“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvellous order for maintaining the streets’ safety and the city’s freedom. It is a complex order. Its essence is the intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change. Although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations.”  

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Architectural Perspective Pancrazi, A.D. (2021) https://www.instagram.com/pancrazi/?hl=en. _© https://www.instagram.com/p/CLZjOL-LMZZ/?hl=en.

Jacobs, J. (1961) The death and Life of Great American cities. New York: Random House. 

People spend a large amount of their time in designed & built forms. It is an indispensable fact that buildings & built space shape people, who they become and their ideas. There is plenty of research and studies accounting for the same. Historically, architecture is the practice and study of building or designing spaces and the arrangement of spaces. Some of its influences are observed immediately, while some are over time and more long-lasting. It is safe to say. Therefore, architecture shapes our perspective. 

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Architecture of People Pancrazi, A.D. (2021) https://www.instagram.com/pancrazi/?hl=en. _©https://www.instagram.com/p/BbPVGcPlBLJ/?hl=en.

As consumers of Architecture

As a resident, onlooker, traveller, and thinker, one usually is the consumer of architecture. Not only are these consumers the largest in number in the pool, but also very often partake as patrons. The built environment influences this group of people the most and to the highest degree. One’s mood, well-being and brain can be significantly influenced by what surrounds him/her. Many theorists, psychologists, critics, and neurologists have pointed to the importance of architecture & architects in the mental well-being of urban residents. Many have questioned the role of architecture in healing, in its help in an artist’s creative process, and the like. 

One such simple and everyday case is – urban design and gender. Again, as seen in countless literature, the role the urban design of a metropolis plays in making it “safe” for women, females, and others is often underplayed. Safe here is an abstract noun, a feeling. Madhavi Desai talks in her recent book about making spaces in the urban sphere “safe” for women. In a nutshell, a woman walking through a bustling bazaar would feel far more comfortable than one walking through a deserted road with gated communities on both sides. It is the architecture & planning of the city that invoke this feeling of comfort and discomfort. This perception of the city being uncomfortable or safe is – how architecture shapes one’s ideas and conscience.

As students of Architecture 

The studio of an academician or architecture school is a grove for all or any kind of thought reshaping. Not only are they taught holistically, but they are also trained to look holistically. Architecture schools look to shape one’s conscience and perspective way before they are taught to put together brick and mortar. Garnering multiple perspectives through interactions across disciplines is the essence of architecture and architectural education. It is what shapes one’s perspective at the student level. Let’s take the example of Rahul Mehrotra’s studio at a renowned design school. Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity. One would ask what an Indian mythological public gathering has to offer to design students. In this case, it forced the students to revisit their notions of economical and low-impact urban design. While many cases may seem non-architectural, it has spatial effects, implications, and repercussions. 

Designers are taught to take information and make it legible using tools of their discipline. In the case of the Kumbh, multiple challenges arose. The multifaceted nature of these, and their study, evolved into producing a cohesive understanding of the city and the festival. Thus architecture shapes the perspectives of students and, thereby itself. 

How Architecture Can Change Perspective - Sheet3
Architectural Influence on Architecture Pancrazi, A.D. (2021) https://www.instagram.com/pancrazi/?hl=en. _©https://www.instagram.com/p/BgWRwIRActC/?hl=en.

As Practitioners of Architecture

Designers and architects are always required to think. Think of solutions, think of responses, and think for the people they are designing for. New and old practices have shaped and reshaped their ideas and perspectives, primarily through their own built forms and spaces. As one’s architecture becomes synonymous with how the world sees them, their perspectives and views start to modify and evolve. The natural interaction of architects with clients, service providers, consultants etc., from varied walks of life shapes their perspective primarily towards the profession. 

Indeed, the importance of architecture goes beyond visuals and skyscrapers. Design is impactful, biologically and psychologically. As practitioners, learners or consumers of architecture, people are constantly being imprinted on through their participation in the larger built environment around them. It has cognitive, behavioural and social influences. It only stresses the need for meaningful spaces, a design which does not override the people it is for.