The architecture of immersiveness

(Clicking on the images on this post opens it full size)

Hearing an architect describe their own work, is the best academic way to hear it. But what if I say it kills your subjectivity?

There was something which had been in my mind troubling me for a long time, and the presentations by the 3 architects have been able to pull it out of me. I believe Architecture is a truly experiential art – to be honestly judgmental and critical about it, you have to experience it.

Each of the spaces that we visited, made me look at different things. I’m actually not sure whether it was a good or a bad thing that I was not able to attend the presentations about the buildings by the architects themselves.

It’s funny how in any other creative field (literature, pottery, sculpture, or music come to mind) if I have to be able to judge it, I have to experience it in its entirety, but not so in architecture education (let’s set aside those practical considerations for a minute). Wouldn’t it be hysterical if you were my music teacher who had to judge me for a competition, and I turned in a paper describing my composition with words or a picture with the musical notes arranged beautifully? How then, for architecture crits? How can a living, breathing, space be judged based on pretty renders or overly complex sounding words?

In architecture utopia, (where finance and practicality don’t matter or till the technology of 1:1 immersive walkthroughs reach us), this seems rather silly doesn’t it?

Now put those real world caps back on again. Obviously it is silly to suggest that each student build his design on site for the review or each architect build a 1:1 model each time a client presentation comes up. (Or is it? :P) This was merely a thought exercise for 2 points I wanted to get across:

  • Is the current “design process” followed by us students in colleges the most optimal one? It might certainly be the most efficient one, but effective?

    I know how exciting and liberating I’m finding my internship to be, and it’s partly due to all the “real world” responsibilities I’m expected to handle, and knowing the amount of detail and attention that goes behind each detail. Most of my friends agree. Why this “real world” architecture shock? To use a medical school analogy, it’s akin to reading Grey’s Anatomy for 3 years and then suddenly being expected to assist in an operation!

    In fact, here’s a radical idea: why not be in a state of continuous internship throughout college life? If you’re in first year and designing a residence, say, you’d be required to have regular meetings with an architect who’s handling a similar project in their office, and be able to get your design up to the level to dot all your Is and cross all your Ts.

    I know the various implications of the idea I just said (and I might not even fully know it) and some of you might even find it downright silly, but that’s what the comments section is for. 🙂

  • Is experiencing architecture straight from the horse’s mouth ACTUALLY the best way? (NOT in an academic sense)Following the architecture as an experience idea (you may not agree with me on this), isn’t any form of presentation a way of clouding your subjectivity?In fact, this is more of an open question than an opinion : Am I supposed to feel differently about a space that strongly resonated with me if I learned that say, it was a design decision taken by the client that the architect was not happy about at all? What if I learned that a building I had loved as a whole was not the outcome of any thought out design “process”? Most importantly, are we weighed down by our own critical judgement that we can no longer truly be “just” participants in architecture?

All that being said, I’m truly greatful to Ar.Sriram, Ar.Pradeep and Ar.Mahesh for the presentations of those wonderful spaces. Here are some more pictures of those spaces (clicking opens a full size image)

Mr. Srikant’s residence at Neelangarai


The Hindu School, Indira Nagar 



The Book Building, Thiruvanmiyur (Apologies, these are from an earlier visit, as the lighting conditions there when we visited didn’t let me take pics in my phone)