Can Architecture address?

So I was thinking about this based on a conversation I had with someone today; consider movies. There are films like Harry Potter, say, which captures you in its world, and makes for an engaging watch anytime you go back to it. And then there’s a movie like Inception, say, which makes you think deeper after each watching. Not a fan of inception? Try Taare Zameen Par. The movie was excellently made, and it brought into limelight the issue of a condition in a society largely unaware of it.

Can this analogy be extended to architecture? The former seems to me, about experiential, evocative spaces whose charm exists purely when they’re around you. Not that it is a particularly bad thing – but what does it speak to the context around it? To the people standing out looking in?

Don’t get me wrong here – any piece of art or architecture will send out a message – be it a crappy movie like Chennai Express (that Deepika REALLY shouldn’t speak in Tamil) – or a any old building with a high compound wall around it (that NO, you probably shouldn’t just walk in.) – because it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. But what about intentionally stating a message? Is it possible, or required for a building to speak to those around it as much as it does to those within it? Vernacular Architecture classes about Kerala architecture come to mind. The scale and grandeur of the Nair tharavadu was just as much, a display of wealth as it was about responding to context. And consider this – the gender and class stereotypes that a few traditional household spatial system encouraged and enforced seeped into the people’s minds as well. You colour your lens with what you get from home, right?

So here’s the question – as architects, should we focus on political/social/economical statements our architecture should be making? (Over and above what we put in unconsciously) Or should we focus on it as an experiential art as it is, and let the rest happen unconsciously?



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