Architecture has been misunderstood by many as just a building, something which is stagnant “An architect builds a building”; But there is so much depth to architecture, it’s the surroundings that you are enveloped by, it’s the bench that one sits on, the park that one plays in, the pathway that one walks on, and the environment that one chooses to reside in.
As children, we had a fresh outlook towards everything that we see, touched, feel, etc. every bruise that we got due to hitting our bikes on the pavement, every tree that we climbed, and every punishment we received to stand in the corner of a room is imprinted in our minds. As we enter the field of architecture these experiences of textures and perspectives help us vitally in creating a path in our architectural careers.
Architecture is a representation of who we are, our culture, our people, and us. Famous structures all around the world define that particular area the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal of India, etc. define their history, their people, and their culture. These historical structures have been mentioned amply in the architectural lexicons, these, when built, were built without the economic perspective in mind. The perspectives adopted in the old days were grandeur, use, and sometimes the environment and its amalgamation with nature. Today the perspectives are slightly varying we still are striving for a sustainable, economic, beautiful structure but one perspective that is still in common en masse is the “feel good” prospect of a building.
“Architecture is a way of thinking about the world very similar in structure to writing a book since both disciplines represent the same field and domain” – Rem Koolhaas. While designing a building we are rewriting a space that was earlier defined as something else, in a minuscule way we are changing the world which was around that project earlier. This power of defining spaces is something that we learn at architectural schools, but what follows is the particular usage of that building or space which helps cultivate newer perspectives and experiences of the layman.
Lately, the global pandemic has made us sit down in a paradigm of four walls; restricting us from stepping out and coercing us to notice the space we live in. We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us – Winston Churchill. A term known as “neuro-architecture” is being explored widely in the world of architecture today, what it plays around with is the connection between a person’s psychology and how architecture or the space that he surrounds himself with affects him. James Graham Ballard’s “The Thousand Dreams of Bellavista” is a book about a “psychotropic house” that feeds off of the mood and energy of the occupant, if the occupant is disturbed the house echoes this mood through a change in its shape, texture, etc. Thus as the house is changing itself according to the occupant’s mood in the book, in real life the space that we occupy plays a major role in our mental well-being.
Studies and statistics have shown that crime rates and mental health disorders are high in cities as compared to rural areas, yes the population demographic is an undeniable factor here but so is the built environment to be blamed.The1950s Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St Louis, Missouri, whose 33 featureless apartment blocks – designed by Minoru Yamasaki was celebrated at first all around the world by architects for its minimal ground coverage but later this complex was subjected to crimes, social dysfunction, etc. this complex was later demolished in the year 1972.
Today the understanding of what people find stimulating and is to their liking in an urban environment is quite clear due to extensive psychological studies. These studies have been adopted and thus have helped bring down many negative statistics in countries such as Finland, Denmark, and Norway. The crime rates in these cities have been reduced as the prisons are designed as rehabilitation centers and not jails. The change in the design has led to a change in one’s life.
While walking past a blank-cold glass structure your entire energy is at a low and you rush by this structure, but while walking past an area that has graffiti or interesting designs or intricate pathways you tend to slow down and take a notice of the space you are in, this stimulation leads to a sudden alter in one’s mood. In a backyard experiment in which a person drew hopscotch(a children’s game) on a footpath, nine out of ten adults and children couldn’t resist playing the said game while simply walking through that street. Hence, proving that a simple design drawn can alter a person’s mood then imagine the extent to which architecture could bring change in our day-to-day lives.