The Dream

Let’s begin by taking the readers on a small journey. Keep pondering as you read. Walking into the calm, silent woods, all that could be heard and perceived was the bright chirping of birds, the diverse flora and fauna, the bubbling water bodies, and the rocky mountains. To create more meaning or rather problems, human existence was introduced into the world. Initially, people settled along the streams amidst forests and judiciously utilized resources. They never had hefty desires and dwelled in simple yet comfortable enclosures. They beautifully co-existed with the natural environment, and the human lifestyles happened to go hand-in-hand.

Is it the case today? Architecture has deliberately or accidentally become an interference, a little positive, but mightily on a negative note which is seldom brought to the limelight.      

Architecture: A boon or bane for humans? - Sheet1
Ancient Human Settlement_©De Lumley, M. A

The Reality

An enormous jump into the world of reality is truly alarming! The world has been evolving at a rapid pace and has been under constant transformation. Architecture has not only enhanced human lifestyles but has also altered perspectives. Perspectives were born to change and the objectives and the role of architecture have joined hands in the change. Though the role of architecture is certainly to design for human comforts and user satisfaction, little is it aware that the meaning has been altered at its roots. Whom are we to blame? Is it because of the trending technologies possessed by the creators or the expectations and needs of the users?

The land is a resource that was abundantly available (sadly no longer) and has to be made good use of. But if the objective of architecture is to just create great aesthetical buildings and play a role in producing more of what we call concrete jungles, then it is a bitter truth to agree that architecture is preached in the wrong sense. 

To all the architects, budding ones, and commoners reading this, has this question ever arisen in your minds? When the urban areas are already brimming with concrete structures, why congest them more?

Architecture: A boon or bane for humans? - Sheet2
The Concrete Jungle_©dev.danandholly.com

Human Lifestyles vs Architecture

Traditions, beliefs, culture, outfits, food, etc., are what contribute to shaping human lifestyles. They were not built in a day but gradually passed on from generation to generation. Dating back, human lifestyles were way much simpler back then. They had very little or almost no exposure to the outside world. There never existed something called technology until the industrial revolution took place. Nature always had plenty to offer, and humans acquired what was just needed. The materials for their houses were all sourced from local, regionally available materials. These not only provided comfort but also had a major impact on the surroundings as well, having enhanced the microclimate of the region. What is even more astonishing is that in the absence of complex design knowledge, they found ways to even withstand natural disasters!

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Vernacular Architecture_©LEVS Architecten

Considering the days when kids had the chance to run and play around the lush green pastures, farmers could graze their cattle; people flocked around the banyan tree during their evenings and whatnot. There existed a lot of horizontally spread structures, making more space available and also paved the way for good communication and contact with the habitats nearby. Why can this never be seen? Leave alone cities, not even in villages! Architecture has created a massive bridge between the environment and human lifestyles, worsening it more than what existed.

Where is the world even heading to? People are beginning to prefer aesthetics rather than comfort. Western influences have become a priority as a result of which habitats are enclosed by concrete everywhere, anytime, and then complain of climate change. It’s obvious that people have forgotten vernacular architecture and started running ahead of things that wouldn’t suit them. Well, today, the heads have to be lifted high enough to just look at the structures since the cities are brimming with skyscrapers. An own house to live in has been a dream for many; thanks to precast modular units and modern materials like ETFE, and GRFG panels, people are on the spree of building dream houses, public spaces are being sucked and converted into private pockets, and sadly no longer available for all.

Modern Architecture_©Mohamed Somji

Conclusion

Architecture has never been a threat until recently since it has started to affect not only the design sector but also economically investing more on modern and trendy unsuitable materials of depriving qualities and them, in turn, causing environmental issues, depriving social connections, adaptation of human lifestyles to modern trends, the disappearance of traditional knowledge systems due to the fear of threats and pressure caused by the emerging technology. “Quick results, less time” has, unfortunately, become the motto of people in the present. 

Architecture is not just about the built environment, but also about people, their lifestyles and the surroundings.”

Author

Alamu Priya is a budding conservation architect pursuing her final year of masters from SPA, Vijayawada. An avid reader and writer, she believes that words create a profound impact on people and can be used as a weapon to unveil the magic behind architecture.

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