All the advancements and achievements we see today are thanks to a simple instinct we all have, an instinct to reach for the better. If our ancestors had stopped asking, “how should we make life better and why?”, we certainly would not be here celebrating architecture, among other numerous developments in humanity. After centuries of evolution, architecture has finally transformed from a fundamental need to a holistic combination of art, culture, science, and much more. 

One may notice how architecture may change from place to place, or the year it was built. All thanks to the human desire to inject their culture or individuality into their spaces. This is why the built structures, though set in stone or concrete, may be perceived differently from person to person. This contrast in perception varies greatly, especially for people who are part of the community that designs these spaces. Designing comes with realizing that architecture is more than just built forms.

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Visiting the Taj Mahal – Regular People vs. Architects_©The Leewardists

“To create one must first question everything.” – Eileen Gray, Architect, and Furniture Designer.

In asking all the questions, we slowly start to “unlearn” and relearn a plethora of things about architecture.

World, Architecture, and Impact

As one takes a deeper dive into the architecture community, the power architecture holds in changing the world becomes undeniable. As architects, we are shaping the world one built form at a time. For instance, homelessness is one of the significant concerns we humankind face today. The smallest of efforts or ideas from architects can create brilliant solutions to the situation.

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The Hilda L. Solis Care First Village, a housing project by Los Angeles Department of Public Works in collaboration with NAC Architecture_© Paul Vu.

Unfortunately, like a coin has two sides, we live in a world where people have taken the time to conjure up ways to create anti-homeless spaces. It really drives a message that we are not just some employees working in cubicles. Things we put on paper might make someone’s life easier or equally worse.

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Concrete spikes under a road bridge in Guangzhou city, Guangdong, China_© ImaginechinaREX

Architecture and its Design

It may be shocking to find that a bulk of Indians still don’t know what it is exactly the “architecture” (read: architects) do. “Is it not just about drawing?” they’d ask. Well, to put it in perspective, we do draw, but we mainly design, we craft spaces carefully after considering the context, climate, users, and whatnot; anything and everything that might affect the user experience is taken into consideration. When one walks through a room, they might not notice all the little details that went into making it what it is. But it is felt by them involuntarily. A great example of this is the Jewish Museum in Berlin, by Daniel Libeskind. Through a play of light, shadows, void, and volume, Libeskind created an emotional journey for its visitors.

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In Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman’s installation “Fallen Leaves,” at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, a river of cast-iron faces disappears into the void_© Flickr

While architecture is not solely dependent on the visual image, it does play a huge role in how a built form is perceived by someone. And like any visual form of art, architecture follows design principles. Now, the general public would pay no regard to these, or rather, not notice them at all. But these design principles are working in the background, evoking emotions in people without them even realising it. The rhythm, repetition, and the symmetry of the structures and spaces make them jump to life.

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Building Facades as Beautiful, Infinite Patterns_© Alexandre Jacques

People and their Spaces

To the generic public, a public space might just be limited to patches of greenery and a bunch of park benches under the tree; however, the scene is different for architects. From the circulation patterns to the views around the area, the context, and even the flow and traffic of people through the space, everything counts to create unique experiences throughout the public space.

On another note, and scale, skyscrapers were initially built for commercial purposes, but they have slowly crept up and taken over our city skylines. And since then, there has been a competition of ‘who can go taller’ between several countries. As the skyscraper race goes on steadily, the bigger the innovations are than ever to make it possible to build. Skyscrapers can easily become the symbol of the city they stand tall in. For instance, when someone mentions Dubai, the first thing that comes to your mind is, undoubtedly, the Burj Khalifa. 

Our cities are not a result of just the public parks and the skyscrapers. There are many pockets of spaces we may neglect – the negative spaces. They can easily become a problem area if not taken care of. The areas under the bridge are examples of such spaces. It is not until we give them a purpose do they start to transform. As already mentioned, these spaces could either be transformed to create a safe haven for the homeless or be turned into a space that no one can use. 

While architects may carefully craft public spaces or community spaces with certain functions in mind, ultimately, it is the people who define the spaces and give them function. So, architecture affects people, and people, in turn, affect the architecture around them.

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Architecture vs. Life_©The Leewardists

“Buildings are deeply emotive structures which form our psyche”David Adjaye, Architect.

Architecture and the Experience

What might be an ordinary building to the non-architectural folk, might be a masterpiece to an architect or an architecture enthusiast. The built form may be perceived differently by different kinds of people but architecture is experienced just the same by everyone.

If others started designing_©The Leewardists

The ones who truly understand architecture, know that learning about it gives you a childlike curiosity; the power to stop, look at every little detail, soak it in and learn from it. It gives you a new hunger to go out and explore. As an architect, you get to be a designer, an artist, a problem solver, a sculptor and so much more in the same lifetime.

“I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That’s art to me.” – Maya Lin, Designer and Sculptor.

Author

Lekhya, inquisitive by her nature, has a strong appetite for picking up new skills and lessons from life. She believes that literature has the power to bridge the gaps between people and diverse fields.

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