What is it that we mean when we say ‘the architecture of the city’? What are cities planned to be? Why should we plan anything? When we plan ahead, we perhaps have a goal in mind.
What is this goal, for an architect or an urban designer?
Simply putting it, their goal is to make environments in which man can live in ways better than he could before. Right from the early times, when shelter meant only a roof over ones head, or when taking shelter meant seeking protection inside a cave or getting under the tree cover, man sought to improve his living conditions. He sought shelter that was more comfortable than the one he had before.
From caves and trees, man moved to mud huts and animal skin tents. Constantly striving towards improvisation to suit his changing needs, he has today, shelter in the form of buildings in brick and concrete, that he has termed architecture; gardens and malls where he spends his leisure time, these along with the buildings and the spaces between, he calls urban fabric. There are road networks, that link buildings to each other, buildings to public plazas, that link living areas to work areas, or living areas to educational areas, or living areas to shopping areas.
Man has first fragmented his lifestyle and living spaces, then attempted to join it with roads. What he fragments, often stays fragmented forever. Life for him is still a series of experiences which he sometimes can see as a whole but often not. What was once upon a time harmonious living, is divided up into neat compartments with supposedly greater efficiency. Today, we have intelligent buildings that have automated functions. But, what is the sequence of experiences one can have within these buildings? Does that matter or not at all? Are they experiences that satisfy human nature or is it a contrived environment that is far removed from the real world?
Do experiences generated by this new architecture, by this new urban design, by this new city planning still inspire man to think and to feel? Does it make him grow, or does it strangulate his sense of being?
As an architect or urban designer, must one know all about space and form and structure and nothing about life's experiences, about feeling, about nature? How does an architect or urban designer know about all of life's experiences? Is it...
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... parts. I believe that research into the phenomenon of architectural experience and its possible objectification is the spring board towards a more vibrant and humane built environment. We must know if the design processes we employ are the same as the thought processes we undergo whilst experiencing these urban spaces that we design. We must know, which experiences we enjoy the most, how these experiences come about and if the designer must play a role in making these happen, where must he begin?
For example, in our country ,India, there is a lot that is fragmented and that comes together randomly to form a whole which is so much more rich in nature than a putting together in an orderly fashion, of uniform, standardized parts. The study of the experience of architecture I think is the spring board to the creation of more vibrant and humane environments. We must know if the design processes we employ are the same as the thought processes we undergo whilst experiencing these urban spaces that we design. We must know, which experiences we enjoy the most, and how these experiences come about and if the designer must play a role in making these happen, where must he begin?
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