Every building has a story that is gradually woven by the hands of a visionary, an artist, a technician, and a public servant. A blend of these individuals is what we call an Architect. However, these stories are often hidden from the eyes of the observer. A passer-by might admire the overall look of a building but never realize the profound sense of creation with which it was built. Looking at the spaces around us from an architect’s perspective can enlighten the observer’s perception regarding the intricacies that went into making it.

Wayne Dyer, an American author, once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” A person’s notion of reality is limited by the attributes they are able to perceive. Becoming an architect is like removing a pair of glasses that filtered the history, concepts, and motivations that remain true in making space, be it a house, a skyscraper, a public space, or a community area. The influence of architecture is vast on our communities and lifestyles. But there are a lot of aspects that influence architecture that an architect can leverage to affect the user’s experiences.

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Culture

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When most people think of architecture, they think of the physical buildings and structures that make up our built environment. However, architecture is much more than that; it reflects the culture and values of the society in which it was created. For example, take a look at two very different types of architecture – the skyscrapers of New York City and the temples of Angkor Wat. Both are impressive in their own right, but they couldn’t be more different in terms of their style and meaning. The skyscrapers of New York City symbolize the city’s power and wealth. They’re tall and imposing, and they stand out against the skyline. They’re a physical embodiment of the American dream. In contrast, the temples of Angkor Wat are a symbol of the Khmer Empire’s religious and spiritual beliefs. They’re intricate and detailed and were built to honor the gods. Every architectural style reflects the values of the culture in which it was created.

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Angkor Wat temples_©Ko Hon Chiu Vincent.jpg

Art

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Cubism art called Three Musicians_©Pablo Picasso.jpg

Throughout history, artists have been at the forefront of innovation, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and inspiring architects to do the same. One of the most famous examples is the relationship between the artist Pablo Picasso and the architect Le Corbusier. In the early 1920s, Picasso was experimenting with Cubism, a new painting style that deviated from traditional perspective and representation. This unique style of art captivated Le Corbusier, and he began to incorporate Cubist elements into his own architectural designs. In today’s context, architects are using art to change the perception of space, create new ways of looking at familiar environments, and challenge traditional ideas about how buildings should look. Technology-influenced themes like parametric and geodesic patterns are also emerging in art, which may translate into revolutionary architecture. Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan and Grimshaw’s The Eden Project in Cornwall, UK are notable examples of using cutting-edge technology to create iconic sculpture-like forms. 

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Geodesic design of The Eden Project_©Grimshaw Architects.jpg

Climate 

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Climate change_©https://giving.columbia.edu/how-can-architecture-respond-climate-change.jpg

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. As architects, we are responsible for considering our designs’ impact on the environment. This means taking into account factors like energy efficiency, water conservation, and material selection. In some cases, this might mean rethinking traditional design approaches. We need to design buildings that are resilient to the effects of climate change, which can help mitigate its impact. 

For example, using passive solar design principles minimizes the need for artificial lighting and heating/cooling. Or designing buildings with green roofs to help mitigate the urban heat island effect. In recent years, there’s been a greater focus on sustainable architecture, which considers the need to minimize the built environment’s impact on the natural world. This includes using environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials and designing buildings that can adapt to changing weather patterns and other environmental factors.

Inclusivity

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Public spaces are a vital part of any community. They serve as a gathering place for people to socialize and relax. However, not all public spaces are created equal. Some are more welcoming and inclusive than others. Inclusive architecture is about creating spaces that are safe and easy to navigate for everyone, regardless of their ability or disability. It is about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the built environment. Buildings, for example, can be designed with ramps and lifts to make them accessible to people in wheelchairs. Braille can also be used on signage to assist the blind or people with low vision. Braille can also be used on signage to help people who are blind or have low vision. In an increasingly divided world, inclusive public spaces are more important than ever. They offer a chance for people from all walks of life to come together and connect. By creating places that are open and inviting to all, we can help to build stronger, more cohesive communities.

As a result of being exposed to these vantage points, architects gain a better understanding of architectural concepts. For many, architecture is something they encounter on a daily basis without giving it much thought. People may be unaware of its impact until they come across a structure that makes them stop and think. That’s when people realize that architecture has the absolute power to steer perspective. A well-designed building, whether a grand cathedral or a humble cottage, can transport us to another place and time and help us see the world in a new light.

Author

Muktika is an Architect with a strong inclination towards humanitarian architecture. Her goal is to use her skills to uplift lives and strengthen communities. She is an avid reader and traveler with a knack for architectural philosophy.

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