Humans have always been a peculiar race. Nature gifted us with the ability to invent, and we never compromised with it. Architecture as we know it today, could be defined in quite a few ways. It is not just a physical environment designed to be inhabited for intended purposes; it is a profoundly important reflection of culture; it is an experience; it is a multidimensional storybook. Architecture is all around us, and it is impossible to imagine our life without it.

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Architecture defines our lives today

Ar. B.V. Doshi in one of his interviews mentions, “Architecture is a matter of transformation: transformation of all our situations into a favourable condition.” In many ways, architecture has moulded the evolution of our species. Since we figured out how to build shelter, we used our skills to satisfy every need, fantasy and luxury. Architecture that started by helping nomadic tribes find a stable lifestyle in a single place, ended up playing the most important role in civilization. Architecture was now used for displays of hierarchy and power; for a showcase of skills and artforms; for activity places, gathering spaces and every other purpose.

However, what happens when we imagine thousands of years of human evolution without architecture? What if we never found ways to build refuge from the wild? Humans, although brilliant, are limited to a certain fashion of linearity. Until he finds a solution to the big problem at hand, he wouldn’t have the respite to think of the further problems that may follow. For instance, if humans never discovered how to stack natural objects onto each other and enclose infinite space into little habitable homes, they would never be comfortable enough to think about how to better their home-building methods. This would mean a lack of the billions of inventions we enjoy today. Right from electricity to the books we read; all brilliant ideas that came from the leisure musings of man would never take birth. It is difficult to imagine the bizarre problems we would be having instead.

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A life of wandering in search of food and shelter

We would still be nomads, feeding off of our hunting and fishing skills, unable to settle in one place in fear of becoming prey ourselves. A simple heavy downpour of rain or a chilly winter would be enough to wipe off large percentages of our tribes. We might have discovered intelligent ways of transport, but since no way of protecting ourselves from harsh climates would have been found, we wouldn’t have favourable conditions to discover agriculture as a full-time occupation. For the most part, without architecture giving our life immense sophistication and quality, existence would be rough, tragic and widely uncomfortable.

Nomadic women
_© © Roger S. Duncan, US Navy/WikimediaCommons

Accounts of history would be extensively inaccurate as archaeological evidence and findings would be missing from them. The architecture that we build stands the test of time to stay behind long after we’re gone and tell future civilizations about our ways of life and society. If there was no architecture, folklore would be our only source of information about our ancestors. The feeling of surprise and intrigue we experience on coming across a great archaeological finding; about the ways of olden life, their rituals, their crafts, or their technology would be inexistent.

Without architecture, we would be missing the safe haven we desperately need to protect ourselves from the very nature that birthed us. Our homes, road networks, monuments, government buildings, educational institutions, theatres, skyscrapers are an integral part of our lives. It is hard on the brain to try and imagine a life where these structures, or life as we know it, never existed. Architecture is the backbone of our society. It is the fabric that defines how society functions. Architecture helps define human and societal relationships. It provides a space for the like-minded to come together and work towards a common goal. In the absence of architecture, we would be mere wanderers who never got a carefree good night’s sleep.

Remember the first time you visited an ancient architecture marvel; something larger-than-life that stayed with you in memory. Now recall how it made you ponder about the time when these structures were in use for their original purposes; when the now-eerie hallways were bustling with joy and laughter, when the high forts housed elephants and horses and soldiers who were always on guard, when the townsfolk were bathing in The Great Bath. Without architecture, how would you marvel at the calibre of the human brains that built The Great Pyramids? Who would believe that rocks dug out from the earth could be carved into sculptures and temples? How would you imagine the inconceivable without physical proof that some feats, although unexplainable, have been accomplished?

Architecture has evolved from being perceived as just a shelter that keeps you safe, to an irreplaceable symbol of our culture. Populations across the globe adopted architecture as an integral element of building their communities. The way we interact with the people around us, the belief systems and values we hold as a society are the base of this timeless storybook called architecture. Our structures tell the stories that words never could truly explain. Every brick laid in the wall of humanity has been carefully crafted with the billions of thoughts that were put into it. To imagine a life without architecture is to imagine human extinction in the very initial years of our existence.


Mrudula is an architect who believes that architecture is the ultimate art form. Her sketchbook is her constant companion on all her travels. An aficionado of all art, she can find her muse in the most mundane things.