Hominids existed long before architecture. The first known modern humans appeared about 2.5 million years ago. Hominids socialised, played games, made friends, and fought for dominance in the same way that chimps, baboons, and elephants do today. They shared a common existence and were not in any way unique. Prehistoric humans had no effect on the ecosystem, nor did gorillas, fireflies, or any other animal. They had no idea their descendants would one day be able to walk on the moon or create literary works. Prehistoric humans relied on the environment to protect them from the elements before learning how to build shelters. Tool use has been interpreted as a sign of intelligence, and it has been proposed that tool use may have stimulated certain aspects of human evolution, particularly the continued expansion of the human brain. (Yuval Noah Harari, 2019)

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A diorama at the Nairobi National Museum portrays early hominins processing game with tools. But which of our ancient ancestors was the first to butcher animals? Ninara/_ ©Wikimedia commons

Emergence of shelters

Hominids had to learn to defend themselves against the sun’s scorching rays, strong winds, freezing temperatures, and other extreme weather conditions. People gradually began to construct shelters that met their specific needs and requirements. The earliest forms of shelter were provided by trees. For over 2 million years, human neural networks have been expanding and driving evolution in order to solve problems with clothing, fire, and protection. The cave was a natural haven at the time. More shapes and forms were gradually added to these frames after man discovered the fundamental tools required to construct larger structures. As a result of their interactions with the environment, humans have evolved over time. The rate of invention has increased. People experimented with different building materials; craftsmanship improved; various groups sought out their own cultural identities; and building techniques were developed. Stone would be used to construct the first man-made shelter. Man gradually learned to make simple tools that would allow them to build better structures, and these structures later evolved in shape and form. The earliest evidence of a hominin shelter building dates back approximately 400,000 years and is currently located in France.

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A small group of Mesolithic hunters have built a shelter in open and well grazed woodland, They will eat and rest before bringing their catches back to the main settlement by Dominic Andrews / Ancient People_©Geekazoid 2.0.

In the twentieth century, architectural and planning paradigms were dominated by technological advances and the availability of building materials. For centuries, architecture has represented the evolution of people’s social and cultural lives as a combination of an idea and a technique. It provides a balance that meets human needs while also ensuring survival. It has a significant impact on how an individual develops through social and environmental planning. As people began to group their homes into larger communities, they realised they didn’t have to be completely self-sufficient. They would have to produce their own wheat and vegetables, sew garments, and do whatever else they could to make a livelihood since they couldn’t create clay pots or keep goats. These public spaces allowed crowds to gather for religious ceremonies, public gatherings, and more. Since these rooms were not thought to be secure in ancient times, the wealthy did not want to take the chance of keeping their valuables there. Because the wealthy kept their money in the basements of their local temples, the slightly more secure temples doubled as both banks and places of worship. In addition to providing security, the architect’s design of the area also makes people feel emotionally and mentally satisfied. A place is defined by its architecture, which also gives it function, defines its meaning, and builds cities and communities. Alter the surroundings, the people, and their attitudes. It organises space, sanctifies locations, creates the framework of reality, and closes or opens structures. Buildings help us see the world. It might be both destructive and helpful. It draws lines separating public and private space. It is the height of human innovation, as shown by the numerous modern structures. The boundaries of architecture are no longer clearly defined.

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Wellbeing in the built environment – introduction_ ©Greenspec

Architecture is now recognised as a type of art that results from the application of human intelligence solely to human lifestyles. Architecture is essential for new technological developments and societal demands. Architecture has the unique ability to last for centuries in the form of physical structures such as buildings. Humans (a living species) create architecture! The most successful architecture is more than just four walls or buildings; looking back in history, the most significant architecture is the buildings or environments that have done much more in many ways. (Lyu, 2019).

The human need to seek refuge and express that experience gave rise to architecture. Architecture can be considered an applied art form that creates and divides space while meeting societal expectations and providing comfort and security for a living. People used to live in harsh climates before heating and air conditioning. It was made more bearable by good design. Stepwells were used to create basement air conditioning in ancient India. Pools of water beneath buildings cooled the structures above via evaporation, resulting in a much milder microclimate inside the building, even on the hottest days. In ancient Persia, “windcatcher” towers ventilated buildings. The built environment has significant social as well as physical consequences. Concerns about the built environment can be found in anthropological literature dating back to the early nineteenth century in studies of hominids and cultural history; for example, inaccessible or non-existent sidewalks and bicycle or walking paths contribute to sedentary habits. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer are all the result of these habits.

Imagine A World Without Architecture/_  ©Youtube

Buildings meet the most fundamental human needs for safety and security, but architecture also has an emotional impact on everyone involved. Man is as incomplete without architecture as a deserted room is without humanity.


  1. Books

Citations for books with one author: Sapiens 

Yuval Noah Harari (2019). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Random House Uk.

  1. Articles

Citations for Print Journals:

Lyu, F. (2019). Architecture as spatial storytelling: Mediating human knowledge of the world, humans and architecture. Frontiers of Architectural Research. doi:10.1016/j.foar.2019.05.002.

  1. Online sources

Citations for websites: 

  1. Chrysikou, E. (2018). Why we need new architectural and design paradigms to meet the needs of vulnerable people. Palgrave Communications, 4(1). doi:10.1057/s41599-018-0171-z.
  2. Thought Economics. (2015). The Role of Architecture in Humanity’s Story. [online] Available at: https://thoughteconomics.com/the-role-of-architecture-in-humanitys-story/.
  3. RTF | Rethinking The Future. (2022). Human Existence: Within Architecture or Without Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/narratives/a7514-human-existence-within-architecture-or-without-architecture/#:~:text=Visualizing%20our%20planet%20without%20architecture [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].
  4. Images/visual mediums

Citations for images/photographs – Print or Online:

  1. Ninara (2015). A diorama at the Nairobi National Museum portrays early hominins processing game with tools. But which of our ancient ancestors was the first to butcher animals? [Wikimedia commons] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prehistory_at_Nairobi_National_Museum.jpg Nairobi National Museum. Prehistory.
  2. Andrews, D. (n.d.). A small group of Mesolithic hunters have built a shelter in well grazed open woodland, They will eat and rest before taking their catches back to the main settlement. [Pinterest] Available at: http://www.starcarr.com/schools-assets/skills-log/Hunting_camp.jpg https://www.pinterest.com/geekazoid2/.
  3. ‌Green spec (n.d.). Available at: https://www.greenspec.co.uk/building-design/well-being-environment-introduction.
  4. ‌SCI-Arc (2017). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c8FtVMxdaE.
  5. Other source types
  6. www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Imagine A World Without Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c8FtVMxdaE.
  7. Shrestha, P. (2020). Human Centered Architecture. [online] Cue Studio. Available at: https://medium.com/cue-studio/human-centered-architecture-d20150eee6a0 [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].
  8. ‌www.mentalfloss.com. (2017). 7 Ingenious Ways Architecture Helped Humans Thrive. [online] Available at: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/94181/7-ingenious-ways-architecture-helped-humans-thrive.
  9. www.greenspec.co.uk. (n.d.). GreenSpec: Wellbeing in the Built Environment: Introduction. [online] Available at: https://www.greenspec.co.uk/building-design/well-being-environment-introduction/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2022].

Komal is an aspiring environmental enthusiast with a masters degree in environmental architecture and is engaged towards achieving a net zero society globally, by profession. She is currently working towards a paradigm shift in the construction industry by exploring possible uses of rice straw as a building material and working as a volunteer for change. She believes writing architectural content aids in the development of the mental skills required for creative thinking. Furthermore, she would like to make this world a better place to live in.

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