The article talks about how and why being architecturally literate alters your perception of various structures through multiple examples. Examples include the perceptions of laypeople and architectural enthusiasts viewing monuments, skyscrapers etc.  With the help of correct architectural knowledge, one can contribute to making society a better place.

Every artist tries to convey a message or an emotion through their art, knowing that it might not get conveyed to the viewers rightfully. Every form of art gives a message, but the received message depends upon the viewer. Interpreting any subject depends upon the amount and type of knowledge the viewer possesses. Knowledge shapes a person’s perception and also their perspective. For example, the artist’s drawing skills alone would be enough to leave a layperson spellbound. Sometimes even Hussain’s monochromatic single strokes and sense of anguish in Horses would not be enough to leave an art literate spellbound.

What does it mean to have architectural literacy - Sheet1
M. F. Hussain’s Horses_©: Sothebys

Architecture is also an art where an architect or landscape designer or urban designer or any other related professional is the artist. Studying and understanding the art of architecture, either at university or just by reading about it as a hobby, changes one’s perspective about spaces and the form of a structure to the core. Before acquiring architectural knowledge, one might find The Shard in London from a distance as the tallest skyscraper in the metropolitan and would be fascinated by its glass form. But after acquiring the needed knowledge, the same person would realize how its scale and volume overshadow structures of greater historical significance. Before driving to an architectural school one might curse and blame people for the traffic jam on the roads of a metropolitan but it is after walking out of an architectural school that one realizes the same traffic congestions are consequences of ill-planned and maintained public & transportation infrastructure and urban amenities. After learning through various studio exercises, case studies, site visits, lectures, etc one’s brain automatically analyzes the space and gives it a makeover if necessary or makes points of inference in their mind as soon as they walk through a new door.

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The Shard, London with the London Bridge in its periphery _©sellar

To elaborate, an architectural amateur would visit Red Fort in New Delhi either to spend a good time with loved ones or to click pictures and selfies containing the popular monument. Whereas an architectural enthusiast would want to visit it for admiring hand-done inscriptions and moldings on the wall and when once there, they would not be able to stop thinking about its social and economic significance during the Mughal era. Even after coming back home, they would not be able to stop themselves from thinking about the construction details of various arches and weathering of the red stone. Similarly, in Pisa, majority of tourists ignore or avoid the Baptistry of St. John for getting the famous picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa sooner. Whereas it might be just a group of structural enthusiasts who would visit the engineering marvel, the Baptistry of St. John for experiencing its rich reverberation quality of sound.

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Image showcasing weathered red sandstones of Red Fort in New Delhi _©:

Joseph Allen Stein, through the Indian Habitat Center, New Delhi altered people’s opinions and made them believe it was possible to find peace even when surrounded by concrete structures. Taking into consideration the recent example of restoration of a 400 year old trading centre in North India. With the joint effort of Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC) and Delhi’s Public Works Department (PWD), Chandni Chowk has got a new look which not only enhances stakeholders’ experience through wider roads but also their safety by removing dirty mesh of overhead electrical wires. Hence, it would be fair to say that appropriate architectural features in one of the oldest markets have proved to alter people’s perception about eating and shopping in the streets of Old Delhi. These and numerous other examples prove the fact that architects and related professionals have the power to change one’s perspective about certain things or activities through their structures.

What does it mean to have architectural literacy - Sheet4
Image showcasing courtyard of Indian Habitat Center in New Delhi_©:AF1QipOhQ0NxUWioxAkP9T0VCm_0sRYvn-kY5nogzVlb=w1080-k-no
Image showcasing before and after renovation at Chandini Chowk, New Delhi on left and right respectively _©

Gaining architectural knowledge might make one hate the structure they were in love with earlier. It happens because one questions if the space functions in the same way the architect envisioned or if the structure can not function completely without HVAC or if the architect innovatively incorporated vernacular methods using modern techniques or if the structure enhances its user experiences. In the 21st century, the construction industry is responsible for causing 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill waste. These percentages demand architects to give utmost importance to passive strategy, vernacular methods and contextual styles while designing structures. And also to impart needful architectural knowledge to users (layperson). With knowledge, users demanding imported Italian marble for kitchens in Jaipur would understand how their need contributes to leaving tons of carbon footprints and choose native Makrana marble as an alternative.


  1. Leewardists. (2022). what people don’t know about architecture part 2 [Instagram Post]. 19 May 2022 posted. Available from: . [Accessed 23 June 2022].
  2. Borson, B., 2022. Perspective – do you have it | Life of an Architect . [online] Life of an Architect Available at: [Accessed 23 June 2022].
  3. Archdesk. 2022. How Does Construction Affect The Environment?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 2022].
  4. ThePrint. (2021). Delhi’s Chandni Chowk gets new look, a restoration of not just facade but 400-yr-old legacy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 2022].

Ujjwal is a design enthusiast who is currently studying to be an architect. He is passionate about researching, exploring, documenting and writing about various fields of art, architecture and design.

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