Often architecture is conceived as a physically built space having materialistic values, but on the other hand, this does not dissolve the fact that it is a representation of the ways of human living, civilisation, and culture. It can be considered as one of the biggest living pieces of evidence of human life of the past and will serve as the same for the generations to come. Hence, architecture can be regarded as a medium of communication to its beholders, about various factors such as the culture, climate, and other environmental factors of the place, through its colours, form, sizes, materials, furnishings, and landscaping, though these interpretations so formed can vary depending upon the cultural backgrounds of people. This article explores two categories of impacts of this communication of architecture on people- psychological and physical.  

Psychological impacts of Architecture

The communicative tendency of Architecture not only portrays the cultural identity of the place but also plays a role in framing perceptions of the functions hosted by the building. For example, the perception of the legal system differs from the older courthouse to that of the modern ones, as the latter demonstrates law to be stable, efficient, and predictable, covering up the negative perceptions of people’s preconceptions about the inefficiencies of the legal system.

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The older & modern architectural styles of the courthouses in the U.S respectively_©L-tysto.com, R-designboom.com

In addition to what the ‘architectural style’ of the building passes on to the people, psychological communication also can be from a materialistic point of view. One such example is the impact created by the physical environment of a school, which does not present itself in its most welcoming attire to the children and parents if it is not well-maintained or is without attractive colours or artwork on the walls. It is also psychologically proven that using bright primary colours in primary schools triggers a sense of curiosity in children and hence seem to be more appealing to them. 

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Attractive corridor design in Nanyang primary school, Singapore_© inhabitat.com
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Attractive facade design in a school in Beijing_© architectureanddesign.com.au

Physical impacts of Architecture

Architecture can also influence how people physically interact with each other by either fostering and promoting social interaction or by restricting the same. For example, corridors usually tend to restrict social interaction, and on the contrary, circular spaces tend to encourage interaction between people.

While it is true that the geometrical form of space can contribute effectively to this process, having the space furnished with elements may also greatly impact it. Starting right from the smaller areas in the building, furnished with elements such as drinking water coolers, to the bigger furnished city squares can prove to be essential meeting or gathering spaces for people. A study suggests that the success of the concept of open-space plazas in New York City was largely governed by the street furniture such as fountains, benches, food stalls and the inclusion of activities and events for the people, without which it was previously underutilised. On the other hand, the presence of elements such as fences restricts people’s movement.

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Flatiron Plaza in New York City_© L-Naho Kubota, R- Cameron Blaylock

It is also interesting to note that architecture strongly holds control over regulating the spatial ability of the actors through the medium of visual paths and does not limit its share of control only through the physical aspects discussed. Considering the interiors of a classroom designed for students, the furniture layout plays a vital role in inducing programmed encounters between the pupils by allowing appropriate visual contact between peers. The U-shaped seating arrangement, for example, never allows the students to face each other’s back, providing an entire view of all the people in the classroom; as a result of which, it serves to be an excellent layout for promoting student interaction and socialisation. It, therefore, enhances group discussions and increases class participation.

U seating layout fostering interaction_©vsamerica.com

A cyclic process

Analysing the level of impact that architecture creates on people, it is evident that every single detail forming a part of the architectural design package is human-centric, making people the significant core of any architectural design, and hence it must adapt to the changing needs of the people with time. For instance, the emerging use of elevators instead of the staircase in buildings; or the earlier plumbing codes in public spaces, according to which a higher number of toilets were assigned to men rather than to women with an assumption that men were likely to be active in taking part in sports events or conventions. However, these codes have been updated recently, equalising the number of toilets for both men and women, as it is also true that women tend to use the toilet for a longer time. These examples portray how architecture evolves with time keeping in mind both the sociological and psychological aspects of humans. 

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”- Winston Churchill.

The above statement holds good, where architecture revolves around the people and shapes itself according to human needs and later, it sets the stage for interior actions and social behaviour, characterised by the regulatory behaviour of architecture. Architecture can bring phenomenal changes which can shape society, and the impacts of architecture will continue to be essential for the improvement and evolution of human lifestyles and civilisations, influencing the everyday life of people and at the same time adapting itself to the urban environment. Architecture contributes to maintaining many of society’s social forms, although not responsible for forming a society entirely.


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TheDigiTeachers. 2021. Classroom Layout: Floor Plan Examples – Updated 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.thedigiteachers.com/classroom-layout/> [Accessed 29 March 2022].

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An architecture student who believes that any space can be turned into a lively environment only when it caters to its user’s needs and is extremely passionate about walking the cities on its journey in becoming sustainable and inclusive for its people.