Architecture has always been a means of representing one’s culture, beliefs, vision, and perspective on life. The relationship between humans and architecture has always been something to contemplate. Spaces have stories to tell that reflect the past, the present, and the future of civilization. But what happens if we completely remove the concept of architecture from the picture of human civilization? Will the world remain the same? Will the ideologies remain the same? Will the beliefs remain the same?
Architecture as a tool.
It is a lazy Sunday morning as you walk in the caves of Kaneri, and as you enter the space, you encounter the majesty of a double-height Buddha sculpture with the surrounding seats carved into the stone, leaving their imprints for hundreds and thousands of years. Even if you have never experienced the room, you can understand how people or monks lived at that time. The space makes you feel the serenity and the sense of satisfaction of your being.
Similarly, imagine yourself entering a hospital.
The dead white walls, the smell of overused disinfectants, the white curtains, the faces of the people lost in sorrow, and the ordinary sick rooms all exude a sense of neediness. Just being there, you understand the misery in the air.
Change or deterioration?
With the changing times and changing demands, man is destined to make certain changes in the environment that lead to changes in the ecosystem. This has led to significant degradation of the prevailing ecosystem.
We humans have always imagined ourselves to be the greatest of our kind, changing and reshaping everything possible according to our needs. This led to the global problems of climate change, pollution, sea level change, etc. Having created all these problems for ourselves, we even try to solve them under the label of sustainable practices by calling ourselves eco-activists, conservatives, etc. This leads to the extinction of more than 60 percent of the species that have lived on the planet since the birth of the earth.
This seems to be a modern problem, but in fact, it is not. It goes back to the Stone Age.
For example, when humans discovered the Australian continent, it was home to more than a thousand giant animal species. But as the human population began to grow, the population of these species suddenly declined. The green cover of the region turned into dry grasslands used for grazing and agriculture.
Even today, with the expansion of various cities, the neighboring suburbs have changed their identity. The migration to these suburbs is so strong that large forested areas or even swamps become residential areas for these migrants.
If architecture makes our lives easy, imagine living in a 3 by 3 meter room with a kitchen, living room space, and laundry room in the same space area. The moment you look outside, you meet your neighbor through a one-meter-wide passage. In this passage there are puddles of drainage water. You live with another bunch of stray animals, with disease-causing insects, etc., with unsanitary common toilets, mountains of garbage, and so on!
These are the prevailing conditions for the people living in the slums all around. When the authorities cannot provide habitable rooms, migrants in most big cities choose to live in such slums. These are the areas where architecture changes its form for protection. Humans tend to wriggle out of any situation in one way or another, and these slums have their own culture and identity that make them unique in their way.
Living in harmony
To the question of whether we will be able to live without architecture, the answer is yes. As you read this text, this is happening all over the world. Where people do not care who gets elected in the next elections, what the US dollar is worth today, and what it is not. These are the tribal people who live in small clusters all over the world. They find shelter amid nature. One day they climb a tree, and the next day they seek shelter in a cave. They live together with other animals and species and above all, they live with them and not above them.
I find it comforting to be alone most of the time. Being in the company, even with the best, soon becomes tiring and grueling. I love to be alone. I have never found a companion so companionable as solitude. (Thoreau, 1854)
Henry David Thoreau made this experiment of living alone in the woods for almost three months to understand himself and the nature around him. If he understands the importance of living alone and can live in a world without architecture, so can we.
The world would be more beautiful if people respected nature and lived together with it and natural creatures. It is not always important to live in a way that shows our principles and values. Sometimes we must put aside differences and come together to live in a better world that would be natural in the womb of Mother Earth.
Harari, Y. N. (2011). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Israel: Dvir Publishing House Ltd. .
Thoreau, H. D. (1854). Walden. England: Maple Classics..