What Is Architecture?

The word “architecture” can mean many different things to different people. The layman may simply define architecture based on its final product and will merely say that it is houses, skyscrapers and a newly renovated kitchen. Someone may view architecture as the word that describes an architect’s professional practice. Others may refer to architecture as the architect’s style of work at the macro level and the kind of furniture pieces he chooses that distinctly make each design his own at the micro-level.

Actually, all these definitions are correct since architecture these days has come to signify the structures that have resulted from an architect’s work, the practice of a career and an architect’s distinct work style. Other architects may even look at architecture in more profound ways. For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect said that the term doesn’t refer to the buildings. Rather, he said, “…. I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit….”

For students seeking to learn more about architecture, however, a simpler and more direct explanation will do. Architecture is the art and science of building planning, design and construction. It covers both indoor and outdoor spaces and the design of the simplest room to that of multi-level complexes and multifunctional spaces. Architecture does not only concern itself with the making of spaces that would be functional and durable. Rather, architects are also taught to design each space in such a manner that it is also aesthetically pleasing to the eye and promote health and wellness to its occupants. Ergonomically-designed spaces do a great deal towards achieving the latter.

Aside from the actual design and planning of buildings or homes, architecture is also concerned with the practical aspects of constructing these buildings. Thus, it also includes estimating the cost and materials needed, the number of people necessary to complete the project within a given time frame and other details necessary for the construction of the structure.

“Form follows function” was the overriding theme of architecture in the 19th century. Today, the concept of sustainability has been added to the criteria of what makes good architecture. Sustainable architecture basically entails using building materials that are environmentally-friendly. It also factors in energy efficiency in the building design and as such, the use of solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy sources to provide the occupants with the power they need to carry out their day-to-day activities. Sustainable architecture also promotes such practical approaches as proper insulation of a building to prevent energy drains from the structure. An increasing number of building owners now want their architectural structures to be environmentally-friendly and sustainable in spite of the larger upfront cost because in the long-run, a design that’s ecologically friendly is a win-win solution for everyone.

Career Spotlight: Architect

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