Just What Is It That Makes Architecture So Different, So Appealing

Architecture, why do I love you so much? The ability to infuse space with meaning and make pragmatic volumes is wonderful. To be able to operate on multiple levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is exciting and fulfilling. Most people outside of the field think that the purpose is to meet basic needs, and they do not see the possibilities of the discipline can meet the psychological and self-fulfillment needs, but it can also help meet transcendence.

Architecture can be inspiring and even meet the level of religion, where a structure can express a new perspective or can physically manifest holy beliefs and teachings. A building can even express the highest way of living through layout, program, and architectural design methods. Also, a sense of greatness or the sublime can be produced in architecture by the introduction of scale. To have something massive and man-made is an easy way to produce awe. Alternately, placing architecture in view or within a natural body that holds the characteristics of great scale and physical novelty will also produce such an effect.

Another level of Maslow’s hierarchy that architecture can meet is the self-fulfillment. As stated above, a building can embody religion and greatness, but it can also afford personal growth and fulfillment through its form, thesis, and materials. How the architect can design the structure to do this is programming the structure to provide cues for and support a better life. Most people do not think this is part of architecture, but it is and it can be elusive to those not looking for the purpose. However, we can design the building to encourage better living through its use.

Next, architecture can meet psychological needs through its form and use. A structure can be a source of pride and prestige. The quality of the design, construction, and materials can be impressive to the owner and others. In addition, the layout of the building and its spaces can encourage intimacy and friendship. Warm materials and sociofugal design will push the individuals using a space closer together, whereas hard, cold spaces will not encourage interaction. This is a level of the hierarchy that architects should always strive for, in addition to self-actualization and the next, basic needs.

What most people think architects do is to design for our physiological and safety needs. Yes, we design to provide shelter, and this shelter is to be secure and strong, resisting weather conditions and other people who might cause some form of harm. But, we also design a structure to provide better living conditions, such as ideal temperature and humidity, while giving space dedicated to rest, eating, and social interaction. Some might feel that this is the highest purpose for architecture, but we believe it is necessary though hopefully secondary to the psychological, self-actualizing, and transcendent levels capable of design. Or, it should at least be equivalent in importance.

But, how do we do this? How do we get to address each of these levels? It is rare for a building to successful at all levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. But, we can pursue this through different forms of architecture–a building can be built, but does it have to be to satisfy our needs? Some structures can exist in another form than the real or extant. These can express many things that a built structure might have trouble providing. However, the same thing can be said for built structures, however these easily provide a different set of needs. We can say that real structures easily provide basic needs, are moderately easy to provide psychological needs, and are difficult to provide self-actualizing and transcendent needs. Whereas, we can say that the imaginary or differently represented structure has ease at providing self-actualizing needs and likely transcendent needs, has moderate ease at providing psychological needs, and has difficulty to meet basic needs. How can a structure only on paper or on the internet be able to provide a space for real eating and consumption, as well as real security and safety? It is not impossible, but it is likely difficult. The objective here is to show how we can make the difficult easier to heighten the effectiveness of both real-world and imaginary architecture, because both have a place and a future.

This could be the main focus of this stage of my career, and it should not be ignored. There is a power in knowing how to do the real and also the other. In fact, this website is likely to be the best way to explore the possibilities.


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