Traversing through a crowded street across a hundred shops, honking vehicles, fuming eateries, rushing crowds, and a gazillion other things all happening simultaneously, a commoner might take it for any other regular day in a city of chaos and confusion. One might experience a vast multitude of social interactions while moving but cannot comprehend the sophistication of the complex mechanism he is being a part of. An architectural mind, however, possesses an advanced human ability to make some sense out of all these stated happenings. It takes note of the numerous interactions, relationships, responses, possibilities, psychological effects, and dialogues between the spaces and their users. The mind works almost constantly identifying a sense of rhythm, patterns, harmony, sanity, and most importantly, a story as a result of the culmination of these experiences. Order in the chaos!

The commoner sure does experience a designed space in a certain way but may not acknowledge or cannot determine the significance of their behavioral and sensory changes in accordance with the designed space.

Through the Architectural Lens - Sheet1
Hyderabad, Telangana_ ©Aman Upadhyay

An Architect’s Perspective: Five Stages of Perceiving a space

Acquired architectural know-how enables the mind to admit and appreciate the experiential changes the space incurs. There generates in the mind, a sense of predictability guided by past exposure and exploration of various other spaces alike. This can be understood through a five-stage analysis of perceiving things by an architectural mind.


When an architecturally influenced being comes across a designed built form, the vision is involuntarily transfixed to the designed space. In a very minute fraction of time, a powerful sense of utmost curiosity takes over, leaving the person gawking at the creation in awe. The eyes enthralled at the sight of a streak of sunlight falling onto a concrete surface causing a beautiful play of shadows.


The second phenomenon that follows is led by the architecturally conscious mind. The mind goes further deeper into a more refined state of trance where it uses all its senses to comprehend the architectural creation it is experiencing at that very moment. What started as a mere glance, eventually and often involuntarily, turns into a mesmerizing state of absorption of the thousand intricacies of the built form.


The third stage involves the architectural mind diving further deep into, not only the design of the space, but also the ‘What’s, and ‘Why’s of the design. A process of backtracking is initiated which includes questioning the aims and motives of the built form, the design philosophies at hand, the ideological aspects of the creation, the process of ideation and design development, and the urge to understand the inception of it all.

Critical Analysis

A rather elaborate analysis of the design is initiated in the minds of the beholder. An attempt is made to understand the built space and its dialogue with its immediate and secondary stakeholders. In addition to the initial ‘why’s and ‘what’s, another notion of ‘How’ gets added in the scene. How the space reacts with the users and vice versa. Every aspect of the design that’s comprehensible to the mind of the beholder is questioned and analyzed.


This entire process of gazing, assimilating, backtracking, and analyzing ends with contemplating over the built form yet again but with an in-depth apprehension and enhanced sense of critique. At the end of this elaborate thinking cycle, the architectural eyes again go back to what they started with, pondering over the architectural genius with a sense of satisfaction of comprehending the aims of the designer and the realization of knowing that every space has a story to tell and a reason to be. 

The enlightened eyes again behold in awe, the streak of sunlight falling onto the concrete surface and its beautiful play of shadows; and know now that it isn’t just another piece of coincidence or magic, but the direct consequence of its design aspirations. Architecture succeeds in arresting the minds of its disciples to this viciously addictive thought cycle. 

Through the Architectural Lens - Sheet2
Five Stages of Perceiving a Space_author

The Architectural Journey

The experience of visiting an age-old temple always humbles the human mind. So does spaces like colossal monuments, museums, sacred spaces, etc. One may feel the presence of some healing power in the premises, oblivious of the factors inducing it. It is through architecture, that one can identify these factors, How the composition of mammoth volumes, massing, the play of lights and shadows, materiality, directionality, history, context, etc. details have their direct implications on what we feel and why we feel in space as this.

An Arched Collonade, Amber Palace_ © Pijarn Jangsawang

Taking experience from former analysis, studies, experiments, visits, and overall understanding of the domain, the architectural mind is empowered enough to foretell and predict to a substantial degree of correctness, the relationships, and opportunities that a designed space holds for its users and the context it is being a part of. In a way, architecture acts as a time-traveling tool for its disciples to retrograde the design’s abstract and predict the built form’s potentiality. 

A deep architectural imprint on a person’s mind causes an irreversible mutation in the way of one’s ability and extent of perceiving things. Once acclimatized to this way of exploration, one simply cannot unsee the otherwise neglected details of design and architecture all around. The architectural mind attains a certain level of expertise in retrieving necessary data and its understanding from even the most trivial of architectural details. One is bound to ponder over the intrinsic details of a stone-carved jharokha or gaze in awe, at the sky-scraping marvels with a head full of wonders. The mind is equipped with the superpower of perceiving a space beyond its tangible components. To conclude this exploration of what architecture can do to a person and its influence on the transformation of his perceptions in contrast to the normative outlook, it may be fair enough to quote the famous words of the great poet Robert Frost,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” (frost, 2022)


frost, r., 2022. Robert Frost | Poetry Foundation. [online] Poetry Foundation. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 August 2022].


Deeptam Das is an architecture student with an appetite to explore the potentiality of architecture as a tool for societal transformation. An art enthusiast, he could be spotted scribbling on walls and etching thoughts upon classroom desks. He aspires to explore the relationship between architecture & communities across the globe.