratio looks like, then you have definitely either entered architectural school or did in the past. 

For a common user, space does have psychological effects, but the person is usually unaware of how the height, colors, or materials affect him/her. Whereas, an architect can define those impacts based on education and thus state the cause of the impacts too. Between the three types of spaces, projected (not built yet, virtual space), produced (actual built environment in all its instances), and perceived (as understood by the user), an architect is equipped to analyze all three and their differences too. On the other hand, the common user might find it difficult to imagine the projected space typology, will just see the produced space for what it is, and would thus have a very different perceived space in mind without analysis of the instances of the built environment.

The vision of the creative eye for the built environment - Sheet2
Illustration – Buildings in thoughts_©

Architectural and design education always encourages creativity. To meet with the concept of creativity at an early age makes people more conscious of their living environment. Guilford (1950) stated that “a creative act is an instance of learning” and “a comprehensive learning theory must take into account both insight and creative activity.” 

Is the impact all positive? 

Well, they say that too much of anything is good for nothing. Involvement of professional knowledge and psyche in personal space to a great extent does bother people around us. Over time, such a creative eye for the built environment might hinder architect’s from having their breaks from professional life. Maybe a creative expectant eye does not harm but a constant desire to express and state what your expectant eye and architectural conscience feels, could not be categorized as a positive impact of architecture on your life. 

Now, in today’s context with things rapidly taking over the online world, architects have rediscovered their love for expressing their vision through art but in a more digital way. Architectural illustrations by architects, critical-based writings are a few examples we have seen lately. One of the major impacts of technology and these advancements is the distance created between the creator of the design and the created design. The design thus becomes more and more visual, the connection with context reduces and perception of the built environment changes due to the things being majorly on the projected space category. However, the manual drawing and the building of solids help to build a bridge connecting the architect and his/her building. The connection is what in other words is what the built environment’s impact was on the architect. 

Illustration – Vision of the observant ©

Architecture does define how and what we think, how we perceive buildings and spaces. It shapes and nurtures the human brain to ask the right questions and eventually raises debates over what is good for society as a whole. This leads the way to a better architectural world. It’s easier to witness, observe and analyze than to sit around and read. The evident loud analysis by architectural professionals of space is how they evolve. That is how architecture shapes and impacts them, further helping them shape a better world through their works for society and people. 

References list

  • Julean, D. (2016) Why Architects See Things Differently An Architectural Approach On Teaching Space Perception. European Scientific Journal Special Edition, pp. 1-2.
  • Admin (2014). An overview of the role and influence of digital technology on architecture design. [online] ierek news. Available at: [Accessed 3 Jul. 2021].

Tanya Singh is a compassionate architecture student who believes architecture has the strength to define and shape society. She is driven by curiosity, desire to achieve meticulous solutions to problems and perseverance. She believes spaces, places and buildings speak their own language. Perceiving this language well is what good architecture is all about.

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