“Without architecture, there would be no remembering.” – Once quoted by John Ruskin. Some would say that the need for architecture was discovered by our ancestors, the Cavemen. Meanwhile, some would say that the need for architecture was discovered when people began having perceptions of what they wanted their homes to look and feel like. Soon everyone’s vision of a certain space began to coincide, which then led to the evolution of architecture. History tells us that the earliest examples of architecture were the caves and the huts which remind us that architecture was born out of the need for shelter. Back then, one would only think of it as a functional requirement and nothing more. A beautiful example of this notion is the Sweet track found in England, which dates back to 3807 B.C. People who built it merely thought of it as a track-way, but it’s much more than a remnant of the past in the eyes of the beholder today. Similarly, our ancestors took notice of the beauty of simple structures which could be modified into something more symbolic and aesthetically pleasing. They realized that architecture had the power to evoke emotions. What if architecture never came into existence?

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Prehistoric Hut_©researchgate.net
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Sweet Track_©Blogspot.com

A video by SciArc ‘Imagine a World without Architecture’ gives us a visual walkthrough of buildings slowly fading away, making the world appear devoid of beauty, awe, and passion. They also show us how we’ll be unable to fathom heights and visualize form. The video concludes by proving that a world without architecture is a world without humanity. This is because Architecture creates a deep connection with us. An old house gives us nostalgic memories, a temple plants belief and divinity in our minds, a towering palace urges us to respect our rulers and a cemetery causes our hearts to ache in the memory of our loved ones. 

When humankind dwelled within caves, they saw light outside and darkness within. They observed the stark difference between light and shadow and wanted to weave them together. That is when they gradually understood that architecture gives meaning to light and shadow along with their co-existence. 

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Light and Shadow_©aydinlatma.org
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Light and Shadow_©pinterest.com

In an exclusive interview conducted by Vikas Shah MBE with Martha Thorne, Richard Rogers, and Mohsen Mostavi, the architects expressed their thoughts about the importance of architecture. They spoke about how architecture defines order and organization. These two elements are solely responsible for narrow streets and roads connecting to draw up cities in a clear pattern, for example, Chandigarh (consisting of a grid-like pattern). Today, our cities are well-planned and continue to develop further along with transportation at an urban scale. Can you imagine how chaotic a disorganized town or city would be without urban planners and architects? Transportation would still be an issue. The concept of a 15-minute city would never have been thought of. Cities without iconic buildings would lose their identity. Architecture is what gives the people and the city their character. Sometimes it even becomes a representation of the culture of a particular place. Paris would not be known as the city it is, had it not been for the Eiffel Tower! Greece wouldn’t have been able to attract tourists if not for the ancient ruins of temples in Athens. 

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The Eiffel Tower, Paris_©saatchiart.com
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Athens, Greece_©civitatis.com

Architecture is what gives purpose to life and shelter without which, we would be stuck in a loophole of hovering around with no hope of settling down. Spaces would not have boundaries or definitions without place-making elements. This in turn would result in shaping human behavior and interaction in a different and possibly negative way. Different environments may not have had their own set of values and cultures. How would social interaction then play out in a working environment versus a leisurely environment? Would society have been able to thrive as it does today?

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Interaction in an office_©hfmmagazine.com
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Interaction in an office_©hfmmagazine.com
Interaction in an office_©hfmmagazine.com

We wouldn’t feel the same level of security at home as we do now. Our homes would miss out on providing us with the warmth and comfort we crave after a long day. There would be no social gatherings and celebrations on festive occasions. Architecture is a reflection of our emotions without which we simply cannot live. Architecture would have been that missing puzzle-piece everyone would constantly be looking for. 

The Jewish museum in Berlin is an exemplar of the heart-wrenching history of the Jewish Holocaust. The museum walks us through the three stages of a Jewish prisoner’s life representing Continuity, exile, and death. One can’t help but feel the horrific aftermath of the past still lingering in the depths of the massive voids enclosing the corridors. The long passages intersect at different angles forming dead ends. People maneuver through a series of dark and tall spaces consisting of narrow slits of light representing hope. The Tower of the Holocaust is an excellent representation of what it feels like to be trapped in a dark abyss. We then move to the Garden of Exile which has 49 concrete pillars laid out in a 7×7 grid on a planar surface. A lush green layer shades the garden which is tipped over to create uneasiness in the passers-by along with a feeling of being trapped. At the end of the journey, one has to walk over numerous metallic pieces resembling the faces of the lost Jews in the ‘ Void of Memory ’. Similarly, the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar islands is also a reminder of a series of unforgettable events discussed in history textbooks to date. 

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The Jewish Museum, Berlin_©researchgate.net
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The Corridors_©divisare.com
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The Void of Memory_ © cplusc.com
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The Garden of Exile_©trekearth.com
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The Garden of Exile_©flickr.com

Without Architecture, stories of the past and present cannot be brought to life. It is a living example of different timeframes. Buildings age beautifully and one possibly travel through time in them. Every piece of architecture has a story to tell, be it an ancestral home, an abandoned town, or a historical marvel. Therefore, we say that architecture must possess the character of timelessness. Years later, we must be able to look back at the stories and reminisce about the good old times. Because after all, what would the world’s story be without the existence of architecture?  


Adiya is an architecture student pursuing her studies in BMS College of Architecture, Bangalore. She believes that architecture can not only be expressed through form but through words too which help evoke certain emotions in the readers. Her passion for art and writing is what peaks her interest in the field of architectural journalism.