How does one define being a human being?

One can see a human being as a unique meeting of tangibles and intangibles, as a play between knowledge, measurement, and intuition, which is unmeasurable, between the brain and the spirit. Because of this meeting in us as human beings, the emergence of architecture as a human expression is vital because we live to express ourselves.

Desire and need

Buildings are fundamental. They have an elementary reason to exist – shelter. But shelter goes beyond survival. Like the burrow, buildings are a temporary refuge. Like the hive, buildings engage beyond shelter. Like the beaver’s dam, our buildings knowingly influence the environment.

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Structure of honey bee hive_©Honey Bees /

Burrows, hives, nests, and anthills are models of instinct, not design, despite their magnificent beauty. Humanity is perceptible from all other life on earth because, for us, instinct is inadequate.

Architecture and need must also serve desire- the desire of the building to be what it wants to be and the desire of the human being for self-expression.

But like nearly every human act, the value of architecture goes beyond the sequel and describes our motivations. The distinction between aftermath and motivation exists in the human eye and mind.

Architecture – A Human Expression

Architecture is the manifestation of our experience. It is a model of our consciousness, the fitting of ourselves between the earth and the sky, the patterns in which one relates to another, and the physical presence of our intuitions. An example of a monolithic rock-cut Kailash temple at Ellora –scooped down to create a chariot-shaped temple– which the Hindus thought as their world to express devotion.

Instead, in architecture, we find a model of underpinning principles that govern the world, the forces that give it shape, and the space and time for its action.

Architecture exists, but it has no presence. Work is done in the urging sounds of industry, and when the dust settles, the rock-cut temple architecture echoes the silence of existence.

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Kailasanatha temple in Ellora_©

Storytelling through architecture.

Throughout time, people have used visual bias to capture stories. The erected terrain can capture a place’s history and tell that story through space. Architecture forms a visual, spatial link between the past, present, and future, getting the point in the timeline of a place and culture.

Architecture as the Venue of Narratives

As people travel and learn, they bring bits back with them, enforcing what they liked into their lives, which reflects in the structures, too. Merely by looking at the architecture of a building, one can infer if it was originally designed for a purpose it’s no longer used for, or when it was erected and what was treasured for the architecture of the time and place.

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Theater of Delphi_ ©Filippos Marinakis/CC-BY-SA-4.0

In Athens, a theatre was associated with the frenzied rituals in honour of Dionysus and had to be large enough to include a circular or semi-circular stage, … for the chorus and the dancing involved in the rituals, an altar for the libations with which performances commenced … It was here that Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes presented their plays, laying down the pattern for Western drama and theatre.

With an architectural setting and spatial spectacle, Greek theatres were venues for characters to perform classical plays and to convey theatrical narratives. This sort of architecture is not a subject element for generating narrative discourse, but a place for providing spatial capacity for the performer to deliver narratives, demonstrating collective memories and characteristics through spatial and material languages.

The above-mentioned illustration demonstrates the role of architectural spaces in presenting its cultural narratives. Architectural space itself functions as background for holding religious ceremonies or rituals on the one hand, and acts as foreground for demonstrating religious narratives because of its figurative paintings (sculptures) and spatial composition on the other.

The armature of any specific culture reflects the culture itself and influences it, as human behaviour is affected by anything a person is exposed to.

Chinese armature is known for low-rise structures and exercising wooden posts and beams. An extensive set of scared metaphors and meanings are expressed through ornamentation and the specific use of colours. Yellow roof tiles were reserved for royalty, red curved ceramic tiles on the roof and painted woodwork display the luckiest colour, wherein green colour for roof tiles represents wealth, growth, and harmony.

Forbidden city_©Shutterstock/Hung Chung Chih

Due to the specific rituals and symbolic meaning, the spaces are not independent of their plots and characters for expressing the stories. Every culture has different histories and designs for analogous purposes grounded on their beliefs, values, surroundings, and the materials available to them.

Architecture informs about cultures, and architecture tells a story.


  • Louis kahn – Light and silence
  •  Athens Journal of Architecture  Volume 1, Issue 2
  • Architecture Is Human – Duo Dickinson, FAIA architect
  •  How Architecture Affects Human Behavior, BGW architects

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