What is Architecture and Why we need it?

The Britannica Encyclopedia offers a good explanation about Architecture; the art and technique of designing and building, as distinguished from the skills associated with construction. The practice of architecture is employed to fulfill both practical and expressive requirements, and thus it serves both utilitarian and aesthetic ends. Although these two ends may be distinguished, they cannot be separated, and the relative weight given to each can vary widely.

Every society—whether highly developed or less so, settled or nomadic—has a spatial relationship to the natural world and to other societies, the structures they produce reveal much about their environment (including climate and weather), history, ceremonies, and artistic sensibility, as well as many aspects of daily life.

Therefore, Architecture, addresses the deep interconnection of Socio-Cultural, Economic and Natural demands and needs of the built environment, it becomes the core scientific subject a wide value towards all domains ranging from a small house to global/regional urban planning. The “Architect” is the only personnel who has a qualitative knowledge of the above subject called “Architecture”. Of course, this is reflected within subject modules and syllabuses of RIBA accredited architecture schools which includes UOM and CSA.

In the current context, there seems to be a trend of thinking that architecture and architects are just artists and their service is only needed for a certain class of people in the society. This is a point which has to be discussed vigorously. This ideology shall be challenged not only because of the profession, but also because of the national need.

Imagine there is a requirement of placing a factory on a less efficient paddy field. As everyone knows, the consequences of placing the same will create threats to the environment (Destruction of Marsh that is crucial for storm water drainage, waste, etc.), social issues (issues that maybe related to a certain work class such as farmers), while economically it may be justified with proper rationales. At this point, there are certain regulations that keeps such projects away. However, such regulations also do have bottlenecks which would allow projects to be approved in said locations. The point is, we can blind the eye of the law, but, we cannot blind the eye of natural law.

For a lay person, building up a factory may seem to be an easy task physically, where it’s only an assembly of steel or other materials without no significant spatial planning. So, what will happen to the environmental and social threats that described above if not addressed properly before building the facility?. This is the prime scenario of current haphazard development. We find solutions after creating the issue. The garbage issue we face daily is a good example of this “Unplanned” development.

So what happens if we have paid attention to all externalities related to the project at the planning stage? Then, we would be able to find solutions and implement them during construction. This means, there should be an expert who has a technical and aesthetic coherence of the subject of built environment. This person is no one else and he is the Architect. The architect plays a crucial role within built environment studying the backgrounds relating to a project.

Lets get back to our example. If this project, the factory is to be designed by an architect, the first thing he would do is performing a preliminary feasibility study of the project with his expertise and knowledge. His study would reveal the above mentioned issues with an analytical model called “SWOT analysis”. The findings of SWOT will ultimately allow the architect to come up with a good rationale and design concept, while educating the client about its benefits, challenges, etc. Then, the architect further will define solutions that are available and the expertise (Environment Engineers, Planners, etc) that is needed to make the project a success. This is in a way like how a general practitioner doctor prescribes a specialist for further investigation. Likewise, the Architect is the “general practitioner” within the issues and needs of built environment who will ultimately be the team leader of any built environment project.

We can take another example, a simple house. An architect will occupy with the best knowledge of advising the client for the pros and cons of a selected site. With a good rationale, the architect would be able to foresee budgetary, environmental and other hazards that the client may face with his site selection. In that way, the architect serves his professional consultancy with due care as defined within the three principles of ethics.

What has happened now? All other non-professionals and allied professionals (i.e. engineers) has taken over the crucial part that an architect should do. Even though they don’t have this level of expertise, they claim they can offer the same level of expertise as an architect do. I am not saying they are not experts. But their expertise is limited to a certain field. For an instance, can an eye surgeon act as an oncologist treating a leukemia patient? Or, can a head nurse act as the ward doctor, treating the patients? Ultimately, what has happened is, head nurses, attendants and other doctors of “built environment” has mixed up their duties creating a havoc and chaos to natural and built environment, leading to a crippled economy of the country.

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