A look at the painting invokes a varied range of emotions in the viewer. The perceiver finds the colours and shapes intriguing. As they move through the painting, they try to comprehend the theme and appreciate how accurately the artist has captured the scene. Yet the painting is much more than its shapes, colours, and theme, as seen from an artist’s perspective. For an artist, every painting is the culmination of a long thought process. There are so many principles governing a painting. The artist works through various principles, namely, elements of art, the rules of composition, an appropriate medium of colour, and so on. Every building is like a painting. Architecture is very synonymous with art. Architecture is a much more complex endeavour than artwork. No wonder a non-architect perceives architecture very differently from an architect whose mind is trained to deal with the details of everything and anything. This article describes my journey from layman to architect, undergoing a paradigm shift in the way we perceive spaces that many of us can relate to.

A Common Man’s Perspective of Architecture

Since childhood, I have always had this fascination with looking at tall buildings and structures and wondering how they came to be into existence. My curiosity as a child led me to think of buildings as a piece of art or engineering. However, our brains are wired to associate spaces with the activities that take place in that particular space, the people we encounter, and our experiences, good or bad, which in turn creates a memory of the place. Never do we understand the thought process that went behind building these spaces, the materials and technology behind the construction, and appreciate the spatial qualities of a space.

An architect’s journey from the unknown to the known - SHeet1
Creating memories of places based on our experiences in that place_©httpsin.pinterest.compin36873290689427950

Into The World of Architecture

The way we viewed things changed dramatically once we entered college. It is well known that the subjects in an architectural curriculum are designed to motivate a new way of thinking and give a fresh perspective on things. As students, we are exposed to the basic principles of design, which encourages the young creative minds to fragment the objects into various elements and then see how they are organized to create a sense of balance and harmony. In the process of designing our first spatial design project, we were strategically introduced to concepts such as anthropometry and space standards, which most of us never knew existed before attending graduate school. With time, we were gradually introduced to various subjects, such as methods of construction, and services, which helped us understand that buildings are not simply 3D objects but are also much more than that. As rightly said by Le Corbusier, “A house is a machine for living“. 

An architect’s journey from the unknown to the known - SHeet2
Learning the basic principles of design – Visualizing the use of Golden ratio in Taj Mahal_©Shashidhar S Unsplash

After our brains have been trained to observe things around us differently, we subconsciously begin to view our surroundings from a much different perspective than most of our non-architect peers. My realization that my perspective towards our surroundings has changed came all at once when I excitedly told my non-architect friends about my case study visit to the lavish toilet block in one of the famous theatres in the city, only to find them disinterested. They weren’t enthralled by the idea of going on a toilet tour and found it very weird.

As the complexity of the design increases, we understand that the buildings are not to be seen in isolation but are considered as a part of a larger whole. That’s when we begin to visualize the context, site, and the different scales of architecture. This gives us the opportunity to understand how the buildings fit into the city and to see how the characteristics of the city ultimately influence the design of the building. In addition to making us think about form and shape, it has also helped us to appreciate spaces in terms of their cultural and social values and see through the unspoken history of places. By the time we complete the course, we become much more aware of how to design spaces, taking into account the local culture of the people, the climate of the place, and giving utmost importance to the user’s experience.

An architect’s journey from the unknown to the known - SHeet3
Visualizing the history of places from an architects point of view_©www.naturalitalytours.com

The Real Change in Perspective – The Subconscious Mind of An Architect  

Along with opening our eyes to architectural spaces, architectural education has opened our eyes to human values. It is likely that many of us have learned about the growth of slums and suddenly developed a keen interest in understanding their lifestyle and socioeconomic conditions. Rather than conforming to generic ideologies around slums, we would have shown our interest in redevelopment projects to make their regions better. We learn to value people and view these forbidden communities in a different light.

The way we get evaluated for our design through a dialogue between the students and the teachers helps us build a critique within ourselves. Knowingly or unknowingly, we develop a sense of how to differentiate between a good and bad design. We inherently start evaluating the architectural spaces through the lens of a critic. And try to make sense of our surroundings. The evaluation doesn’t end with the real world. This extends beyond the realms of real life into the movies we watch. We are always looking for meaning in the virtual spaces and trying to comprehend the context of the story from different perspectives. Films are no longer just considered a mere form of entertainment. There is a subconscious mind that constantly evaluates the art direction and visualizes the story from an architectural perspective. In the course of studying architecture, we eventually become better critical thinkers.

An architect’s journey from the unknown to the known - SHeet4
Connecting with the spaces in movies – Theodore’s Office in the movie Her_©Her (2013)[Film]


The journey of an architect is a unique experience where we not only learn the technical intricacies of architecture but also radically change the way we think and perceive things around us. Through formal architectural education, we transform ourselves from those who make memories of places into architects who can visualize and appreciate spaces in their true sense. As architects, we no longer enjoy space as such, but we experience spaces as an amalgamation of various factors such as context, socio-cultural values, form, and, above all, the experience they offer to the user.


Image  1: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/36873290689427950/

Image  2: Shashidhar S/ Unsplash

Image  3: www.naturalitalytours.com/blog/2016/11/14/ancient-roman-forum

Image  4: Her (2013). [Film]. Directed by Spike Jonze. U.S: Annapurna Pictures.