An exhaustive field to work in, the world of architecture is immense and incredibly diverse. Over the years, the profession has changed drastically. Advancements in technology may have changed the way we express our designs, but an architecture student’s journey generally remains a common experience.
Amongst the various aspects of our education, one of the first habits that we are taught to imbibe is to question. This skill enables us to study a built environment like a linear narrative rather than a stationary structure.
As one dives deeper into this narrative, the finer intricacies of a design begin to unravel. It is an important transition for students to understand that architecture is more than just a physical manifestation of a theoretical concept.
Architecture has wide-reaching impacts on the community as a whole and may outline the quality of life for the user. Depending on the building typology, an architect may have to venture into unknown fields to understand the functional requirements as well as the concerning sociological factors.
This allows for research in varied fields, acquiring knowledge on topics that may have nothing in common with building design. Hence, this intensive research forces one to reconsider the way we think, live and interact with our environment.
The Need to Evolve
A major portion of architectural education revolves around examining the information available to us to provide creative solutions. The interpretation of data is a perceptual skill that varies amongst professionals. Perception is a highly personal outlook, that is, in part, guided by the weight of our own experiences and external influences.
A perceived space, then, becomes an idea that seems to coincide with our understanding of reality. A reality whose comprehension is bound by individual biases.
A diversity in perception creates a space for chaotic dialogue within the field; each derivative is criticized, edited, and argued upon. This eventually provides a refined option that serves the collective ‘one’. Naturally, the more one learns and grows, the more informed and justified one’s designs become. Therefore, a certain level of curiosity must be maintained to keep evolving in our rapidly growing world.
Flexibility may also be required to withstand the gruelling amounts of scrutiny an architect must face. However, these help in creating adaptable innovative designs that take the profession forward and make way for intriguing discourse.
The Human Factor
All designs revolve around humans. A user-centric design approach is considered to be the ideal way to tackle any brief and functionality over form may arguably be the ideology to follow. Hence, the identification of the user is a critical aspect of any architectural design, especially in public and community spaces. However, no designed space will have an isolated effect on just the identified user; thus, this user group cannot be studied alone.
Any building type, from skyscrapers to local markets, will each have wide-reaching ramifications that function beyond the site boundary. A built environment may have ecological, cultural, and economic effects on a macro level. So, while humans may be the prime focus of a design, the surrounding context cannot be ignored. This further highlights the woven nature of architecture and humans with our environment and connected contexts.
A built environment can also be used to identify the conditions of its residents. As income disparity increases, the architectural surroundings of each economic group severely degrades as we move down the hierarchical ladder. In this way, architecture, on its own, is a great equaliser & divider at the same time. A cyclical process is, thus, created, where design is informed by people and people are regulated by design.
An architect needs to acknowledge the numerous cultures overlayed in several cities of habitation. A sensitivity towards indigenous groups and their habitats must be generated to maintain the cultural integrity of a location. With technology, sustainability, and capitalism coming to the forefront of any design problem, conservation of these communities has taken a back seat. This problem is evident in one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, India.
An age-old debate between modernism and nationalism has created a dichotomous existence of architecture within the peninsula. In a country where the echoes of the past are drowned out by the bustling new life that has sprouted within its veins, these two lives coexist and intersect to form spaces with immense contextual intensity.
The cacophony of sounds of an Indian street tells a thousand different stories, of a thousand different lives, forgotten by time. The more sensitive you become to each harmony in this chaos, the more these conjoined intersections begin to unravel. Understanding these connections and provide a cohesive solution that includes culture in the placemaking process is critical to areas with a rich heritage.
Not every issue can be solved with the help of architecture. However, its impact on our lives and our planet is vast. The climate crisis has further put a spotlight on the impact of construction on habitats. As we continue to grow, our solutions must also evolve. Once you start looking at architecture through an analytical lens, it ceases to be just a structure or a confined three-dimensional space.
Understanding architecture is not limited to its structural or aesthetical components; rather, it is an extension of the human spirit of a society. It provides us with an insight into the inner mechanisms of any community and is a symbol and tool to understand the collective issues and affairs. Hence, the field is revealed to be a conjunction point for all aspects of life that become more defined over time. And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg.