SEEING THE WORLD

Part of architectural training is very subtle. Its effect is that we relearn how to look. Instead of seeing buildings as background we learn to see them as environment. How many non-architects do you know who regularly look above the ground floor of a building? When we design we use a two dimensional medium to express a solid and three dimensional object, we become used to “seeing” the building described by plans, sections and elevations.

Along with this, as with any specialism, we learn a new language. Space for example means something different in an architect’s lexicon as it expresses qualities and ideas beyond that of the standard meaning. We become used to this sub-language and when we describe buildings it is in these terms.

Having a particular way of seeing and describing what we see creates a barrier between us and our “audience” – clients and those who inhabit the built environments we create. We need to work hard at making sure we continue to communicate our ideas and designs with the “audience” or we run the risk of becoming detached from them, elitist.

It is important that we design with these ideas so that what we do has meaning and consequence but I feel it is also important that we remember that not everyone can see what we see and understand what we say. Vernacular is popular not necessarily because it works but significantly because people can read and understand it. It is familiar to them. If we seek to challenge them with new and different designs then we must always make sure we explain what we are doing in a way they can relate to. To carry our audience with us.

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