When asked, ”What would the world be like without architecture?” One of the answers was ‘Flat.’ Architecture encompasses this world and has an unbreakable hold on the human mind. The beginning of architecture may be considered the beginning of humanity itself. Humans and architecture have been so entwined for eons that it is difficult to imagine a world where the design form doesn’t exist. To even begin fathoming such a world, one first needs to understand the beginning of architecture.

The Beginning of Architecture | Driving Force

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Ancient cave dwellings in Urgup, Turkey._©Laurie McGinley

Some of the earliest examples of human attempts at architecture occur around 10,000 B.C, during the Neolithic period. The first ever architectural space known to man is the ‘Human Home.’ The need for shelter against the natural forces led to the search for a space that offered protection and comfort. Hence began the cave dwellings, humans’ first attempts to craft a personal space. From humble caves to grand cathedrals, humans have mastered architecture and created marvelous structures. But the exact beginning of architecture would be difficult to trace as it would require the definition of architecture. Does it apply to only built structures? Do primitive spaces count? As these questions are subjective, one can never guess the starting point of human architecture.

Architecture as a Driving Force

Architecture has the power to shape ideas, influence artists, create cultural landmarks, and change the lives of architects and common folk alike. From designing skyscrapers that keep getting higher to underground tunnels that connect underneath the oceans, architecture has constantly made humans dream of the impossible. Without it, there would be little to no advancement in terms of human living conditions. There would also be no driving force to do better, to create.

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The Urbanscape._©Astemir Almov / Unsplash

Without architecture, humans would be free of materialistic ambitions, there would be no desire to always move forward in life. 

Without the built environment humans would be their truest, most natural selves. They would lead simple lives, free of extravagance, in perfect harmony with nature.

Humans within Architecture 

When considering a building as an object, it is important to consider its general shape, the facade’s quality, and how its other sides are visible. You consider it to be mass, volume, and bulk. In terms of line, color, and materials, you can see it. And you take into account how it relates to the other structures.

However, there is undoubtedly a whole different aspect to structures, and that is how they feel while you are inside of them.

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Humans Experiencing Spaces._©Joana França, Driving Force

Buildings are closer to us than music, painting, literature, or film, which are things we encounter briefly but passionately. This is because we live with them and are constantly surrounded by them. While you’re watching a movie, practically everything you see is what’s in front of you; when you’re inside a building, other perceptions and thoughts only occasionally leave your mind. Without architecture, the human mind would be ungrounded. Ideas would form and float away, with no home to keep them in, no factory to generate them.

History without Architecture 

As art and architecture are deeply connected, there would be little to no development in the arts without architecture. Historic movements like Art Deco, Baroque, modernism, etc would not exist. Art would be stagnant without architecture. A built form is a snapshot of the place in a moment in time. It stays timeless, undisturbed unless a change is made to it. These forms are perfect examples of the preservation of history. Structures hold memories of the era’s cultural heritage. Without architecture, the past would always remain a blank sheet. Generations forgotten. There would be no trace of human existence on earth.

Interior of the Pantheon, Rome. c. 1734._©Giovanni Paolo Panini/National Gallery of Art

Human Life without Architecture | Driving Force

Humans existing without architecture is an absurd thought to process.

Everything that makes a space unique would be absent. The creative void would be felt throughout every space around the world. The lack of idiosyncrasies in design would create areas barren and devoid of human touch. The basic living spaces would be drastically different. There would be no art. Even if there was, there would be no space to display it. There would be chaos. But there would also be perseverance.

Humans would have to rely on nature for protection. They would start living in caves, seek shade under trees, and seek out rivers for water. A sense of community would be lacking as there would be no spaces to gather and interact, and no place for communal gatherings. Societies are built on social interaction and collaboration. A society without architecture would collapse.

All this is just speculation because imagining human existence without architecture to its fullest extent is impossible. People from all walks of life are deeply ingrained in the architectural framework. So much so that humans and architecture are now leading a homogenized existence. As a result, the human mind is unable to generate an image of something so improbable.


  1. Widewalls. 2022. The History of Architecture in a Nutshell | Widewalls. [online] Available at: <https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/the-history-of-architecture> [Accessed 1 October 2022].
  2. Goldberger, P., 2009. Why Architecture Matters.
  3. When Did Architecture Start? | BGW Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.bgw-architects.com/when-did-architecture-start/ [Accessed 1 Oct. 2022].
  4. SCI-Arc Channel. (2017). Imagine A World Without Architecture,[YouTube video]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c8FtVMxdaE&ab_channel=SCI-ArcChannel. [Accessed: 30 September 2022].

Badurunissa is an architect, history enthusiast, Literary fiction aficionado, and aspiring writer. She likes to weave worlds through words and is always trying to find ways to understand the parallels between culture and architecture. A lover of the lively and vibrant, she seeks to create spaces that emulate the same.