Throughout history, architectural movements are subjected to varying values and perceptions. Perceptions are instilled with the outcomes of the events. Perceptions which in turn shape the surrounding society. Not so long ago In an interview by Tholl (2014), Lord Norman Foster’s response to the question, “Is architecture the visual representation of society? To which Norman replied, 

“Architecture is an expression of values – the way we build reflects how we live. This is why vernacular traditions and the historical layers of a city are so fascinating, as every era produces its vocabulary. Sometimes we have to explore the past to find inspiration for the future. At its most noble, architecture embodies our civic values.”

To an amateur, architecture is perceived as an amalgamation of comfort and aesthetics. More focused on the superficial factors, Little did he know the late history of the same.

While, on the other hand, professional architecture is a context-oriented outcome. Which sometimes acts to suppress or enhance the surroundings. Even the smallest of details has a historic value engraved deeper into the roots of history.

Spirits Of Time

The architecture itself is a way of living, the principles of which make it harder for you to neglect the details and make one want to explore between spaces. It’s not about a day or two, it’s about the journey to which it was carved, It’s about years of art reforms and evolution. each of which has a unique identity and concepts of its own. Every architecture style adds a distinct character to the nature of space. It’s similar to defining the melancholy of the space, and identity to be perceived by many. Strolling back to the book of time, architecture laid its foundation as a basic building block for habitat and to instill a sense of security. The three basic elements of firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty) were laid emphasis.

 Later, it evolved with the complexities of life and transformed into ambiguity, legibility, and control. 

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Louis Sullivan building_©
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Louis Sullivan building_©

The above states an example of the change in perspective of architecture. Louis Sullivan was the most influential architect of the Chicago School. His buildings, like a classical column, had a base or several stories, which demarcated the shift from art-oriented to more functional-oriented buildings. This architectural style is a fine example of how factors like control and legibility of the buildings started to be questioned and the solution was in turn an architectural marvel.

Functional And Structural Honesty

Architecture has always emphasized what makes one space feel more lively than the other, Why do some spaces resonate more with an individual? Each building has these components, the dead and the alive. The dead load is mainly the structural load and the alive aspect is deeply rooted in the very concept of space. Spaces create an ambiance that is above the perception of an individual, The kind of material used regulates the major part.

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Benesse House_©Photo: Benesse House Oval – 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0

The above is a powerful example of how materials can change the serenity of the space, and how just a look at these spaces instills a sense of calm in the perceiver’s mind. Through this Tadao Ando wanted to create a space where one can reflect, retaliate and relate to nature. 

Proportions Of Built And Unbuilt

The quality of a space is determined by its ability to access freedom. The freedom could be access to socialize, protest, create and explore. These small pocket spaces play a major role in balancing the wellness of being. These spaces give a person to reflect on themselves and relate to their surroundings. With the possible urban setup, these spaces are the closest to what one 

can call natural and organic environments. Public spaces are subjected to various needs and as simple as they look their functioning and ability to cater is getting complicated with each day. Through the course of Urbanisation, the spaces have been subjected to great development and complexities. 

“It’s very important there’s public life in public spaces. That means people from all walks of life will naturally meet in the streets, squares, and parks of the city. So you can see what society you belong to. You can see your fellow citizens eye to eye going about daily life.”  said Jan Gehl in a recent interview on The environment show,

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Gehl Studio_©2017 City of Somerville Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development.

The Ineffable Space

Architecture cannot be sacred but it can make one feel the sense of sacredness through the essence of space. Architecture is an interpreter of sacredness and it has the power to deliver it to mankind. Le Corbusier once claimed ‘I am the inventor of the phrase “ineffable space”, which is a reality that I discovered as I went on. When work reaches a maximum of intensity, when it has the best proportions and has been made with the best quality of execution, when it has reached perfection … when this happens these places start to radiate.’   

Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France_©Walti Goehner / Pixabay

Architecture is ever-evolving and couldn’t be contained in a single set of books. That’s what makes it the most evolved and uncertain part of science. The nature of which cannot be certified. As architecture is a very personal affair, it has branched out to cater to multiple disciples of regions and segments of understanding. Architecture is the essence of safety, a sense of belongingness, and beyond conventional experiences. The subjectivity of the design is put up for test when the users start to reciprocate to the building, at that very moment the building gets an obscure trail of perceptions.


The Relationship Between Architecture And Human Well-Being

How does architecture affect the society?

Designing for change: The poetic potential of responsive architecture

(Meagher, M. (2015). Designing for change: The poetic potential of responsive architecture. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 4(2), pp.159–165. doi:10.1016/j.foar.2015.03.002.)

Bianco, “Architecture, Values, and Perception: Between Rhetoric and Reality”

“Architecture, Values and Perception: Between Rhetoric and Reality.” Frontiers of Architectural Research, vol. 7, no. 1, Mar. 2018, pp. 92–99,, 10.1016/j.foar.2017.11.003.


Jasmeen kaur is best described as an inquisitive individual, who perceives architecture as an amalgamation of tangible and intangible aspects. The architecture, as a whole, is just like a riddle, with its segments lost in the perceptions of the classical and the contemporary era.