The built form around the space turned into a place, an emotion that rises while being in that space, the connection one builds to the structures, every memory where one thinks of any moment, it is somehow or the other associated with a structure or a place, this is what architecture is, and this is what it does to you.

 The association and linkage between humans and architecture date to 8000 B.C. and continues to date. The idea of even imagining one without the other seems entirely out of the box. But what if something like this was even possible in real life?

Let’s find the answers. 

The journey of a man from when he is born to when and where he takes his last breath is always associated with someplace, a building, a built form in some form or other. But what would happen if this association is removed altogether?

Architecture today and centuries ago are common on the grounds of providing shelter and protecting humanity from the environment around them. The changes that have been brought are in terms of scalability, functionality, aesthetics, and technological advancements, but that still doesn’t change the sole intention of having an intervention around.

Ever since prehistoric times, the times since human civilization started, the very first thing that even Apes did was find a place to hide or protect themselves from predators and the climate. This led to the beginning of architecture in the form of caves. Soon after this, the caves were not the only place to find shelter but had added functions to them. This is seen in the presence of temples, shrines, and sculptures of deities in them. 

These caves became places for people to interact, share and build community and diversify. Similarly, as years passed and as people evolved, the scale of these caves grew massive, the techniques of making them changed, the places of making them changed, and people shifted from caves to easier-built forms. The intention and requirement remained the same; just functions kept on adding. 

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Cave Paintings at Altamira,Spain_©insight guides

Wherever people settle, they tend to leave behind a piece of their realm, and this is what architecture does- it preserves these realms. This doesn’t stop here, the architecture passes on from one generation to the other, and with each passing generation, it brings better amendments, better technology, and advancements. All this tends to further make human life easier and more sustainable. The culture they adopt, the climate in which they live, the community they thrive, and the habits or adaptations of people all get represented in architecture in some form or the other.

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Badami Caves, Karnataka_©indianholidays

Starting from temples, churches, and mosques that portray religious beliefs, the Kath Khuni architecture of the Himalayas, and the igloos of Alaska, each of the built forms represented what human beliefs were, what they stood for, what made them different and yet united. All this made evident how humans evolved as a community and brought the world to the stage where it is now.

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Kandariya Mahadev Temple,Khajuraho,India_©dreamstime

Imagine having no evidence of cave painting, no way to trace back ancestral roots, no way to study the building materials available or those which have perished, and no way to know what made us evolve as species. This would leave all of us in the utter wilderness and a thread with no dead ends to meet. 

However, when thought from the other side of the argument, humans without architecture would mean bringing all the nomadic means of survival back, going back to caves, or even something different.No existence of built form, thus no place where people met, no destination to celebrate or fight or even feel sorry, to definite location to collaborate,proper and grow- culturally, economically, ritually and even physically.However, it would mean making people dependent on each other more than anything else- from hunting to food to survival.This would  

The world would come to a still. No heights to look at and admire, no place for people to gather, relax, and flourish, no place for people to grow as a community, and no place for keeping the sole humanitarian alive. Materials and natural resources would get rejuvenated, and the earth would become quieter and more peaceful to live in, but at the cost of nothing being productive enough for the betterment of human life.

No Mans Land_©LS22 mods

After looking at all the points of how humans and architecture are co-related and interdependent, one can say that either of the above cannot exist without the other. How the two have been co-dependently existing, fulfilling each other’s requirements and flourishing to the utmost, makes one relook at the positions and moments where the former is harming or degrading the latter or, for that matter, even vice versa. This could ensure a better sustainable and healthier living environment for the living and those who are yet to come. Lastly, it will help us to work on what’s best for all of us and to make such an environment around us that there’s no need for us to think, “what would humans without architecture mean”.


Masira is an undergraduate student at Sir J.J. College of Architecture, a passionate designer, learner, and self-taught writer. She aims to learn a wide variety of architectural topics and to research them extensively to increase her knowledge bank. She believes that architecture is means of shaping people's lives and making this world not only liveable but habitable too.