Architecture as a mirror of the Times

July 26, 2013

Architecture and Design like other forms of human expression are without doubt shaped in response to varied and complex influences like lifestyles, climatic conditions, construction technology, availability of materials, resources etc.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, rightly stated - 'Change is the only constant' -. Hence it is only natural that all these varied forces as they change and evolve over time, they will also exert a pull and push on the Architecture and hence effectively shape it to respond to the need of the times.

For example if you take Traditional architecture, due to constraints of building technology the spans were limited hence we had a fairly modular room size which created its own uniformity and pattern. Restrictions of resources also enforced a kind of discipline in the construction process, which meant majority followed similar patterns & combinations across a particular region.

Traditional Architecture Design
Image Credits: Ananda Beach Home Retreat

Today, with advances in concrete and steel technology the spans are almost unlimited, which has given more freedom to the architect but ironically, in some manner destroyed the modular rhythm that was a by-product of the smaller spans. The window opening for example has extended itself to the limit of destroying the concept of a window, instead becoming a transparent glass wall that dissolves the boundary between the inside and the outside.

Modern Architects

There is an abundance of choice in terms of materials and in a democratic setup, everyone is curious to try out something different, something new.

UB CityAnother clear manifestation of Time and Architecture is the growing awareness of Building Green. It is the need of the hour to reduce consumption of resources and recycle materials. The drive to harness solar power is in response to the inability to meet the requirements with non-renewable resources alone.

Similarly, lifestyles and client aspirations exert a strong influence on Architecture & Design. Today with increased pressure of trying to accomplish the maximum in minimum of time, everything for a client needs to be at the press of a button. Since a building, whether an office or a hotel or an educational institution, is once in a lifetime project for most clients, there is a strong desire to make it outstanding, something unique and so on. Very few want something like what already exists. This expression of individuality also puts pressure at the urban scale where as a result we have a diluted urban character.

All this in turn requires complex structural and service engineering and detailed building design to take care of take requirements like networking, security, automation and so on.

Today's modern society and our lifestyles are far more demanding than yesteryears, so it is natural that the Architectural design should respond appropriately to and also reflect that.

The challenge for today's architect is in arriving at the optimum balance between simplicity & complexity; between creation and destruction; between consumption and conservation; between ourselves and our resources, our environment, lest we are caught in a web of our own making.

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