What do you usually think of when you walk down a street? What do you experience when you visit a new city or country? What do you think of when you look at building in general? Do you look up at skyscrapers and wonder at their massiveness, backing up as far as you can to catch a glimpse of their peaks? Do you look at buildings with curved and serpentine shapes and marvel at their uniqueness? Do you, when you walk through a garden or a park pay attention solely to the beautiful nature surrounding you?

Or, do you, when you look at a skyscraper wonder about the earthquake resistance mechanisms in place, about what kind of shading devices are present, and how the building is ventilated? Do you look at a curvilinear form and wonder how exactly it was constructed and the use of which materials produced that form? Do you, in a garden, think about how you would utilize the landscape to bring out the sights, sounds, and smells of the nature surrounding you?

If you, dear reader, find yourself relating to more of the latter, then I believe it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to guess that you are, in fact, an architect (or an architect in-training, like me).

 Architecture and its Reversal of Perspective - Sheet1
Skyscrapers in New York_+MusikAnimal

The Gradual Change

Growing up, the days before entering the vast and never-ending void that is architecture found most of us starting in the first category, with some exceptions and outliers of course. We would look at the buildings and infrastructure around us with nothing other than pure fascination or in some cases, simple dislike. Once we were introduced to the world of architecture, however, this innocent gaze, this experience, this habit of looking at everything in black and white gradually began to change.

It usually starts small, with seemingly insignificant tendencies like trying to identify what pattern of brick masonry is used in a certain building and making it a personal challenge or showing off your knowledge of standard door heights to the rest of your family and them looking at you in awe, making you feel like you’re one step closer to winning the Pritzker Prize

Then, bit-by-bit, this habit of observing the smaller details in the architecture around you starts increasing and you begin to realize that your perspective, your way of seeing the world has changed completely, sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much (it does tend to get annoying at times).

The Devil is in the Details

It happens at the most unsuspecting of times. In my case, for example, it happens when I sit in a history class, learning about Renaissance buildings and thinking back to the times I visited them, wanting to go back to experience everything again. I find myself wishing I could go to these places at a time like now when I have the ability to identify their details and their iconic features – their domes, vaults, spires and so many more.

It can be bothersome at times. When, for example, you go back to your family home and realize that the door widths or the window heights aren’t exactly standardized, and are either a tad too small or big, not obvious enough for the layman to notice, but not subtle enough for trained eyes to miss. 

It happens sometimes when you’re sitting at a restaurant, a new one, one you’ve never been to before and you notice the wallpaper with a brick design that was clearly added to enhance the ambiance of the place, but it’s obvious unoriginality leaves a sour taste in your mouth.             

 Architecture and its Reversal of Perspective - Sheet2
Renaissance Building, St. Peters Basilica_+Julie Gibson

Finding a Deeper Connection

Fascinating and slightly irking aspects of this change in perspective aside, one of the biggest and most significant changes I have experienced after entering the world of architecture is the fact that every building, built form or any space built with some sort of architectural input seems to have a lot more depth. It stops being just about how the building looks, its materials, and its dimensions but also makes you think about the architect. It makes you think more about their intention, what exactly they were thinking when they used a certain color or a certain shape. 

When you see a particularly unique design, it makes you develop a certain sense of respect for the architect and makes you think about how much work, effort, and thought they would have put in, in order to create something as wonderful as that. It makes you think of your own experiences, being when you were working hard at architecture school or even later into your career. 

Architecture as a field, though it is not a bed of roses, teaches us things beyond just how to design a building, it sometimes allows us to experience things we would never have expected, things that completely change our perspectives and in turn, our lives. It is these small things, good or bad, these seemingly insignificant things that place architects apart from the rest.

Unique Buildings, The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao_+Erika Ede

Priyesha is currently a student at RV College of Architecture, Bengaluru. An avid reader with a passion for travelling, she also has a background in public speaking, debating, creative writing and music. She aims to find a good balance between these personal interests and her academic interest in architecture.