The world went dark all of a sudden. As her eyes opened, a man sat there softly gazing at her; his eyes had worn down over the years. He could be around seventy. “Where am I” she groaned, rubbing her eyes. The man dragged his steel chair across the concrete floor of his house and sat closer to the girl. “What is your name,” the man asked in a relatively soft voice. Alexandria, but you can call me Alex, as her mind still races through a hundred questions, questions that beg to be answered. Bob just Bob said as he gently smiled at her, which looked more comforting than what that sounded. Where am I, what is this place, and why does everything look the same? Bob gently held her shoulder and guided her towards a balcony. Alex gasped as she looked around; he said softly this is where you are.
As the evening sun slowly touched the horizon, Alex spent the entire day understanding what was happening with Bob. Even though she was in a strange place her mind was at least not confused and understood what had happened in a world where the moment architecture many eons ago failed to occur. Humankind had progressed along in a very different course in the absence of architecture. Buildings from eons ago never evolved and remained the same. Simply existing to put shelter over man’s head. As Paul Goldberger said, architecture is the extension of man through a building; his taste, liking, favorite color, etc, are expressed. All of this failed to occur due to the absence of architecture. People’s buildings were never perceived as anything more than a shelter. They served their only purely utilitarian purposes. The absence of architecture had created a butterfly effect across humanity’s journey, affecting far more than one could have imagined.
As Alex glanced out of the balcony, the direct implications of the absence of architecture were visible, all buildings looked the same, and their streets were barren, which made sense because, over the years, architecture evolved and granted streets their socializing power which never happened here. This also meant that there were no landmarks, no big arenas, and no colosseum. The Greeks and Romans were merely a civilization that existed once upon a time, their only proof being literary notes left behind by them. As Paul Goldberger said architecture is a conversation between different eras of human history, each bouncing ideas off of the other. Mistakes are committed and avoided, allowing for evolution to slowly but steadily guide the world. Not this world, though; that conversation never happened here. Mistakes were made but never learned, which meant mistakes did not even play a role in this dystopian world. Evolution was nothing but a theory that was never proven to be true.
The longer Alex pondered on this topic, the deeper the problems or differences seemed to run. The implications were cascading in effect. Since architecture is nothing but an expression of oneself. The lack of architecture over the centuries meant humans never developed any expression. Cultures were never born, styles were never created, and art was never even a thing in this world. This collectively led to religions not having differentiation factors; architecture speaks more about religion than a flag, which is pure symbolism. For example, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate bridge, and the Taj Mahal are icons of their respective cultures. Memorials speak to the people serving as a grim reminder. Churches, Mosques, and Temples are all architectural entities of their specific culture. People have never had any experiences they could call noteworthy since architecture defines a space that makes a pleasant space or a dull space. Over time a particular space, through its architecture, tends to develop a sense of freedom when we look; a park is an example of what emotions it strikes in people; this can be in stark difference to the feelings invoked in a person by a graveyard or a crematorium.
All spaces were the same, and this led to further complications. As Vitruvius once said, “Architecture was in effect the beginning of civilization and all other arts and fields of study connected are to it and descended from it” humankind had evolved eons without the creative part of their brain being stimulated, as a natural adaptation; this part of their brain slowly stopped existing which affected all other creative fields and gradually all sense of creativity was wiped from this world. When a group of people remember the same thing and imagine it to be the same way is called collective memory, which was absent here. Collective memory forms a bond between people helping them to connect and bond with one another.
People now live in a world wholly mundane and devoid of creativity, culture, and history, a world where the word art did not even exist in their dictionary. The soul is what differentiates one individual from another person who had gone extinct around the same time people lost their creativity. Uniqueness, individuality, character, and demeanor ceased to exist, creating humankind. Which could very well be mistaken for a collection of robots with no purpose, just existing.
As it was time for Alex to leave, she shook Bob’s hand and showed her the door. As she left the house, busy in thought, she bumped into another older person with a striking similarity to Bob; she apologized to him and introduced herself, but her skin crawled when she heard him say his name Bob just Bob. She woke up in shock, realizing it was all just a dream and continued to take down notes in class.
- Goldberger, Paul. 2011. Why Architecture Matters. New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press.
- Hearn, M.F. (2003). Ideas that shaped buildings. Cambridge (Mass.): Mit Press.