Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sandy Liao - What Is Architecture?

Before coming to USC, I understood architecture to be the designing of buildings. In a way, I understood it to be art at a larger scale. I saw architecture as easily discerned from other structures because it was never mundane. Instead, it was symbolic of whomever or whatever resided within- a self-expression.

What I didn’t understand then is that architecture is more than just an art. In fact, a building can be architecture even if it looks like a typical housing structure. The term architecture is used to convey a structure that a designer has given expression to. The symbolism can be felt in the procession or the layout of the spaces to become smooth and flowing. A good space is created when it lends ease to the users. The expression can also be shown through visual symbolism, meaning the style of the structure, both inside and out.
While the initial appearance of a Frank Gehry structure may differ from that of a Le Corbusier, the rules are similar. Firstly, it requires a vast knowledge about society. Architects need to know about their clients, and their clients can come from any number of backgrounds. The architect can create a more usable space if they understand more about how their clients’ habits. Secondly, it requires an adaptable mindset, which most architects exhibit. The architect is in charge of design, but also in a position to convince a client or builder to do things for a better outcome. Therefore, an architect must be able to alter designs to suit the location, and change minds to please everyone. Having a good head for construction, building media, and locations can also make things easier.
Now, having been in studio for almost five years, I see architecture is more than just design, or pretty pictures come to life. It is the combination of both design and human lifestyle, with the design becoming a symbol of the idea, and the lifestyle reflected in the procession through the space. Architecture requires a wide array of people types to come together to create something everyone can enjoy. It is sensual in that it is tangible, visual, and everything else sensory. Similar to the gothic cathedrals created by craftsmen long ago, architecture has the embedded human element to it other types of construction lack. It is constructed to fit a purpose, and sculpted to become a symbol of that purpose.

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