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What is architecture?

The generally accepted and simplified definition of architecture, or at least its program, is the betterment and improvement of humanitys lifestyle, through utilizing the studies of both art and science, in the form of physical structures and buildings. The process of this program is to translate the metaphysical or conceptual ideas of individuals or groups into reality, employing standards drawn from society and or culture to accomplish set goals. Unfortunately the given task, the question inquired, is somewhat ambiguous in regards to such a broad topic, and thus the answer will be limited within the word frame. In order to answer this meta-question, it is through sub-questions which must be inquired in order to supply an answer which only covers a minute portion to the main question. Perhaps throughout this essay it will re-uncover issues debated throughout history, such as the nature of history, its purpose, issues, relevance and contribution to society. Naturally, the path of this essay will stem from a more specific and personal perspective, the role of architecture, depending on the function of such structures, must employ a certain level of influence from culture, social, political, economical, which is subtly reflected through such structures and buildings, embedding the ideas into the audiences subconsciousness. Through this does it remind the respective society who and what they are, how they have achieved to such status in the world, as if the structures themselves were of historical monuments recording the development of humanity. Nonetheless, this reminder to society constantly changes and develops as society is continuously influenced by polyvalent factors. Through previous studies in regards to architecture, it is understood and accepted that architecture is that of a malleable topic which will most definitely change according to the period it is studied. Throughout history and from various psychological positions, the definition of architecture is absolutely dependent on the context, in the case of time, location, and circumstances, the definition and study of architecture will change in order to satisfy the needs and criteria of specific event (Wade 1977, p. 88). The record and cataloguing of architectural styles is a prime of example of the issue, from Classicism to Post-modernism, these titles not only describe the architectural, aesthetic and design features of structures, but also defines the psychological process, the reasons, the purpose as to why and how such physical features become the way they are, which again reinforces the statement that architecture is defined by its context (Deasy, 1974, p.28; Ots 2011, pp. 56-57). This understanding, though only a small matter, is nonetheless an important and certainly pertain argument which must be reinforced in regards to the perception of architecture. Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness, Frank Gehry, an inspirational architect who survived multiple architectural and art movements. Though this is simply a single perspective, albeit a strong and influential one, it will not define the standards of architecture, however simply reflects the influences, of past and present, imposed upon this individual architect. At which point did art and architecture coincide into similar, if not parallel, studies but of different mediums? Perhaps it was through the Renaissance periods cultural movement, reviewing society and understanding through a different perspective, rethinking their psychological commodities did the realisation of designing buildings could possibly be considered an art form (Erler 2006, p. 42). Alberro (1999, p. 162-163) contrasts art and architecture and that both studies are to be measured separately, such is the case as art is judged by aesthetics whilst architecture by function. Clearly from this art and architecture were perceived as two different entities, similar, but nonetheless different. Though it becomes perplexing between various groups as structures such as the Egyptian pyramids

are considered aesthetic art and not architecture, Alberro (1999, p.163) believes that perception of aesthetics of particular epochs is responsible for this embezzlement of art and/or architecture. Further segregation of art and architecture was during the 60s, a major sculptural innovation in which this vertical alignment was perceived as anthropomorphic, immediate, and static compared to its predecessor horizontal viewpoints of time distance and experiential phenomenon (Alberro 1999, p. 179). From 1965-66, Alberro (1999, p. 521) discusses the early stages of the Conceptual Art movement introduced by Edward Ruscha, arguing, in relation to works by Dan Graham and Joseph Kosuth, that there were issues in regards to the movement due to Minimalisms esoteric and spontaneous aesthetics of permutation to a perspective on the architecture of mass culture, thereby reinforcing Pop Arts structural and phenomenological model of perception. Of course the discussion of the art world is that of a large dissertation, but nonetheless art definitely has influenced the perception upon architecture which individuals of the modern world currently perceive. Without a doubt art and architecture coincided at some points throughout the development of humanity, but more so specifically the involvement and influences of respective religious practices. In the case of Islamic art, it is discussed by Hillenbrand (1999, pp. 11-15) that after the conquest of the Arabs following the death of Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD, the establishment of the Umayyad Caliphate heavily influenced the emergence of a unique style of art and architecture. Such is the case of the most sacred structure, the Kaaba, where religious rituals are heavily revolve around this sacred shrine, and many Islamic art and architecture are influenced by this belief. According to Hillenbrand (1999, pp, 14-16; Taylor 1992, p. 45), we can see similarities between Islamic religious practices and the Kaaba, this religious structure displayed and deified through the covering by a veil reinforces and upholds their belief and practices, further reflected through by the architectural structures of the Majid al-Haram and the people of that society. The urban planning and architectural structures of Mecca are a prime example of society and city heavily influenced by religion, as the Kaaba and surrounding structures reflects their culture and the societys strong belief, as well reflecting in and influencing their art and architectural styles. Similarly, from previous studies, it was shown that religion, or at least relations to, was a significant influence towards architecture, in the case of ancient Greece, the temples and structures were built both structurally and aesthetically sound, perhaps to please their Gods, which gradually influenced the development of the rest of societies structures. Context is perhaps the most important aspect in understanding architecture. Obviously different countries, influenced by different cultures, political, social, psychological, and economical factors can affect the development of each contexts individual perception of architecture and how it is understood. In the case of the traditional Chinese pavilion, though it appears simply as a structure and not architecture, this unfortunate and lack of understanding of pavilions may be because its meaning has become diluted (Zhu 2002, pp. 8-9; Taylor 1992, p. 96). Pavilions were often associated and built alongside gardens and temples, a traditional part of Chinese architecture, designed to be both practical and to tell ancient stories through its location, the way it faces, material and surrounding, as well to re-emphasize the importance of the connection to nature and spiritual customs (Zhu 2002, p. 23). However, it is plain to see the influences upon both design and aesthetic features of each pavilion, depending on the location and function of the pavilion, is visible as the distinct variance between the structures each reflect the origin of its influences, from varying cultures, religion and dynasties, such as the octagonal pavilion with tapered-roof deriving from Baotou introduced during the Yang Dynasty (Zhu 2002, p. 15; Deasy 1974, p. 33). However, every

pavilion is outfitted with a function, from resting scenery spots to finely detailed dragons depicting the story of past great Emperors, its purpose and layout is determined by value of both site and cultural context. Through Canters (1974, pp. 4-8) research does he breakdown and categorise the process or structure of human behaviour in relation to the act and thoughts of designing. Without a doubt Canter (1974, pp. 8-15) clearly explains the actual work involved in regards to understanding architecture, in this case he discusses the source of human concept, the utilization of it and the reaction and response to the results of the design outcome through critical evaluation in the form of methodological and psychological techniques, whether the evaluator is aware of the conscious or subconscious analytical process and reaction entirely depends on the individuals level of awareness. Hence it is through the study of architecture in which students learn and understand reason, reaction and utilization of the psychological research required to apply to building structures and the reaction and awareness of the audience (Canter 1974, pp. 12-14). Broadbent (1980, pp. 23 44) applies the study of anthropology, psychology and sociology in decrypting the meaning behind the built environment through focusing on the culture as the prime context in understanding architecture and its structures. Of course these fields each influences the approaches towards architecture, often through symbolism physically visible upon the physical properties, or as Broadbent (1980, p. 25) calls it, the face value. Through this perspective Broadbent (1980, pp. 23- 25) uses as the foundation in his studies in understanding the idea of architecture, to further understand spatial qualities, rules, and behavioural patterns induced throughout the process of designing in architecture. Rather than art, Broadbent (1980, pp. 1-13) relates architecture to that of biology, applying the values of specific organisation and categorisation, distinct features differentiating between structures within architectural study. Architecture is without a doubt a malleable idea or concept which shapes itself differently according to the perspective of the individual studying and attempting to understand this plethora of connections. Again most importantly it is the context, the epoch in which architecture is both observed as it is, and where it is observed from, which ultimately affects the understanding and perspective of such study and the reflection from structures, ever changing as architecture itself changes over time. Perhaps the difference, or indifference, between both art and architecture is simply not important, as buildings and structures continue to physically appear the same, but behind each structure was an idea a person created and believed, and inputting such programs and beliefs into the structure, in which no other individual will understand, unless the idea was recorded of course. Thus it is without doubt through countless polyvalent factors continuously influencing architecture, buildings, and people will the understanding of architecture continue to develop into a larger, and likely more perplexing subject.

Bibliography Alberro, A., et al. 1999, Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, The MIT Press, Cambridge Broadbent, G., et al. 1980, Meaning and Behaviour in the Built Environment, John Wiley & Sons, New York. Canter, D. 1974, Psychology for Architects, University of Surrey, England. Deasy, C. 1974, Design For Human Affairs, John Wiley & Sons, New York. Erler, A. 2006, Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics, Dickies Institutional Theory and the Openness of the Concept of Art, Vol. 3, No. 3, Lincoln College, Oxford Hillenbrand, R. 1999, Islamic Art and Architecture, Thames & Hudson, London. Ots, E. 2011, Decoding Theory Speak: An Illustrated Guide to Architectural Theory, Routledge, New York. Taylor, M. 1992, Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion, The University of Chicago Press, United States of America. Wade, J. 1977, Architecture, Problems, and Purposes, John Wiley & Sons, New York. Zhu, J. 2002, China: The Art Of Chinese Pavilions, Foreign Language Press, Beijing