Theory of Architecture

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About this sample


Words: 1192 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Nov 26, 2019

Words: 1192|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Nov 26, 2019

The author says that ‘the purpose of architecture is to design buildings’ is an unsatisfactory definition. Why does he say so? In that case, what is he suggesting as the real purpose of architecture? Explain. ‘The purpose of architecture is to design buildings’ is not only an unsatisfactory definition but is also an understatement. . “It is probably fair to say that the matters of the definition and the purpose of architecture have never been settled. These are issues about which there is a great deal of confusion and debate which is strange considering the human activity is literally older than pyramids”(Unwin, 2014).

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Architecture has evolved over centuries, started as shelter and protection from the surrounding, it is now sensibility, communication, functionality and representation of ideas. It has more significance and is more meaningful as it’s a part of one’s daily life. It serves different types of branches according to the need and desire of the users. It is an intellectual work of art and is not confined to solitary abstraction but rather has definite meaning and purpose. “One cannot contradict this definition, but it does not help very much either; in a way it actually diminishes one’s conception of architecture, by limiting it to ‘design of buildings’. Although it is not necessary to do so, one tends to think of buildings as object (like a vase, or a cigarette lighter) and architecture involves more than the design of objects” (Unwin, 2014). No doubt design is an important part of architecture but there’s a lot more to it that is insightful. As design can be a thought, idea, experience or even just a feeling. So saying that architecture is ‘design of objects’ is yet another vague definition and is also considered as a misconception as it limits the thinking of the people. “Here, the architecture of a building, group of buildings, a city, a garden…. is considered to be its conceptual organization, it’s intellectual structure.

This is a definition of architecture which is applicable to all kinds of examples, from simple rustic buildings to formal urban settings” (Unwin, 2014). To ask an architect ‘what is architecture? ’ is probably the most difficult as well as the most basic question. As the answer to this philosophical question not only requires different perspectives of people for a definitive answer but also requires intellectual exploration. In the primeval past, as the author mentions, how the human was introduced to architecture. It was completely based on the human needs such as privacy, protection and so on. Overtime it has gained different meanings that are relevant to the variety of purposes. It is something that has been practiced over the years, every architect had a different point of view and what architecture means to them. “The idea that identification of place lies at generative core of architecture can be explored and illustrated further. In doing this one can think architecture, not as a language, but being in some ways like one” (Unwin, 2014). The author mentions that architecture can definitely be a form of language that expresses the ideas, skills and creativity of an architect or even the person who utilizes that space and design can be a combination of elements to form a vocabulary. The exchange of ideas among the architects is also because they have an understanding of architecture as a language. “Perhaps most important, thinking of architecture as identification of place accommodates the idea that architecture is participated in by more than the individual” (Unwin, 2014). The author has compared architecture to different forms of art like music, paintings and sculptures. All these are art pieces that have been produced by someone but in architecture it takes more than one person’s effort to bring work together. This initiates team work and encourages the people to interact with each other. Traditional architecture followed the basic places of a house as mentioned but with the innovation of having a form, walls and a roof, being identified as a house. The differences in the styles lead to the introduction of vernacular architecture. “At its fundamental level architecture does not deal in abstractions, but with life, as it is lived, and it’s fundamental power is to identify space” (Unwin, 2014). the author states how a building could just be a three dimensional composition of spaces if it had no use or a specific function. The space is lived and experienced by the users which not only brings life to the space but also has architectural significance according to its functions.

The function of the space provides definition. It is also important to have good circulation and take privacy into consideration as these are some important factors that determine purposeful architecture. Architecture is not only hard to explain but its also hard to understand. It takes creativity, skills and an intellectual mindset to understand the objective of the outcome. The author mentions that there are certain conditions that are taken into consideration that are physical and intellectual. Depending on the user, the conditions can be high and low. There are no specific constraints that are constant in architecture. The default conditions that every architect considers while designing are gravity, sound, privacy, light, sky and so on. It is a way of solving problems, a source of solution. It is a unique form of art as compared to painting, music or sculptures because it incorporates life. The use and the user of the space are a major component as they identify the place and add life to it. The work and the essence of other forms of art tends to remain unseen sometimes as the viewer cannot experience the art piece unless a background or a brief introduction is provided to the viewer to understand the value of the art piece. But as for architecture it only takes a glance to describe how the viewer feels about the space. Hence, visitor experience is a feedback for the architect to understand the perception of their work. The language of architecture plays a vital role in distinguishing the style of architects and purpose of the building. The beauty lies within the differences of styles. In architecture the essence of art is proclaimed in different ways through different senses. It could diverge from one person to another as every person has an independent choice and a different idea of beauty. Perspectives of a variety of people could lead to a variety of solutions and ideas. Though architecture is a vast field with a complex framework it deals with human nature and physical factors unlike any other type of art work.

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The author talks about architecture as an adventure which comprises existence and constraints. To conclude, architecture is a lot more than just building and designing. It can be molded into anything and can be made possible to humanity. It can reflect one’s presentiment, culture, style and experience. Simon Unwin compares architecture in different ways to different genres, generations and manners in his first chapter ‘analysing architecture’. He answered the questions that may seem basic but are complex to expound. He lights the significance of the evolving architecture and refers it to an adventure.

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Theory of Architecture. (2019, November 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“Theory of Architecture.” GradesFixer, 26 Nov. 2019,
Theory of Architecture. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
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