Essentially translated as “the art or science of building,” one can define architecture as a series of conscious decisions involving construction that invokes subjective reactions from its users. While a creator’s intentions shape the design, everyone has individualistic perspectives that develop over time. To illustrate this, let us consider the concept of the Primitive Hut by architectural theorist Marc-Antoine Laugier. Picture this. A barren expanse of land. As you march across with the intention of settling, you see the sunny skies meet the empty plot. You seek respite; however, the land is devoid of civilization. The simplest solution would be to create an enclosure of six slabs – or in other words – create shelter. This is what Laugier spoke of: the primary principle of architecture as a means of countering the necessity of shelter (Marc-Antoine Laugier, Wolfgang Herrmann and Anni Herrmann, 2009).

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A Camp in Kenya reminiscent of Laugier’s Primitive Hut_Keith Levit

Although, as time and technology evolved, so did our perception of design. It transitioned from a mere means of shelter to architecture that announces itself. Architectural philosophies today express geometry, form, and structure with much more exaggeration. A vast majority of architecture today emanates a sculptural quality that was absent in earlier times. Inherent to all architecture are intangible elements such as the narrative behind the project, the interplay between light and shadow, and user experience. These invisible ingredients make up for good design. To elucidate these statements, let us examine each of the topics within the context of some architectural typologies. 

Skyscrapers: Giants in the Sky 

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New York’s Skyscrapers_Dezeen
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56 Leonard Skyscraper by Herzog de Meuron_Hufton+Crow

“The skyscraper establishes the block, the block creates the street, the street offers itself to man” (Barthes, 1979, p.151). As aptly quoted by French scholar Roland Barthes, high-rise towers are significant nodes in the urban fabric of cities. Not only do skyscrapers elevate city skylines, but they also provide the city with newer, appealing identities. These vertical volumes are pinnacles of modernity, economic, and social status. They are architectural acclamations of the growth and development of cities, and an American architect, Louis Sullivan describes them in his essay as, “a proud and soaring thing” (Sullivan, 1896).

An emerging trend in the high-rise culture is the incorporation of sustainable design strategies as everyone is becoming more and more inclined towards greener perspectives of architecture. For instance, skyscrapers are major consumers of energy and contributors to greenhouse emissions. Due to this, numerous next-generation designs are taking to greenery and technology as a means of curbing these issues and promoting sustainability, and resiliency in cities.

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Vertical planting turns a skyscraper green at One Central Park, Sydney_Shutterstock
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One Central Park – Facade_Murray Fredericks
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One Central Park – Facade Concept_Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Public Realm

Public places alleviate the urban fabric of cities, serving as neutral thresholds of the built environment. From an architectural standpoint, a successful public place is one that is accessible to all and by all. They are an asset to the community where individuals can come together to network with each other. Viewed as voids in urban design, public places are gathering grounds for individuals to engage in activities as a societal whole. They may be organic or architecturally facilitated. 

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Brainport Smart District Master Plan_UNSense
Marco Polo Terraces in the HafenCity_Hess

“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” (Stubbs, 2020). Danish architect Jan Gehl preaches the importance of public places as a medium of fostering participation amongst various social groups and creating a cohesive community in cities.

Museum Architecture 

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Andalucia’s Museum of Memory by Alberto Campo Baeza_Javier Callejas
Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame by Trahan Architects_Tim Hursley

Translating time into space, museums are an essential typology of architecture that has existed for centuries. They are cultural hubs in the urban fabric of cities, having a symbolic significance. They intend to shelter and share knowledge regarding artistic, cultural, historical, and scientific objects. Today, museums are no longer dormant spaces, but rather a series of interactive spatial sequences where society comes together to engage in cultural dialogues. These experiences can be enhanced with the smart use of architecture to provoke meaningful cultural journeys within the museum. As art critic Brian O’Doherty rightly exclaimed, “We have now reached a point where we see not the art but the space first” (O’Doherty, 1986).

Final Perceptions

Those were just a few typologies that depict how architecture has the power of altering your perceptions. When you realize that architecture is not just the building or the content, but the blend of experiences, nature, and form. Architecture has been regarded as an art form of the eye. However, while sight is the most apparent sense of engagement, architecture involves a multitude of senses. 

To conclude with a statement by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa from his book The Eyes of the Skin, “In memorable experiences of architecture, space, matter, and time fuse into one singular dimension, into the basic substance of being, that penetrates our consciousness. We identify ourselves with this space, this place, this moment, and these dimensions become ingredients of our very existence. Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world, and this mediation takes place through the senses” (Pallasmaa, 2012, p.76). Architecture is synonymous not just with shelter, but also with this symphony of spatial experiences, and once you understand this, your perception of design will reach new depths.


Barthes, R. (1979). The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies. University of California Press, p.151.

Jagannath, T. (2018). The Importance of Public Spaces. [online] Medium. Available at:

Marc-Antoine Laugier, Wolfgang Herrmann and Anni Herrmann (2009). An essay on architecture. Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls.

O’Doherty, B. (1986). Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space. San Francisco: The Lapis Press.

Pallasmaa, J. (2012). The Eyes of the Skin. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, p.76.

Stubbs, P. (2020). The Best Quotes by Jan Gehl — city planner and urban visionary. Medium. Available at:

Sullivan, L. (1896). The tall office building artistically considered. Lippincott’s Magazine, Mar., pp.403–409.


Urva Parmar, an architect, and an amateur writer, seeks to highlight her interests in research, fabrication, and green building technologies through her writing. She is an inquisitive individual who appreciates finding parallels between architecture and other disciplines.