From the first year in architecture, we’ve been listening to the term, ‘visual’. What is a visualization and how is it associated with architecture? Visualization acts as a tool, a very major tool in architecture & design. Visualization may be an impressively detailed render image or a simple pencil sketch. One may notice the development in their visualization through the journey in architecture. These developments occur not only in our tools but also in our perspectives. Architects start to develop or adapt their style of architectural design and hence develop a perspective towards the local architecture.
The evolution from a Layman to an Architect
Where a menial may see only an old structure in ruins, the architect will find a gem, a heritage to be preserved. This perspective is slowly inherited by the architects during their creative process. This perspective of creative personnel is their most key tool. This is where the ideas & innovations come from. As architect Mies Van Der Rohe said, “GOD IS IN THE DETAILS”. These details are perceived to the eye of an architect or a designer. This radical pair of eyes not only scrutinizes the detail in other works but also develops its interpretation in the mind. The eye can be both, a worshipper & a criticizer. But it takes a designer’s eye to see through the depth. For example, when a layman looks at a skyscraper standing amidst the city, reaching for the clouds, they will be amazed, impressed. Even their criticism will be limited to fundamental units like the economy, climate, or other impacts. But an architect’s eye will run right through the structural systems, to the vertical connectivity, up to the fire escapes, and back to the facades. These details are in every design, the heritage, art forms, landscape, sculptures, etc.
This huge impact of architecture on the architect’s frame of reference allows them to constantly learn through visuals and hence, develop their style of architecture. This quest to ponder all art in the surroundings, sometimes makes them miss the aura of the building. Sometimes, the art is not to pore over but to feel. The sense of energy is also a guide in itself.
When in Architecture…
At this point, we all have experienced how important a teacher the process of visualization is. Imagine, if a certain type of architecture fades and leaves behind nothing to observe. A whole type of architecture less to impact the styles of budding architects. This could be our heritage which is either neglected or painted in the name of conservation. The raw nature of the design is deteriorating with each passing day. While the concrete jungles are taking over slowly, these exquisite structures that stood the test of time giving different characters to the architecture of the place around them, are now failing the human impact. The visual impact these extraordinary structures made has been beyond explanation only awe to the human eye, both menial and architect alike. Some of the structural systems crafted in an era of no machinery are a wonder even for the experts. The delicacy of intricate figurines carved into heavy materials with such artistic details is a picturesque view & a topic of wonder.
Observation is the most excellent teacher in architecture. It is bad enough that we’re losing the heritage slowly, online learning has also hugely impacted this visual form of learning in architecture. Architectural education has always been associated with fieldwork, site visits & study tours. The classroom culture isn’t widely seen. Even the studio hours are in the form of interactive learning or group activities. The only online time spent is scrolling through social media, still looking at innovations & updates in architecture via magazines & other platforms. The online classrooms have not only reduced the interaction with teachers but also hampered the fieldwork immensely.
The online culture has even triggered higher stress among the students. Work hours have been doubled, the confinement during work, less interaction to the outdoors, reduced practical help, etc. are certain factors affecting the covid batches. Not to mention how the online exams have reduced the value of the mark sheets forcing students to take up additional projects alongside college to prove their worth. This form of learning may seem convenient in terms of traveling efforts & printing costs, but not for learning the traditional way. Although, appreciation should be given to the teachers coming up with innovative ways to cope with the learning even in these tough times. If we prepare a comparison chart for the learning before & after online education, we’ll be struck by the realization of how much the peeps are missing.
The chaos in the studio while discussing the designs that instigate ideas, the bunks in the construction yard to complete the long-pending brick arch, the constant nagging to professors after classes with designs, breaks in courtyards where the greater goods were discussed & debated upon, and the library tours in between lectures to find new reads, all played a huge role in architecture learning culture. Attending exhibitions held by other colleges as well as organizations around the city, heritage walks, study tours, etc. are all eradicated completely by online learning. All these essentials are replaced by the mere formality of attending theory lectures & stressful self-studies. How can we replace the learning by visualization, observation & feel of an actual visit to a building by simply reading about it & looking through a screen? This could probably be one of the worst ways in which covid has affected our architectural community.