Architecture has always been around us – it’s an integral part of the environment we live in. We have always been exposed to architectural experiences from a time when we didn’t even know this word. Ranging from one’s room, house, and school to their town and streets, there is an image perceived in the human mind from childhood that might or might not be comprehended or articulated. “We know them all. And yet we do not know them. In order to design to invent architecture, we must learn to handle them with awareness. This is research: this is the work of remembering.” – Thinking Architecture (Zumthor, Oberli-Turner and Schelbert, 2006)
Being an architect or learning about architecture heightens the senses toward our surroundings and makes us understand the relationship between built and unbuilt. The observation skills increase, and the “Why” arises. Curiosity to know what went into designing that particular structure or space and continuous suggestions and critics about the same take a toll on one’s mind. The things that have always been around us start to give an altogether different meaning. “There is a power in the ordinary things of everyday life. We only have to look at them long enough to see it.” – Thinking Architecture (Zumthor, Oberli-Turner and Schelbert, 2006)
From entering a house to driving by the street and gazing at an eminent marvelous landmark of a city, an eye for detail is developed. Are the windows placed according to the correct orientation? Does a particular space follow minimum standards of dimensions? How do the materials feel? Is it form follows function or the other way round? These are some of the common questions that usually do cross our minds. The shift is as basic as a change in photography angles from being people as subjects to the supposed building background as subjects. Even the buildings and spaces become some major areas of observation in movies and series.
For example, for a person without architectural insight, the following place might just only be a fascination and a tourist spot, but for a person with architectural knowledge, this would definitely raise questions regarding the form, material, planning and concept. There comes a difference in perception for both kinds of people for a similar place.
Every space has a different perception for different people depending on one’s experiences, personality and way of looking at things. Each space has two different kinds of aspects, one is perceptual, and the other is structural. The structural one is the obvious kind, free from any kind of affiliations and is the same for all kinds of people, whereas the perceptual one is governed by cultural and social affiliations. (Yazdanfar, Heidari and Aghajari, 2015) Let us look at some of the examples that can tell us about this change of perspective.
Skyscrapers | Change of perspective
Looking from a layperson’s point of view, these are buildings of grandeur and attraction providing a majestic view of the city, but from an architectural perspective, these are models of vertical expansion set out in an urban context and important landmarks standing out in the city’s skyline. “Their collective creation—the skyscraper—enabled cities to add vast amounts of floor space using the same amount of ground area.” (Glaeser, 2022) They are the testimony of technological advancement and economic progression as well as provide an effective solution to one of the major urban issues of increasing population density.
These are common, aesthetic gathering spaces where people can socialise, engage in activities and take a break from their busy lives in general. But, “The importance of urban design goes far beyond feel-good aesthetics.” (Bond, 2022) These are welcoming and dynamic places carefully designed to establish a relationship between the city and the people having a positive influence on them. It not only acts as a place where people can unwind themselves but is also an important aspect of placemaking.
Monuments | Change of perspective
Earlier, they were recreational tourist places that one must visit, but after architecture, one realises that they have a huge significance in representing the timeline of a particular place. It doesn’t only make us learn about the architectural styles but becomes the foundation for most of the construction practices adopted today. It instils the importance of conserving these places to learn from those who lived before us.
Throughout our architectural school, we are taught to observe and absorb things around us so that we can apply those experiences in our designs. This change of perception becomes phenomenal as it changes the outlook toward the everyday things engulfed by both emotion and reason. (Zumthor, Oberli-Turner and Schelbert, 2006) Awakening towards the surroundings, questioning everything we see, and a significant increase in observational skills are some of the changes that take place.
- Bond, M., 2022. The hidden ways that architecture affects how you feel. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170605-the-psychology-behind-your-citys-design> [Accessed 22 April 2022].
- Glaeser, E., 2022. How Skyscrapers Can Save the City. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: <https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/308387/> [Accessed 22 April 2022].
- Zumthor, P., Oberli-Turner, M. and Schelbert, C., 2006. Thinking architecture. Basel: Birkhäuser.
- Yazdanfar, S., Heidari, A. and Aghajari, N., 2015. Comparison of Architects’ and Non-Architects’ Perception of Place. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 170, pp.690-699.