The genesis of architecture can be credited to the human need for aesthetic appeal and usability. For eons, built space around us has been molded to reflect cultural evolution and the diverse purposes associated with it. From monoliths to ornate spires, jewels studded in stone to exposed concrete, the art of space-making has adapted to the ever-changing demands of society. It is the people who decide what and how to build structures that resonate with and define their daily life.
The transition from merely an act of building a shelter to an art lies in the fact that architecture responds to situations. Buildings are not just iterations of bricks and mortar with a roof to shield occupants from the elements. They are a combination of solutions that resolve climate, topography, material, calamities, and functionality while also incorporating the subtleties of personalization. Buildings make statements. They blend with the surroundings or they stand out in a crowd. Some are made to be gawked at while some hardly gather a second glance. All in all, they are functional canvases for architects and a manifestation of creative ideas.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Humans are social creatures. With a natural tendency to interact and move, it is imperative for surrounding design to facilitate bonding and attachment, both with the structure itself and its surroundings. According to research carried out by the psychologist, Irwin Altman, environment behavior phenomena such as proxemics, privacy, and physical design, range of user groups, and place settings play a pivotal role in creating healthy spaces that encourage holistic growth and boost mental health. Such factors can make or break the efficiency of spatial design.
For instance, colors are often associated with various qualities and are regarded to induce emotions when used in a particular space. The presence of natural elements like water bodies and plants evokes an aura of tranquility. Ample natural lighting and openness are linked to physical health and mood stabilization. Similarly, dull and uninspiring forms tend to bring on anxiety and stress. Lack of variation and personalization leads to insipid environments with absolutely no potential to unlock individual interests or harness a creative community conjuncture.
Architecture and Community
A striking example of how design can go wrong is the infamous Pruitt-Igoe Apartment Complex at St.Louis, Missouri, USA. Diving headfirst into erroneous assumptions, racial segregation, and improper planning led to the downfall of this multi-tower public housing scheme. Within a few years, the complex which aimed to be a hotspot for working-class residents filled with amenities and luxuries turned out to harbor a rising crime rate, a lack of maintenance, and gradually, complete desertion.
In contrast, we see the structured urban planning of the city of Vancouver, Canada. With an intent to bring homes and workplaces closer, the planners introduced clusters of commercial, community, leisure, and workspaces within well-outlined, enclosed areas. With a considerable improvement in transit and proximity, residents are rewarded with a healthier lifestyle. Over sixty percent of trips are non-motorized due to ease of access to spaces and movement. The city sprawl houses almost no parking lots and instead uses the space for more productive, diverse purposes and integrates the local community into the urban space with incentivized, flexible programs.
Integration with Society
Engagement of the user in design shows human culture and promotes critique. People connect with the spaces they live in. They attach memories and are territorial. A simple window frame can have centuries’ worth of stories to tell. From ancestral homes to sacred religious buildings, architecture has stood the test of time whilst weaving webs of nostalgia.
People describe spaces as ‘must-see’, buildings are lauded with opinions, star-architects are born and places are identified with just a simple outline of a ‘landmark’. A mere stroll down a busy street or a place-setting scene in a movie can evoke multiple connotations.
Heralding the Future
Architecture has always stood testament to an era. It has been a symbol, defining a generation of thoughts, traditions, and practices. But in the wake of globalization and polyculturalism, space-making calls for a deeper commitment to the future. Sustainability and adapting to climate change have long gone past being just a choice to implement in design. Architects of today don’t build with the grandeur and glory of the Greeks. Design is conscious and sensitive to the environment and the social system. Vision is not limited to one ideology or method but combines centuries of techniques with the advancement of technology. Approaches are interdisciplinary and highly inclusive to transition into tomorrow.
To conclude, architecture plays more than just a direct role in shaping lives. Homes go beyond shelters and cities beyond dense urban clusters. Design is powerful. Combined with centuries of heritage and a resplendent potential, architects can be credited with a magnanimous capability of fusing the past with the present, keeping in mind the needs of the future.
Beasley, Larry and Barnett, Jonathan. (2015). Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs. Washington: Island Press Publications.
©https://thetowerinfo.com/milan-cathedral-facts/, The spires on the roof of Milan Cathedral.[Photograph]
©Fernando Guerra, A Park of Concrete Monoliths. [Photograph]
©https://stacbond.com/en/prague-dancing-house-velvet-revolution-building/, Dancing House in Prague.[Photograph]
©https://kabatravel.com/package/new-year-in-brussels-and-amsterdam-6-days-e-599/, Casas Barco Amsterdam. [Photograph]
©Sheppard Robson, Media City Booths.[Photograph]
©Library of Congress, Pruitt Igoe 1.[Photograph]
©Library of Congress,Pruitt Igoe 2.[Photograph]
©https://www.tourismvancouver.com, Vancouver Downtown City Aerial.[Photograph]
©Printed by Sarawat Printers & Designers, Saudia Arabia, [c. 2011] Postcard showing the Ka‘ba, Mecca. [Photograph]
©https://en.blog.kkday.com/16797/america-new-york-skyline-buildings, New York Skyline.[Photograph]
©https://pardisservices.co.uk/2019/09/26/the-future-of-buildings/, The Future of Buildings.[Photograph]