Understanding Architecture is like getting punched in the face.
Architecture is complex; there is so much bubbling under the surface that people tend to take it for granted. Maybe it’s because that experiencing architecture is a sneaky little devil – it instantly affects our psyche without us knowing that it is doing so. But if you were to actually study how your brain works (luckily for us, the awesome scientists have already taken the reigns on that one; thanks guys.) you’d find that we understand architecture on 3 fundamental levels. Like unwrapping a present through its layered packaging or savoring a candy bar from crispy exterior to chewy core – the way we perceive architecture is a layered experience.
I like comparing experiencing architecture to boxing, specifically getting hit by a jab-straight-hook combination.
Each punch has a specific purpose, and when done right, the flurry results in a spectacular knockout.
The jab signifies how we first perceive the physicality of architecture.
Our minds first put together an observation on most obvious concrete things, like space – structure, how enclosed it feels, . The jab is our introductory “oomph”; it may not yet overwhelm, but it catches our attention and causes us to pay more interest.
After the set-up of the jab, the straight takes us further into the more perceptual aspects of the architecture.
We become more dialed in, and start to have general sentiments about texture, color, light, views, and sounds from within the space. We start to get rickety and an emotional response starts to build.
With our foundations leveled, the culminating hook sends our consciousness to a completely different wavelength. We start absorbing the architectural experience on a deeper and more conceptual level.
We notice the imageries, patterns, symbols, signs, and determine how it relates to us in our human capacity to be philosophical. The architecture has lead us through a series of calculated blows that rocked our consciousness, and we get now get knocked out by the emotional response.
The knockout i’m referring to here doesn’t suggest any physical harm – it just means that great architecture resonates with us on all three levels and gets strongly knocked into our memories. It creates a meaningful impact – whether awe-inspiring, revolting, or serene – and that truly is what designers love to impart on their audiences.