Humankind depends on Nature to fulfill its needs to live a desired lifestyle for its existence. Nature enriches our well-being by providing essentials like air, water, and food. Early men lived in natural caves and shelters, which they could make from natural resources. Every human being is interdependent on the other. With the rise of social needs and the growth of humans, civilizations in the World got established. History shows that architecture demonstrates the identity of each Civilization and plays a vital role in the development of the Human race. Can you imagine how the human lifestyle would have evolved if architecture was not a part of our World?
What is Architecture?
Architecture is the designing of a built environment. Human labor creates the Built Environment by combining physical elements and energy into form for living, working, and playing. The purpose of architecture is to improve human lives by creating spaces for all activities in life. Architecture is thus a result of human activity for its survival, growth, and development in the natural Environment.
“ If architecture was not a part of the World, how would human lives be? ”
Let us look at the various aspects of Humankind and imagine it without architecture as a part of it.
Nature existed in the World before human life came into existence. Human beings need shelter to protect themselves from natural hazards and other living organisms in the natural Environment. If architecture did not exist, we would have never used natural resources to make shelters for our needs. There would be a world where we all lived in cave shelters, amidst the boulders of rocks, under the shade of dense trees, in the trunk of hollow trees, and perhaps in every possible Shelter that Nature provided us.
The natural shelters may not remain the same always, as Nature keeps changing its forms over time. Thereby, there would be no permanent shelters for humans in the World. We would all be living a nomadic life in search of Shelters. Temporary shelters give the privilege to move across the World, changing locations and lifestyles in need of finding a Shelter.
In the present day, permanent habitats have occupied the land. With the increase in population in the World, the need for habitats increases. As a result, the demand for energy production increases, adversely affecting Nature by contributing to global warming. The permanent habitats have fulfilled the needs of human settlement while creating a positive and negative impact on the Environment. The idea of sustainability in architecture is a lead point of discussion in the current times. Humans can reduce the footprints of built structures on the planet by building shelters in a way that protects Nature. Do we need permanent shelters?
Along with shelter, humans need food, water, medicine, clothing, and occupation to live a comfortable lifestyle. If architecture did not exist, all these needs would not have been available simultaneously. There would be no roads developed which could transport people to distant places to obtain their daily needs. Human lifestyle would have evolved as per the landscapes around them. Humans would discover landscapes that provided the essentials for their livelihood.
Without architecture, humans and all the other living beings would be living in scattered parts of the World, coexisting for a livelihood. Humans would kill animals for food and clothing, go fishing in search of food, and eat fresh berries and fruits from the trees. We would cultivate crops in the fields for food and occupation, considering the climate and land. Thus, humans would have started defining their livelihood as unique in context with the terrain.
Illustration: M.Lopez-Herrera via The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project and Enrique Baquedano
In the present day, Architecture is an integral part of our livelihood. Architecture in different styles and forms is found all over the World. The built forms in architecture are responsive to the climate and resemble the livelihood of people. We must understand whether architecture has changed the human livelihood or we create architecture as per our livelihood. Humans should focus on creating built structures that uplift their livelihood and thus creating built environments that are unique to serve their purpose. Are we creating livable architecture?
Culture is an expression of Humans about their beliefs, customs, behavior, and moral values. Different Cultures with their own identities get formed when people gather to perform similar activities. If architecture did not exist, Humans would depict their culture through various art forms. Art is a powerful medium for the expression of a culture.
Without architecture, humans would express their culture through cave paintings, dance forms, clothing, and lifestyle. There would be no boundaries to define a particular culture. Different cultures would learn and share from each other. There would be no conflict of opinions, as no culture would be able to define itself as powerful by building settlements and structures greater than the other. No Religions would form to divide people into different categories according to their culture. The only culture that would flourish is Humanity.
In the present day, Human lifestyle is improving by constructing built structures around them that represent their culture and identity. Architecture inherently and inevitably documents everyday life. Different communities around the World create human settlements. There are diverse cultures that inhabit various parts of the World. The defined boundaries of human settlements result in conflict among people, which originates in war. Architecture can be used as a medium to create community interactions, build harmonious boundaries, and thereby encourage globalization. Is architecture an expression of cultural identity?
Education is an essential part of Human life needed to acquire knowledge. If architecture did not exist, Humans would lack the awareness of skills required for their growth and development. There would be no designed spaces for people to gather for learning. Learning would be about skill development and discovering innovations as a result of numerous experiments. There would be no defined terms for Education, and learning would more be an idea of self-exploration of Humans.
If there were no schools and places for learning, Education would be beyond the boundaries of a system. Without an education system, every individual would have a unique personality developed by their interest in learning. People would only own the knowledge restricted to their surroundings, culture, family, and friends. It would be impossible to acquire all kinds of Education. The absence of Architecture gives equal rights for all individuals to educate themselves in the best way they can and does not provide the privilege to a specific class.
In the present day, where Humans are thriving excellence in every sector of the World, Education is a prime asset for people that gives them the knowledge and power to achieve success. Schools and learning places have contributed to the growth of humans by providing Education. Built spaces designed to impart Education should promote the overall development and growth of the people. It should allow individuals to explore learning beyond the boundaries of architecture. Does architecture shape human minds?
Plants, animals, and other organisms, along with weather and landscape, contribute to the formation of an ecosystem. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems. If architecture did not exist, there would be a significant impact on the Environment. There would be no use of natural resources done by humans to build structures for their livelihood. Nature would take over the ecosystems through its constant evolution, creating challenging times for humans to survive in it.
Inappropriate use of Natural resources can create disturbance in the ecosystem. Without Architecture, natural energies produced in an ecosystem would not get utilized by humans. Humans would never be able to control Nature if they did not use built structures as a shield against natural calamities. Although, we would live in an environment with clean air, clear water, and fresh food.
“If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture.”
― Oscar Wilde
In the present day, architecture consumes a large number of natural resources as a result of its footprint on the Environment. Buildings create adverse effects on Nature by their built forms. Building materials emit carbon dioxide into the air. Inefficiently designed and constructed buildings use more energy, increasing energy demand and causing global warming. Architecture should be about coexisting with Nature. The ecosystem can remain balanced if buildings are designed sustainably for the Environment. Can Architecture leave its mark on an ecosystem?
By understanding the various aspects of Humankind, without architecture as a part of it, one can perceive how the human lifestyle would have evolved. Without architecture, all these aspects would exist in ways that are unimaginable to humans. Today, Architecture is a part of our everyday lifestyle. We dwell, eat, study, work, worship, and live in Architecture. Built forms have an impact on human behavior and lifestyle. Architecture has the power to change human lives.
“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”
- Sir Winston Churchill
With every aspect of Humankind, there is a question that urges us to ponder how Architecture can thoughtfully flourish human lifestyle and protect our globe.