Architecture started with a need for a purpose for human beings to survive. The buildings, roads, bridges, and cities are for its people only. There would have been none of this if there were no human beings on the planet. How long do you think our buildings will remain intact if all humans disappear from the face of the earth suddenly one day? As much as humans need architecture, architecture also needs humans. Who will build it? Who will ideate? Who will use & maintain it? Who will serve the ultimate purpose architecture came into existence for? 

Architecture is not just an image, it is creating space and that space gets lived inside out by an extensive user group. Regardless of the style or aesthetic the greatest impact architecture has is the way it frames and impacts our everyday lives, our routines, and little things that we do several times a day. Architecture can bring joy to those things, but even if not precisely joy, it can make us feel comfortable in the act rather than having a feeling of friction.

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People and space_©Together Alone by Bless Yee

“If nature had been comfortable, mankind would have never intended architecture.” – Oscar Wilde

The modernist Polish artists Katarzyna Kobro and Vladislaw Strzeminski wrote these 2 points in 1931 :

The aim of architecture is an organization of the rhythm of consecutive motions and stops, thereby forming  the whole of life, and

The final goal of architecture is not the building of convenient houses; it is also not the blowing up of abstract sculptures and calling them exhibition pavilions. Its aim is: to be a regulator of the rhythm of social and individual life.

The Evolution of Architecture with Humans

The beginnings of Architecture take us back to Paleolithic times. Humans in the Stone Age sought shelter and used the comfort of cave dwellings to fulfill their needs. But as their habits of livelihood shifted from hunters to cultivators, cave dwellings were replaced with hutments made of fibrous material found nearby the settlements. Later on, civilizations came into existence to accommodate the increasing population and human needs. As people put down roots, they started building more ambitious structures and gathering in greater numbers. This brought up the first cities and what would later be termed the built environment.

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Ancient hive city_©archdaily.com

All the other species except humans have an inbuilt instinct. But for humanity, instinct is inadequate. The evolution of shelter for humans started with the basic principle same as that of a bird’s nest and kept transforming as their understanding of building their shelters increased. But human construction must resist gravity, shield against weather, fit its site and be buildable, or it fails at its key directive.  Having a sense of home, as we understand it today, is a product of symbolic thinking, a capacity that makes us unique among animals, including our own ancestors (Tattersall, 2013). 

“Architecture is the frame of human existence.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

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Rock shelter_©Survival world

For human-centered architecture, in the later years, the shelter went beyond survival. The value of architecture started to be perceived as something beyond the essential outcomes of protection. These outcomes are beyond the needs accommodated by any construction. The difference between outcome and motivation exists nowhere else but in the human eye and mind. 

In extreme conditions, a human can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Our bodies have five essential requirements: air, food, water, sleep, and shelter. However, it is of great importance to consider not only the presence of these five factors but their quality as well. The quality of the build space is equally essential and has a huge role to play in human behavior.

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Underground city near Tungkwan (China)_©theatlantic.com

Human habits would have been similar to those of animals if they had no shelter to protect themselves. But that’s what differentiates humans from other species. Isn’t it? For survival, the evolution of the shelter was necessary and it was the starting of all human architecture we know today. From shelters to temples, institutions, and public spaces, the human need for architecture kept growing. This also resulted in the forming of religion and social class, implying the impact and importance of architecture in our lives.

Conclusively, humans impact their environment and vice-versa. An alteration in these parameters that makes this work will lead to the disintegration of the whole system. Architecture is growing endlessly to fit human needs and in a way that sustains the world. It is more sensitized towards the world more than ever. As evident from history, humans learn & apply new lifestyles with new thoughts learning to the next step of evolution. Buildings are a product of their time and place. The Architecture will keep on impacting & altering human habits, activities, and lifestyles and vice-versa. A world without architecture is unimaginable. Architecture is our faith, religion & identity. Architecture is human. As long as there are human beings and their challenges, there will be architecture. (Bouman, 2021). 

City Psychology_©Alamy stock photo

References: 

  1. Dickinson, D., 2022. Architecture is Human: But Beauty is Found Everywhere.  ArchDaily. 
  2. Tattersall, I., 2013. In Search of the First Human Home. [online] Nautilus | Science Connected. 
  3. Khan Academy. 2015. Gallery: How Did the First Humans Live?
  4. Diaz, L., 2016. How can architecture better the life of humanity?
  5. Santevia. 2020. 5 Basic Needs to Survive and Thrive. 
  6. Lorek Sarah, 2018, Constructible.trimble.com. (n.d.). Ancient Architecture and the Human Need to Construct. 
Author

Riya is a final-year architecture student passionate about architectural design, and its impact on humans and around the world. She loves to plan things and seeing them come to life makes her extremely gratified. What's more, she strongly believes in the power of words and experiences.

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