Architecture is not just a profession; it is a lifestyle. Most people will look at a building and see the style or the materials and look for commonality. However, there is much more to a design than its looks. A good design is more than just the built environment, it reflects our cultural and traditional values that are born out of response to climatic, geographic, historical, and political factors. A good design can enrich lives.
Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Unlike everyone, architects see more than what meets the eye. They see the story the building intends to tell, the thought process behind every space, and the little details that everyone overlooks.
An Architect’s Perspective
As Architects, we realize the multidimensionality of this field. There is more to a structure than aesthetics. Let us think about architecture as an organizational system wherein at the core is structural thinking: how can we arrange things in both a functional and experiential way? How can we create structures that generate a series of relationships and narratives?
And how can fictional stories of the inhabitants and users of our building script the architecture, while the architecture script the stories at the same time? We could think of architecture as a complex system of relationships, both programmatically and functionally and in an experiential and emotional or social way.
Architecture is also a reflection of our society and similarly, it has evolved through history. It showcases the evolution of different styles, materials, and construction techniques over the years. Initially, the primary goal of architecture was to provide shelter as a basic survival need for humans. However, over time the world got more connected, and the style of construction evolved.
Architecture became a symbol of the culture and traditions practiced in a particular region. Every region developed a unique style of building, showcasing its heritage, power, and progress. However, now with globalization, we see similar building types in vastly different places. This proves that society and culture inevitably change, so do our buildings. One good example of such evolution is public spaces.
Perception of viewing public places: Architects vs Others
A common man views public spaces as an opportunity to relax, recreate and reconnect. However, an architect realizes it’s true importance. Public spaces do not just matter to us at an individual level, but it also matters in terms of the whole definition of the city or the society.
It is often the symbolic center of civic life, a forum for discussion and democratic practices. It is a recognition place for cultural and racial diversity and a place for the circulation of information. One of the most celebrated examples of this is the Agora of Athens which was once a marketplace and ground for political and intellectual debates.
Over the years, these spaces have evolved and adapted to the new changes in our culture. A public street or square is now disguised as an atrium. The stalls evolved into markets, then into streets and squares which again evolved into arcades, then gallerias and departmental stores and malls.
The places like forts, temples, mosques, and churches which formed traditional city centers have been replaced with business districts. Therefore, these spaces are designed in a way that encapsulates the essence of the past, the adequacy of the present, and the necessity of the future.
As an architect, we can see this evolution unlike others and pick up on the little details like the social cues among the users as well as the use of these spaces depending on the day of the week or time of the day or the use of space by different social groups at a different time of the day.
Similarly, people look at skyscrapers like structures to marvel upon- usually the taller, the better. However, as a designer, you realize the core purpose is to concentrate a larger population on a relatively smaller piece of land. The design of a skyscraper can usually create aloof places with no sense of connection to the community.
Only a designer or an architect appreciates a good design wherein the users engage with each other with clear segregation of the functions performed. A good design in turn improves the lives of the users.
In conclusion, years of practice in design school and professional life has fostered a sense of creativity within us. We look at the world differently. Our goal is to provide the best experience to the users, which in turn positively affects their minds and moods. We aim to make the best possible use of the space and use the principles of the past that could very well adapt to the necessity of the future as well.
As architects or designers, we are constantly looking for inspiration and it is everywhere. You can look for architecture within the forms of everyday objects or get inspired by nature. Some architects are inspired by the sails of a boat, the form of a lotus or a bird’s nest, or even the structure of a mere potato chip. Hence, we can find good designs all around us; it is just dependent on the curiosity of an architect.