“The architectural mirror that returns our gaze and doubles the world is an enigmatic and frightening device.” – Juhani Pallasama
The art of collecting experiences is a peculiar one. It uncannily varies for every observer and results in unique learnings and inimitable perspectives for all. However, an architect is an observer who scavenges through the dioramas of daily life with a fine-tooth comb and a magnifying glass. For architects, the world is in a continuous motion of restoration, where they perceive the secrets of the streets, and then their thoughts and observations reflect inventions and interventions.
Featured in the Yellow Korner, architect and photographer Laurent Dequick leads his audience in interpreting the play of light, unique viewpoints, concealed structural features, and quirky details in monuments.
Analysed by the architect, “The cathedral was built according to the proportions of the golden ratio. If you divide the height of the façade by its width, you roughly obtain the golden ratio.”
In a wide world, open for observation, buildings are a cornerstone to the evolution of mankind. Man-made environments surrounded by Nature provide us with a safe environment to carry out our activities. However, more than sheltering sanctuaries, they are the spatial manifestations of humanity’s history in politics, economics, and culture. Subsequently, they become a tangible mode of visual storytelling. As it comes to a full circle, architects yet again become the bards of the built environments. Their life study itself is a navigation in the arts and building technology to develop efficient built environments.
Panoply in Public Spaces.
“The city, throughout the history of mankind, has been the meeting place for people. Much of the culture of mankind has happened in the public space. Public space is a very important aspect of a good and well-functioning city.” – Jan Gehl
In the urban landscape, public spaces are strewn with pathways, roads, green patches, common areas, etc. They are the beginning and end of the circle of social, economic, and cultural engagements. Hence, the community’s collective history stems from the appearance, activities, and day-to-day adaptation of public space.
For the dwellers and city folk, the public realm serves as an arena for an array of activities, such as the movement of goods and people, processions of festivities, community life, etc. The circulation of residents through the community is connected to many of the structural elements of the built landscape that affected a person’s feeling of community.
Their involvement lies in individual or collective uses of the space presented to them. Whereas for architects, the scene unfolds into a contoured narrative, depicting the spatial relationships, circulation, the materiality of form-void, etc. Then they proceed with the human dimension of public spaces and follow it with the sociability, uses and activities, access and linkages, comfort, and image.
In the 21st century, the urban landscape is dominated by a shimmering skyscraper skyline. The tall, taller and tallest become captivating landmarks of the city and are perceived as the symbols of economic emergence. For a regular observer, the experience of stepping out into a complex dotted by buildings touching the sky might be alluring. However, a more three-dimensional approach, through the eyes of an architect, may lead to questioning the identity and imposition of these skyscrapers in the urban fabric. The questions may pertain to the respective heights, street-level interaction, footprint, materials, implications towards the public realm, and the lifestyle within its bubble.
In his article ‘Skyscrapers from A to Z’, Michael Sorkin wrote “Where else but the United States could the skyscraper happen? Where else concatenate avarice, ambition, bureaucracy, speculation, underdevelopment, technology, and the waiting grid?”
Circling back to Communities
Communities are different in terms of their constituents, roles, and applications. They often centre on relationships with family, friends, and networks. Depending, upon their social, economic, geographic, and political nature, community-driven spaces also vary. Urban communities are growing in size and volume, whereas rural communities still hold onto their age-old traditions. As a professional, the architect becomes responsible for upholding and enhancing the required quality in various built environments, by being considerate to the broader context and generating enduring change. Collaborating with the users and clients, architects can question and analyse, the residents as experts in their own surroundings and their needs (Jeremy Till’s idea of the expert citizen). It is an added dimension to an individual’s vision, the art of empowering the Earth and its inhabitants.
Through the wide expanse of their skills, architects are positioned at a precise intersection of human society and nature. By definition and purpose, architecture is already the culmination of several stakeholders, such as architects, clients, developers, and local governments. More than explicitly designing newly built spaces, they can intervene through repositioning and restoration to improve lives. The lens their education and experience afford them is for the betterment of built and unbuilt environments.
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