Nature has always had a close relationship with human beings since the beginning of time. With the advent of architecture, there has been a consistent change in that relationship, and the connection is becoming more and more distant as they prefer to live in cities, around the built structures with facilities and amenities. About 50% of the world’s population is living in the urban fabric at present, which will increase to 2/3 by the 2050s (Donald Schmitt, 2015). The reason for this is the increasing desire for a better quality of life. This suggests a different perspective about the impact of architecture in shaping people’s lives.

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1964-2015 China_©Photo credit David McLeod

Designer’s Lens

While moving through any space, an architect/ designer can figure out how and why a particular space has been designed that way as they learn and practice form, function and aesthetics from the early stages of their academics. The concepts like principles of design, colour theory, the journey from a grand entrance to a small door through a long pathway, the need for transitional spaces, and openings for the north light can be read quite well while going through any building. But as a non-designer or as a user of the building, one’s experience can be quite different. As an architect, it is imperative to always keep the user in mind while designing any space. Although, there have been cases where experimentation with a new style or new material to make the quality of life better has not exactly worked in the user’s favour.

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Bauhaus Building_©Photo credit Christoph Petras 2011

In the example of the Bauhaus Building, there was no applied adornment, just a pragmatic functional approach that produced a schematic and characterless world (Tom Wolfe, 1981). A universal architectural design with broad surfaces and diverse heights that matched the many needs of the school, such as workshops with complete windows defining full transparency and technical classrooms with larger windows. However, there were several shortcomings, such as the lack of a detailed examination of the climate circumstances or the idea of openness and community dominance over an individual’s right to privacy. While the building to date keeps impacting the lives of architects and designers, it did not fulfil the desire of uplifting the lifestyle in terms of functionalism for the user.

Effect of Pandemic on Architecture

Architecture has a major influence on the lives of people. There are coming together spaces, and there are spaces designed where people can enjoy their private time. Therefore, it becomes crucial to understand the importance of a good design. People invest all their savings into building/ buying their dream house with bedrooms larger than life, luxurious apartments with balconies, and so on. With the COVID-19 lockdown, people realized the need for two new spaces in their residences, the need for one’s favourite corner of the house to enjoy coffee or read a book or watch Netflix, and the other was the workspace. Studies have shown that every time one walks into a room, its design and aesthetic will prompt one to use it for that particular function. It often helps to focus and maintain discipline (Sharan,2022). For example, it is often advised to work at a work desk with indirect but bright light entering the room and not on the bed and dark space as the bed primarily serves the purpose of sleeping and hence induces similar thoughts. The addition of even such intricate details into a residence elevates the quality of space exponentially.

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Dedicated Workspace_©Photo credit Magnet.me on Unsplash

Sustainability

Architecture is also responsible for the changes in climate that are caused by the built environment. It is a very challenging field where on the one hand, the architect dreams of building something new every day but is also aware of the consequences that the built space brings with it. Of course, the ideal way to build anywhere would be to build with local material and the vernacular style of the location, respecting the context of the place. Although currently, architects/designers are heavily invested in the trends of using heavy terms such as sustainable architecture or green building without often understanding its actual need or method of application. On the one hand, the builder lobby is constructing residential and commercial buildings without taking any minute consideration of nature in the name of providing the dream quality of life to the clients. Contrary to conventional building methods, modern architecture holds that sustainability may be attained even while using materials like glass, steel, and concrete.

The Vertical Forest in the heart of Milan_©Photo credit Stefano Boeri Architetti

There might be a third option: pragmatic utopian architecture. “Architecture seems to be entrenched in two equally unfertile fronts—either naively utopian or petrifyingly pragmatic” (Bjarke Ingels, 2019). It is not necessary to suffer to be able to do good, contrary to what some people believe. For example, some people feel we shouldn’t take warm showers because it’s bad for the environment. This quotation highlights the idea of hedonistic sustainability. Buildings that are well-made and sustainable can yet be luxurious and feature all the conveniences. On average, a building stays for 30 to 50 years on the face of the earth, which suggests that architecture leaves a large footprint in the lives of the people and also on earth. Hence, there is a need to design buildings more sensitively, respecting the climate and using materials that adapt to the location’s climate and explore and research alternatives to harmful materials. 

References: 

  1. Schmitt, D., 2015. The Impact of Architecture | Donald Schmitt | TEDxUTSC. [online] Youtube.com. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVsCHMj5_Bo> [Accessed 20 July 2022]. 
  2. Wolfe, T., 1981. From Bauhaus to our house. New York: Picador.
  3. Wishup Blog | Remote Teams | Remote Employees. 2022. 6 reasons why a dedicated workspace is a must when working from home. [online] Available at: <https://www.wishup.co/blog/6-reasons-why-a-dedicated-workspace-is-a-must-when-working-from-home/> [Accessed 20 July 2022].
  4. Ingels, B., 2019. Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/553064/spotlight-bjarke-ingels> [Accessed 21 July 2022].

Images:

  1. Mcleod D, 2015. China 1964-2015. [Photograph]. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/10/china-pearl-river-delta-then-and-now-photographs 
  2. Petras, C, 2011. Bauhaus Building. [Photograph]. https://www.bauhaus-dessau.de/de/bauten/unesco-weltkulturerbe.html 
  3. Magnet.me. Dedicated Workspace. [Photograph]. By Unsplash. https://www.wishup.co/blog/6-reasons-why-a-dedicated-workspace-is-a-must-when-working-from-home/
  4. Stefano Boeri Architetti, 2020. The Vertical Forest in the heart of Milano. [Photograph]. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/cities-sustainability-innovation-global-goals/ 
Author

Prashanti is an Architect from India, who is currently pursuing her master’s in Design Research in Germany and got lucky to study in the Bauhaus Building. She is a potterhead and plays guitar. She feels excited and blessed to be able to share her stories through RTF.

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