What is Architecture?

Year after year, a question I always come back to is “what is architecture?”. My favorite part of this question is how there is no right or wrong answer, and everyone always has a different answer. Subjectivity has been a dominant force of my education during my 3rd year of architecture school. It is truly starting to show how each individual person has their own unique way of thinking. This subjectivity is how we continue to innovate as designers. We take references or things that others have done in the past and make them our own.

What is architecture? When I first started pursuing architecture as a career I had always known that education and practice were two very different ends of the spectrum. Actively experiencing these two aspects of architecture I have begun to grasp this idea. You do not just go to school and instantly become a good designer. It is something that takes time and practice. Engaging with design, one of the largest influences in the way I work is about the process of design. Oftentimes architecture is viewed as a final product, but what about the time spent getting it to that point? That is what makes architecture beautiful. Being able to see at a large scale one’s creation, but then having the ability to look at more intimate details and know that each and every element of a building was a design decision.

How do you get to this final product? At this stage in my education, I could care less about how my project ends. I spend my time focusing on the actual idea behind the work. How can I present a great idea, instead of a pretty picture? I want to develop my skills in this middle stage of design that takes a conceptual approach and expands it into a whole project. With every project, my goal is to always innovate. I never want to be stuck in the category of creating something that looks like everything else. I aim to create something that is unique. Something that can only be experienced with the way that I design. Create something that has never been done before. The best version of myself is what I always strive to achieve because my journey is different than what everyone else is doing. I’ve set my goals high because the sky’s the limit. There is no one that can take away my ambitions and goals, and I am the only one that has control over whether I will achieve them or not.

Why architecture? Every day I ask myself why I continue doing this. I’m not here to create pretty pictures, I’m here to have an impact in the lives of others through what I do. Architecture is about how we can serve others through the built environment. We design homes for people to live in, we design schools for people to learn, and parks for people to play. It is never about the building itself, it’s what the building is doing. I enjoy architecture that works with context and can start to illuminate a story within the site while serving people. It is the subjectivity of everyone’s diverse experiences that architecture belongs to. We do not create boxes, we create spaces. Spaces that influence how we interact, operate and live in our daily lives.

Published by Alonzo Colon

Architecture Student at Virginia Tech

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