Architecture is a dynamic term that takes up several meanings in various contexts. Simply put, architecture can mean the physical manifestation of creative thinking facilitated by technical knowledge. It can originate as a reflection of a need satiated by a unique design approach.
The Very Beginning of Architecture
Humans have an instinctive need to feel safe and protected. As humans are not biologically designed to protect their bodies the way other species like snails do, early civilizations began to seek for external shelters to protect their bodies. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, and humanist, in his paper in 1943 titled “A Theory of Human Motivation, introduced the concept of a “Hierarchy of Needs”. He suggested that humans have a set of basic needs required for survival that have to be met before they move up the hierarchy to seek self-actualizing needs. He represented this in the form of a pyramid.
The four lower blocks of the pyramid are deficiency needs – they arise due to deprivation. One of man’s strongest physiological needs is security which includes air, water, food, and shelter. As early human civilizations began settling down and farming, they felt the necessity for a temporary, protected space to safeguard them from harsh weather and animals.
If architecture means built spaces for inhabitation by humans, wouldn’t it envisage the modified caves and early huts built by ancient civilizations? Architecture began as an immediate reflection of the need for safe dwelling spaces which birthed the earliest form of architecture as we know it today.
Feel of Architecture
Our world is filled with spaces that can imbibe a sense of divinity, faith, and awe in a person. It is a storyteller of cultures, people, and lifestyles of bygone eras that we can only witness through built spaces left behind. One can feel the intangible meaning of a place determined by the reflection of physical and spiritual aspects that add value and emotion. Imagining a world without architecture is imagining a world devoid of such storytelling; it stands in contrast to the very nature of human beings.
Built spaces today may seem overpowering compared to the open spaces that existed back in the day. But with thorough efforts and thoughtful designs, architects are tackling this very question – how can we create built spaces that give back to the environment? Various design approaches are celebrated of late that intend to answer the above question like biophilic architecture, healing architecture, and sustainable architecture to name a few.
Recent times have witnessed many people move from the countryside to the city but ironically, they yearn to renew their connection with nature. The biophilic design approach refers to designing with the intent of bridging the gap between nature and occupants. It incorporates natural elements like landscape, natural lighting, ventilation, organic forms, patterns, and processes inspired by nature. This helps in improved energy efficiency, cost-cutting, and low environmental impact. It encourages designs that coordinate with circadian body rhythm, keeping us aligned to our 24-hour body cycle. Formulating these designs and making them work in the practical world while optimizing cost is a challenge many architects are taking up today.
Healing Architecture is an architectural concept that is well celebrated in recent times. It aims to promote built spaces to nourish and help the mental and emotional well-being of a person. Healing architecture does not limit itself to just the design of hospitals for patients’ well-being, it also considers the ramifications on the patient’s family. It aims to support people’s internal, interpersonal, behavioral, and external healing and coping.
It is easy to say that architecture has facilitated humans to realize and shape our emotions, well-being, social needs, and personality. Every space has a direct impact on its occupants. With such large dynamism, the architecture allows people to interact, gather, gain knowledge, appreciate beauty, create identity, and express themselves. It stands as a physical testament to culture, wars, history, and the evolution of people with time.
Architecture today may have changed in terms of forms and expression but one thing has remained constant – the power it has to create warmth in a space. For most people, home isn’t a built space they live in; it’s a familiar place they find solace in, after a long stressful day. It takes much more than building four walls and calling it a house; it takes critical thinking and careful designing to tailor-make a space for a person and call it a home.
It is no doubt that architecture has the power to shape a house into a home, and an office into a workspace for people. The underlying reason for this is the people-centric design approach. Architecture is a broad term that encompasses all spaces designed for people. Without people, architecture may still exist in nature, but its creative essence wouldn’t be celebrated and this holds conversely – without architecture, people wouldn’t exist the way they do!
Exploring the concept of healing spaces – health design (2016) www.healthdesign.org. E Jennifer DuBose. Available at: https://www.healthdesign.org/sites/default/files/civicrm/persist/contribute/files/Exploring%20the%20Concept%20of%20Healing%20Spaces%282%29.pdf (Accessed: November 24, 2022).
Seven Principles of Biophilic Design (2016) SageGlass. Available at: https://www.sageglass.com/industry-insights/seven-principles-biophilic-design#:~:text=Biophilic%20design%20is%20an%20approach,healthy%20built%20environment%20for%20people. (Accessed: November 24, 2022).
Biophilia becomes a design standard (2012) Architect Magazine. Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/biophilia-becomes-a-design-standard_o (Accessed: November 24, 2022).
Cherry, K. (2022) Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760 (Accessed: November 24, 2022).