Architecture in the form of built environment plays an important role in our lives. Humans establish a relationship with elements in their natural as well as artificial environment over a period of time. In fact some might even become fixated over a building or a structure almost instantaneously. Scores of people have fallen in love at first sight with the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, just to name a few. Doesn’t that clearly mean that architecture does have an everlasting effect on our minds?
Ask yourself, there must be some piece of architecture that you really feel connected to. That one museum or skyscraper, or a church, temple or mosque, a railway station, a bridge or even a small house down the street. The imprint of architecture is trapped deeply in our minds. There is no denying the involvement of emotions in the sphere of architecture; hence they should not be neglected in the design process.
Why should we not pay even more attention to the emergence, existence and extinction of architecture and its elements? Suppose you grew up in the same neighbourhood for your whole life and you always admired that one building or structure that has been there for as long as you know. Now imagine if the local authorities want to demolish it to make way for a shopping mall. How would you feel when the news breaks upon you? I’m sure it would leave you feeling unhappy and upset. This is because you have had a deep rooted place for this building in your mind. A strong sentimental value given to something that is as artificial as it gets. Interior spaces too, can have significant presence within our minds. For instance, you may be extremely comfortable with the layout and setting of your house or a coffee shop. If someone, as much as moves a few chairs and tables or removes that wall painting you like, you begin to feel uneasy. Many of you might be familiar with the character ‘Monica’ from the popular 90’s series FRIENDS. She was so intricately obsessed with the configuration of her living environment that one small change would freak her out. Though fictitious, this scenario can be witnessed in real life. The tiniest of alteration in the space surrounding you can affect you greatly. All of the above cases in point are evidence that we may be more dependent on our built environment than we ever thought of.
With respect to the topic of discussion, an architect might wonder what his /her responsibility is in the whole picture. Does this mean an architect has the power to yield and stimulate cognitive activity? Absolutely, and by doing what they do best, architects can help us realise the true value of architecture.
Akshay Ashok Salunkhe
IRIANS- The Neuroscience Institute