The way you think before entering Architecture school will be different once you come out of it. Because architecture is not only a form of education, but it also becomes your way of life! This shift will not happen overnight, but rather in phases. The way you see your own home, the way you walk in the street, the way you look at buildings, the way you express yourself, and the way you view the world. Once you graduate, you will realize you no longer see things through the same lens. In my experience, these are five ways architecture will change your perspective on life.
1. Skyscrapers are More than Just Pretty Buildings | Perspective On Life
My superficial understanding of buildings was turned into a technical one. For the longest time, I believed that the design of skyscrapers was merely a random artistic choice, a way to stand out in a city and attract worldwide publicity. While some of these objectives might be true, various intricate engineering techniques lie behind every feature of iconic towers to redirect the wind. The higher we build the stronger the wind force gets. As a solution, The Kingdom Center in Saudi Arabia has a single large void at the top, allowing the wind to pass through where it blows the most.
Also, to reduce surface area, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, decreases in width as it increases in height. As well, its balcony edges are softened to minimize movement. The Shanghai Tower has a distinctive twist design that reduced 24% of wind loads by guiding it upwards and off the building. The latter led to saving 58 Million Dollars in structural material according to Gensler, the international design firm that designed the project.
These strategies changed my naive perception of my surroundings to realize that every decision made in architecture is practical, intentional, and impactful in terms of safety, well-being, and economics.
2. Public Spaces are Basic Needs
The most common misunderstanding of society is that architecture is solely about the buildings, but the truth is that it is all about the community and bringing people together. Due to the limited public spaces in cities around the world, we instantly believe that their presence is a luxury.
Throughout my architecture journey, I learned that public space is not an amenity rather it is a necessity and a basic need. As an essential part of the city, the latter needs to be inclusive and accessible by everyone from different cultures and backgrounds because they have a significant impact on all communities, specifically vulnerable ones. According to the UN-Habitat, public spaces have a positive effect on the physical and mental health of residents. They are also efficient ways to respond and combat climate change.
Therefore, accessing public spaces is our right to play in the city and engage with people in our community. The intention of designing public spaces isn’t to create new relationships but to strengthen existing ones.
To demonstrate, Lateral Office, a design practice in Canada intervened in the street of Montreal by placing an installation, named Impulse. It consists of interactive seesaws that activate light and sound when in motion. The architects stated that the project encourages people to interact instantaneously with public space for the joy of being together. The installation succeeded in bringing people together through play by activating a public space that would otherwise only be a pedestrian pathway.
3. Every Detail Suddenly Matters | Perspective On Life
Architecture thinking will change your thoughts on ordinary elements. My day-to-day distractions shifted from noticing people to staring at joints, window frames, floor tiling, doors, and guessing the distance between structures. It’s safe to say you won’t be able to go anywhere without examining every small detail you see.
While being detail-oriented is beneficial in the architecture profession, it might ruin your social setting. On a night out, when everyone is having a good time you will be on edge fixating on one slightly off-center cladding panel.
However, you will find joy and satisfaction whenever you encounter an element and understand its purpose. For example, in which direction doors open and why. On the ground floor and rooftop of every building, all circulation doors need to open to the outside based on the health and safety code.
Since, in the event of an emergency, people panic and need to leave the building as soon as possible, pushing doors to the outside becomes more effective. Now you might say it’s ridiculous to think about that every time you leave a staircase, well, how about every time you enter a bathroom. Bathroom doors open to the inside to contain the smell. If somehow the door’s direction was the opposite way, the entire apartment’s scent won’t be delightful, unless you’re a unicorn. There isn’t a need to worry, with these completely life-changing sane thoughts, you will somehow find inner peace.
4. Social Media Feed Will Never Be the Same Again
Not only architecture can change your daily thoughts, but it will also influence which content you consume. Early in my studies, I started unconsciously following accounts that align with my design aspirations. My social media feed rapidly switched from Disney actors and singers to satisfying renders, plans, maps, tutorials, interviews, design projects, and even funny structural fails. More importantly, I genuinely enjoy scrolling.
Besides, being exposed to such visual information helps to uncover industry trends in real-time. As digital content is integrated into our daily lives, we need to feed our brains with the knowledge that helps us grow on so many different levels because we become what we consume.
5. One Architecture Domaine isn’t Enough | Perspective On Life
A huge misconception I had was that the work of an architect is similar to any other ‘9 to 5’ job. But being an architect is far away from being a ‘one-trick pony’. We acquire a wide variety of skills throughout the years where we can excel in various fields other than working in an architecture office. Therefore, we are constantly thinking of new project ideas, new experiments, and new design solutions to challenges we face regularly.
Our architectural way of thinking leads us to consistently think with a purpose to articulate complex issues in simple ways. To take a quick picture we learn to focus on the composition, alignment, lighting, environment, and experiences. Our adaptability or problem-solving skills are essential to acquire in our field.
Our responsibility towards the community makes us advocates and able to make statements through design in our public space. The architecture program is a gateway to various opportunities. Thus, architects are capable of being photographers, urban planners, or installation designers to name a few.
If you are studying or working in the architecture field, then you might’ve found these stories relatable and positive. And if you found this article absurd, then welcome, you just had a glimpse of what goes on inside an architect’s mind. While architecture will entirely change your perspective on life, it will also make you a better human being. At its roots, as part of our culture, it reflects how we see ourselves hence how we see the world.
References | Perspective On Life
– Un Habitat:
– Lateral Office:
– Gensler shanghai tower: