Friday, 27 March 2015

Architecture is...


According to the Dictionary,  the definition of Architecture is,

Architecture (noun)
  • The profession of designing buildings, open areas, communities, and other artificial construction environments, usually with some regard to aesthetic effect.  Architecture often includes design or selection of furnishings and decorations, supervision of construction work, and the examination, restoration, or re-modelling of existing buildings.
  • The character or style of a building
  • The action or process of building; construction
  • The result or product of architectural work, as a building
  • Buildings collectively
  • A fundamental underlying design of computer hardware, software, or both
  • The structure of anything, e.g. the architecture of a novel
which was obviously written by a non-architect.

There's a lot more to it than that.  Having to explain Architecture to a class of 10 year olds, I really need a single line definition which sparks the imagination.  Our sequence of workshops helps to create a feel for the profession:
  • Imagining ideas to address design requirements
  • Investigating design with structures, drawing, materials and models
  • Creating exciting, meaningful and responsive environments
  • Building at full scale
Architecture is involved with everything in our lives, our societies and our existence as humans.  Eva Jirikna points this out.  

As Architects, our working relationships with others is key.  Jan Knippers noted that historically Engineers were referred to as a 'clever person' and Architects as 'someone who knows how to put it together'.   Architects like to think of themselves as designers / creators.  In practice, coordination plays a big part of day to day work.  Architects usually work with Structural and Service Engineers and Cost Consultants, but there's a set of skills involved which can just as easily be used with other specialists to be innovative with different kinds of projects.  

Anthony Hudson refers to the importance of having an open mind in his book of his work.

Sophie Abrahams' web site Architecture Is sets out to convey the diverse nature of this subject with a patchwork of definitions which combining to illustrate the aubject.

Many people don't really know what an Architect does.  I've heard someone saying 'an Architect is a kind of Surveyor'.  And several architects are not completely sure what an Architect does either.

In college we came to the conclusion that Architectural education was a process of stripping away everything we thought we knew about the world, until we knew absolutely nothing about everything.  It sounds contradictory to a learning process but there is a balance and potentially sensitive understanding to an approach to the world as a result.

Architecture is an activity which involves just about everything, either in terms of design approach or coordination.  For me, the key areas of activity might be boiled down to:
  • Ontological and metaphysical references  
  • Spacial design 
  • Technical coordination of structural, environmental and budget requirements
  • Social responsibility
  • Innovation, experimentation and influence of change
  • Practicalities of prefabrication, construction and logistics 
  • Joy 
So, when I'm working with a class of 10 year olds, and they ask what Architecture is, the answer I give is 'lets experiment and find out...'

Let me know if I've missed anything out.  Architecture is a very fluid subject.  Your comments welcome.


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