Re-defining Architecture

During the very first class meeting of Arch 16 (Architectural History, Theory and Criticm I: Introduction to Architecture), our professor told us that there is no such thing as a standard definition of “architecture”. Every single person has his or her own perspective. There is no right or wrong definition. It will always be acceptable as long as that particular person believes and justifies it.

I had a first shot in defining architecture as written in my first post in this blog ( This definition, however, was made during the start of the semester, just before the whole Arch 16 thing.

What happened during Arch 16? I spent countless nights stressing on a bunch of reflection papers (all of such are posted in this blog). I panicked during a couple of class presentations and group works. I complained a lot because of the unbearably long readings. “YOLO” had become one of my battle cries while the professor choose his victims for the recitation. I joined the Batangas field trip for extra credit, but I didn’t have enough time to write a reflection paper about it, so I never really received those extra points. I fell asleep during the film viewing of “Life as a House” in class, the reason I had to get a copy and watch it again on my own. I exhausted my energy and money when I went to visit the Tri Noma mall for my critique. I cried though without tears while typing my final argumentative paper because I spent too much time observing and researching and never really organizing. I typed all the ideas together a night before the deadline. Finally, an inner volcano inside my body erupted when I found out that my friends from other Arch 16 classes weren’t required to write a bunch of papers and compile them into a blog. Now, you might think it’s a miracle I even survived the subject.

All those experiences, though difficult and stressful as they are, affected my view of architecture. If not for all I’ve been though, I wouldn’t have earned a deeper understanding of the course I decided to take.These taught me to be more observant and to think out of the box. Spaces surrounding us may have something to say about our response to climate (as discussed in How Context Affects Architecture), express something about our culture (as mentioned in How Culture Affects Architecture), and about ourselves (as discussed in Architecture and Cultural Identity). I learned that architecture may signify something deeper just as the Quezon Hall in the UP Diliman campus stands as the “window” to the campus (because of its structure that is flat with a big opening at the center). Arch 16 also taught me how to say something “intelligent” about architecture by requiring me to write critiques. I personally enjoyed critiquing because it is like going to an adventure and unraveling stories and secrets of a particular building or space. We often walk into places but we don’t really “think” about them. There I realized that “going” to a place is different from “experiencing” it.

It’s all about the experience. We define architecture based on our experiences and we design for the spaces to be experienced. Architecture connects with the people; architecture is for the people. Be it an office building rich in functionality or a mere monument for the people to stare at, it affects the user or viewer one way or another. A building rich with function allows the person to interact well with it. On the other hand, a structure that’s mere monumental still interacts because it can trigger memories and convey a story.

We learn a town’s “diwa ng lunan” by experiencing it. Our design professor mentioned that when designing any kind of space, we should always anticipate and think of how it would look like when the person actually walks into it. Would it make them feel secured? Would it be too claustrophobic? Would it confuse them where to go next? In short, we should know how it would be experienced. We should make sure that the message gets to them. Our Arch 16 professor also said that we need  to visit the site to critique it. This means researching for pictures and stuff is never enough; we have to throw ourselves out there; we have to experience. According to the study made by blogger Environmentalalex in entitled Architecture: The Art of Experience, architecture can help develop the human brain. He compared architecture to music and said that “like a musical composition, spatial features come together into a symphony for occupants to experience”.

All the stress that I’ve been through made me more experienced than before. Thanks to our strict professor, my classmates and I were pushed to our limits. For every mistake, we earn an experience. And in every experience, we learn. Now that Arch 16 is over, I may re-define architecture: “Architecture is space experienced”. This definition is not that far from my first one because the whole experience thing means it has to reach out to the people in infinitely many ways. This is why this entire blog is entitled “The Arki Experience”; because I wish to sum up what I’ve realized after a couple of months in Arch 16, a class I’m truly glad I took – it’s really all about the experience.



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