Architecture or the built environment is what we are always surrounded by. Throughout the day, there are a series of spaces we come across which affect us and influence our mindsets. The built environment has the power to maneuver a person’s emotions through its spatial configurations and other atmospheric features. A space might evoke different emotions depending on the lighting, sound, and other spatial parameters. The way and structure of built forms, facades, colors, and technology affect the appearance of a space which ultimately triggers emotions.

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The many aspects of the Built Environment_ @https://www.theiet.org

Association with Culture

People relate to space more if it is associated with their culture and traditions. Over several centuries, the style of architecture has evolved and the cities we see today are an amalgamation of the present and past times. Built forms have varied construction techniques, styles, colors, and cultural inspirations. People from different age groups and cultures associate with these in a different manner. For example, a person in his sixties might get intimidated by the skyscrapers but the youth considers it a symbol of ambition and success. A person from a sub-urban area would feel more comfortable in the hustle and bustle of a local market than in the air-conditioned spaces of a shopping complex where the people of the city go for their daily needs. 

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Diagram depicting workplace culture within the built environment_ @https://urban.uw.edu

Perception of Built Environment

Not only does culture and age group define our perception of spaces, but also the fraternity we belong to. Houses with a slant roof are considered cute by people but as architects, we know that it is of no relevance in a place with minimal rainfall and no snowfall. The variation in the fenestrations, the specific height at which they are placed, the difference in the facades on the buildings on either side of the roads, and the ratio of wall to the window on each façade is something which is understood by the design fraternity in a very natural manner.

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Spatial perceptions within the built environment_ @https://medium.com

Effect of Globalization

This thought process of understanding the intent behind a design is something that gets instilled naturally in a design school or an architectural college. With the evolved techniques of designing, production, and execution, there are huge blobs of similar-looking pieces being created everywhere. The uniqueness and the identity of a place are being lost. A shopping complex in Hyderabad would be very similar to the one in New Delhi. The purpose might be the same but the audience this built form is catering to is quite varied and of different cultures. This uniqueness and belongingness are what is lost in present-day architecture. If this is continued then there is no denying the fact that across the globe, a single unified pattern would be observed. People might refer to it as globalization and unification of the world at a common ground but globalization is not replicating. It is about understanding the intent and creating something relevant to the local culture. Learning global and implementing local is what should be adopted.

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Imapct of Globalization on the Built Environment_ @https://medium.com

This required change can be brought about by the students in design schools and various architectural firms. Collaborating, brainstorming, and working together are something that can help solve all the issues. But what about the issue which hinders this solution. The March of 2020 changed everything for the world and gave it a new definition. Online meetings, meeting virtually, and working alone became the new normal. The built spaces were no longer comfortable, instead, the open areas became the new soul of the city. Covid gave a new dimension to the built forms and thought process. The value of public spaces, people, and openness was something that everyone understood. At the end of the day, being social and collaborating is synonymous with humans. So this huge change acted as a tectonic shift in the mindsets of people and designers. The gradually getting casual approach was given time and thought and innovation took a turn. Studies turned online but the art to manage home and work was learned. Ultimately, we got through it and are going through it.

Change is was and always will be necessary and an external agent is necessary to break the inertia of the space. The built environment has always been a major contributor to depicting the change, be it over the centuries of different dynasties, be it social beliefs, be it of cultures, or be it of economic growth. The power of architecture is something that cannot be denied or whiled away. The reach of spaces and the lives it affects is massive hence it is an undying fact that change is inevitable and architecture will continue to showcase it.

 

Author

Rajita Jain is an architect by profession who engages with the dynamics of urban spaces and the people. She aims at developing ways of amalgamating cultural and traditional beliefs with modern day technology to give the urban fabric a vernacular sensitivity.

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