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)

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The architecture of immersiveness”

  1. Hello Sarat!
    You have brought up some interesting questions here. I write here, some of my opinions, which may serve as an answer to your two questions. Firstly, your ‘internship as an education’ is not a radical idea at all. It is in fact, merely going back to the tradition of apprenticeship, which was the norm in the architectural profession, all over the world in earlier times. Its relevance today is questionable, as the way the world works has changed. When you intern with a practice, you are exposed to the real world, albeit in a ‘single practice perspective’. The way you learn to handle your new ‘real world responsibilities’ will be heavily influenced by the philosophy/objectives of the architectural practice you intern with. Hence, the idea of making your whole career based on what you see in your tenure with a single practice might be worth questioning. And, it cannot be solved with interning at multiple practices, as you will only be left with a set of perspectives which might/might not come together. The idea of having a studio education, at this point, therefore, gives you the space/time/opportunity to stand back, analyse and form your own perspectives. It is detached from the real world scene, and that is exactly why you can explore more possibilities. And maybe, one day, having seen these in the studio, you will strive to make it work in the real world. I have seen a number of ideas shot down as ‘not workable’ too early. Maybe exposure to possibilities leads you to have a more optimistic attitude to the ‘real world’ too. As to the part about ‘the design process being optimal….’ – Studio education only implies the idea of ‘design as a process’. ‘How and what the process is’ is entirely open to the student/architect which leads us to your second question. (which is already many questions in one) Every form of presentation shows some aspects and hides others. Most architects consciously manipulate the presentation techniques/medium to suit their goals and usually the stakeholders are fairly aware of it too…To the second part of your question…….There are many ways of approaching / appreciating / judging architecture. If you have chosen to look at the experiential quotient of a building, then the as you have said, the entirety of the experience will help you appreciate the building. Whether the process/stakeholder effected an aspect of the architecture becomes impertinent here. The ‘how and why it came into being’ is a different forum of discussion and whether/not the analyses will affect your opinion about a building will depend on what aspect your appreciation stems from.
    best,
    Sudar

  2. Hi sarat
    Questions raised are interesting, in my point of view.. The interning towards the end of ur study course will help u greatly since because u already acquired handful of knowledge from ur college and during the internship period u execute it.. This cannot happen wen u do ur first yr .. This is similar wen u cook.. While bakin a cake u first read the recipe n see some videos hw it is done n thn practically begun bakin.. Likwise u read theoretically n thn follow the basics in practice..wil help u better in refined thinking towards design..

    Wishes for future
    Vaishnavi

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