“Space is the breath of art” – Frank Lloyd Wright.

Every piece of art that is created defines space in its own way. This element of art gives a direction for defining the artwork that varies with its relation to the viewer. Likewise, in architecture, ranging from the most basic need for shelter to creating abstract masterpieces, the perception of the built environment is unique to everyone largely depending on one’s understanding of space, knowledge, experience, emotion, and much more. 

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Nursing home in Alcácer do Sal, Portugal, by studio Aires Mateus Arquitectos. | Punctured façade with checkboard pattern, demonstrating negative and positive space_©Fernando Guerra

As an outsider to the industry, understanding the role of a built environment is limited to merely aesthetics and the comfort of the space up to an extent. But the effects and the vision of the built structure is far beyond that. Educating oneself and acquiring knowledge about the study of architecture unfolds so many more aspects of the built and unbuilt that defines the society we live in. Understanding architecture is finding the perfect balance between abstract and real, art and science, and passion and business. Beneath the limitations of engineering and economy, the abstraction of design in terms of light, texture, color, form, function, and feel, rises to create an artful science. 

“Nobody can escape architecture and its effects.” – Günter Hertel.

Unique among creative and technical professions, architecture is ever-changing yet timeless. It defines the era by echoing economic and cultural beliefs. Adding the complexity of design, understanding, and delivering detail from a micro to a macro landscape, architecture starts to shape society with a deep and rich set of values. This in turn characterizes and determines how people are involved with each other and experience the cultural context that is produced. 

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Unequal Scenes: The area surrounding the Bandra Kurla complex is a mixture of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, including the consulate generals of several countries, corporate headquarters, and the National Stock Exchange_©Johnny Miller

Hence, the study of architecture diversifies one’s outlook with a detailed apprehension of broader skill sets. This casts light on the responsibility of an architect as a social designer for problem-solving. Keeping up with the constant change and yet preserving the cities as healthy as sustainable places to dwell, architects are pushed to address the evolving demands by constructing to satisfy the modern day. 

“Architecture school teaches you to take a pile of data and information and interpret it to inform how to design a building or solve a problem,” writes Michael Riscica in Young Architect.

Our memories are created by the quality of space and the activity of the people that surround us. ‘Reading between the lines’ in literature expresses finding the meaning of the unsaid or something that isn’t said outright. In art history and 3-dimensional space, this conceptualizes as a negative space which is the breathing pockets that positively fill the gap between the built environments. These are the spaces that not only bring people together but also hold and tie the community into a close-knit. Considering the chain of mobilizing – the roads, transport hubs, and public gathering spaces , they impact the society at large culturally, emotionally, and socially adding a deeper democratic value.  

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View of social gathering in Central Park | Green sprawl enclosed by the concrete skyline of New York_©Vruti Desai

“Architecture is about public space held by buildings.” – Richard Rogers .

Public and Community spaces are intricate, sophisticated places in an architectural context. Architects and urban designers, with their expertise and understanding of the city, derive design decisions to define these complex spaces to add vitality that attracts and encourages healthy public gatherings. Central Park , in my perspective, is an excellent example showcasing the enclosure of open space between the high-rise steel giants surrounding it. The bustling cityscape and civil order of New York City demanded a sprawl of green for public recreational activities . Central Park today is beyond just a regular “common ground” for people. The design and construction of the park is an aggregator of people diversifying its uses and expanding social involvement. This creates an emotional aspect in the lives of the people, making it feel like home. 

Focusing on the High-rise steel giants, the concept of shelter is the most understood term, but the urgency of increasing the number of shelters is highly driven by overpopulated cities and urbanization. Building vertically becomes mandatory when there is no scope for lateral expansion. What people do not understand from the outside is that a skyscraper is beyond just unbeatable views and a pretty landscape. The enormous scale of tall buildings and their exerted significance bring about a drastic change in the fabric of the city, reshaping its skyline and symbolizing the economic and technical advancement of a country. It maximizes land use and can be a great option for green buildings. But one must also understand the multiple layers of decision-making that a high-rise goes through in order to meet the social, economic, and environmental challenges that come along with it. 

High Tech Buildings of Marina Bay in Dubai, with a central public space_©Vruti Desai

Since we understand how a space reflects human life, we must agree with the fact that architecture and design engineering have the power to create a long-lasting impact on the environment. As a social designer, one must be able to take criticism when a structure is poorly designed or executed. The ability to receive unpleasant feedback on a crucial piece of work, subjective in nature, is a factor not to be neglected. Understanding deeper into how a built structure changes or influences one’s perspective, we realize that there is no one-size-fits approach in architecture. It must change and evolve to adapt to the requirements of its site and context. This is achieved by re-visiting the past and researching to create modern and flexible concepts to propose a better future. The imagination and the ability to think creatively to deliver efficient outcomes, support communities, and enhance everyday human activities are the key roles of an architect.

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us” – Sir Winston Churchill

Concluding with the very famous quote that emphasizes the vision and responsibility of a conscious designer, encouraging one to explore and understand different aspects of architecture with a broader approach and an open mind.

References: 

  1. All About Architecture   : July 31, 2018 Publication

https://medium.com/@AAA_Publication/what-is-architecture-1b52f5339c2a

  1. Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat of the 21st Century: A Global Perspective

by Mir M. Ali 1 and Kheir Al-Kodmany 

  • School of Architecture, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
  • Urban Planning and Policy Department, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
  1. The Element of Space in Artistic Media : Exploring the Spaces Between and Within Us\

By Shelley Esaak

https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-space-in-art-182464#:~:text=Using%20Space%20in%20Art,every%20piece%20of%20art%20created .

  1. Tall buildings past and present trends by Aurecom 

Peter Ayres

Managing Director, Built Environment – Asia

https://www.aurecongroup.com/thinking/thinking-papers/tall-buildings-past-and-present-trends

  1. Study Architecture 

Why Architecture is Important

Jan 14, 2019/in Architecture News /by Amanda Gann

https://studyarchitecture.com/blog/architecture-news/why-architecture-is-important/

Author

Vruti Desai is an architect and a designer based in Mumbai with a master’s degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute in New York. Being a multi-disciplinary artist, designing signature spaces and creatively expressing narrative experiences that enhance everyday human activity was an ideal way to combine these interests.

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