Architecture and travel go together. Architects are creative; hence, there is a constant hunger for a source of inspiration. Architecture is also a ‘profession of travellers’, knowing about random things all over the globe. A place becomes notable or worthy of visiting, because of its architecture. There are numerous reasons why travelling is one of the top priorities of architects.
1. Visual learning and experiencing.
Every city and country has its quirk. Architects work on a variety of projects with different briefs. Visual learning has the utmost importance in an architect’s life. Even the tiniest of detail or even a vague notion could help build the next project. It leads to exponential growth in one’s knowledge and the capacity to solve problems with real-life situations as examples. After all, architects are anthropologists too.
Drawing parallels between similarities and differences we observe during travelling helps build inferences. Observation doesn’t just count aesthetics, but also quality and feel of the space. Some questions like what is the structural composition of the building? Is building sustainable? How are people interacting with the structure? Does the building sit well with the street fabric, or stands out?; could only be answered when one visits the place.
2. Understanding real-life examples
Architects go through a tenuous course of 5 years understanding theory and reading textbooks. Our comprehension depends on individual perception, to realize the power of design firsthand. It is different from what we study about, to be surrounded by a space. We then recognize the intention and symbolism of the architect’s work. Architects then draw upon these core values and bring them into their projects. Travelling is also a great exercise to hone observation skills. Changing landscapes, transition spaces from the interior to the exterior and vice versa are some examples. The objective is to understand the psyche of the designer, their unique and varied way of thinking. Some could even stumble upon new research topics.
3. The detachment of the comfort zone
Travelling helps expand horizons. It gives us varied ideas on how to approach a design problem. Some results can be astounding. There is no one answer to a question, and to visit places to understand different perceptions can be enlightening. There are many aspects to consider when designing a building. It can be material palettes, construction techniques or interior details.
Traveling also extends the boundaries of personalization. Every architect adds a personal touch in their projects, something which they do intentionally or subconsciously. It also makes architects more receptive to their environment. Every location has something new to contribute to the subconscious.
Architecture, as a career, can be lonesome. With long working hours and continual commitment, there can be minimal time; for meaningful conversations. Travelling helps create new acquaintances and memories. It creates an environment away from the hustle-bustle of routine life. Meeting people of varied interests create sensitivity to choices and ultimately, architecture. People accumulate a plethora of stories to remember and share ahead, creating a community. Travelling is also a relaxing and rejuvenating exercise. It freshens perspectives and gives a chance to broaden the mind.
5. Understanding the rural-urban fabric
When we walk through the streets, we mingle with the masses and notice the intricacies of design. We appreciate different transition spaces, streetscapes, landscape, unbuilt and built structures. When I visited Pisa, one could see small make-shift markets lined up with wares outside the Leaning Tower compound. Clothes, snacks and souvenirs, one could see how people interacted with the place. The number of tourists visiting a monument is crucial for the shopkeepers daily livelihood. Travelling helps one understand significant aspects like these.
Most cities have a defined centre, which radially expands to the suburbs, classified as urban. Suburbs have more residential properties, while the centre is more commercial. Travel aids such observations, not just in the urban scenario, but rural as well. These experiences humble us down and make us understand our place in the world.
6. The destination doesn’t matter
A small evening stroll, around the block, or to a nearby park or market could also be an enlivening episode. From Rajputana palaces and forts to Gothic cathedrals, architecture is all around us. There is so much to explore and encounter, to find beauty and comfort in places unseen. Secondary activities like sketching and photography could be coupled with travel, increasing these skills exponentially. Many architects have travel journals loaded with collectables like stamps, postcards and other souvenirs with art.
The location alone isn’t most important, but adjoining factors like public transit systems, roadways and pathways, places of interest nearby, educational and medical facilities in the vicinity are equally crucial to know. Travelling helps us experience different climatic zones, how residents survive to unique living conditions. Iceland experiences sunlight for only about two months.
The importance of travel is second to none for an architect. It helps them broaden their minds, educate themselves about the world and most importantly create reminiscences and acquaintances.