Architecture is a frozen form of expression. A complicated interlacing of ideas, functions, concepts, likes and dislikes and more importantly someone’s dream that gets etched on the surface of the earth, forever. History, references, documentaries, stories, films, archaeological excavations, ruins, and manuscripts give us enough evidence in the form of visual, written and verbal communication about architecture. This documentation greatly helps us to discover the rich architectural legacy and eventually adds on to our knowledge of this art.
Great architects and their philosophies with their magnanimous works have been documented in the form of few mediums, so far, books being the prime source of this information. Nowadays, though, due to the rising popularity of social media, these works are also being shared on various visual and written platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, architectural and interior design magazines, journals, so that the profession and the ideology behind it, hogs a bit more limelight.
But, eventually, all this stays within the architectural fraternity and never reaches out to the crowd. Ultimately, the majority of the people out there are not aware of architecture as a profession or as an expression, and perceive it as merely buildings. The concept of the urban fabric and its design could be someone’s vision or someone’s idea of transforming a space into giving a better experiential quality always has been taking a backseat and is more successful in raising questions rather than putting forth the need and foresight behind it. Thus, putting all these concerns in a right and simple way for the non-architectural crowd to understand, becomes the duty of an architect.
So, coming back to communications, I can say that it has always been the invisible base of life. Right from birth or even before, one starts giving signals or to put in other words, starts communicating in one way or the other, to express something that is in the mind. Architecture is not different! And it is a field involving making spaces for other people, trying to convert a client’s dream into a reality, exactly matching the dream and making it even more beautiful, becomes a humungous task.
To communicate the ideas and inspirations to a myriad of people around is an overwhelming mission. Primarily, translating these ideas into 4 types of communication methods like Verbal, Non-Verbal, Written and Visual Communication is crucial. This information has to be conveyed to people in different formats for the ones in front of us.
1. Initial discussions, usually verbal communication of exchanging ideas with the client manifest into visual communication through 3D views and trying to visualize the space and the building after it’s built. Typically, a method of understanding the client’s requirements and having a verbal and visual dialogue that results in presenting what looks best for the client.
2. The 3Ds and ideas get converted into drawings – purely non-verbal and visual communication for the contractor and tender-er to understand what needs to be built and how.
3. The drawings, when on-site, again materialize into verbal communication while trying to explain to the workers and getting it built on the site.
Boiling down to the crux of architectural communication, the visual language is most important, since after completion it is the one that stands ground and becomes a statement permanently. It communicates the ideas, the concept and the manifestation in one single form beautifully and in harmony. Hence, architecture can aptly be called as A Frozen Form of Expression.
To further break down the theory of communication for architecture, the way in which visual communication acts is extremely interesting and creative. It starts from doodling characters, lines, forms and scribbling notes that define the ideas and slowly transform into something methodical, disciplined and organized set of drawings, 3D views, and specifications that ultimately define the real structure. So, visual communication becomes a connection between the architect, client and the people who are constructing the building and this thread also binds the people who are experiencing the spaces within as well as the ones who brush past it.
Being from the same field and taught under the same pool of perspectives, the architectural fraternity is well versed with these languages and how to put forth in front of each other. But when it comes to reaching out to people, the majority out there, who don’t know what architecture is and what architects do, communication plays an even more of a vital role. To make them aware of what this profession is, what it demands, what it delivers and how it matters in today’s times is crucial. The lack of knowledge regarding good architectural content and unawareness in the media leads to a major setback in the industry. Even if there are magazines, novels, journals and films that provide architectural information falling underwritten and visual communication, the architectural language and its enigma don’t reach out to the masses as much as it should, as compared to other professions.
Being a visual medium of subjectivity and aesthetics, people form opinions and judgments of what architecture is and very sadly, it is way far off from reality. In today’s scenario, thus, it has become of utmost importance that journalists from architectural backgrounds choose the form of written communication to project out the right knowledge and awareness of design, its necessity, its functionality, and its aesthetics incorrect language and words. We are bombarded with visuals on a large scale these days which just feed onto the uppermost layer of appreciation of this art but never delves further within and that’s where we as learned professionals come into the picture for creating a realistic content of the same.
By inserting content in the form of captions and text below a certain image, we, as architects and a crowd aware of the authenticity, can start our own small contribution towards building the right perspective and knowledge and project it outside. Yes, nowadays, this step is being taken by people through architectural photography, journalism, small group talks and on social media platforms and slowly we are inching towards creating this awareness amongst our clients and eventually everyone. So let’s gather together and join hands in this mission towards making architecture a beautiful and widely talked about the profession, not for its glamour but for its depth, magnanimity, and philosophy.