Architecture at a glance

The question “What is architecture?” is one of the most basic but also one of the most challenging stuff architects ask themselves. It is a philosophical question that repels a complete answer yet incites an intellectual examination. Architects’ answers to this question help outline their designs. WHAT IS ARCHITECTURE? is also a question that is particularly important for students who are looking for different perspectives on architecture as they come to form their own definitions. While artists work from the real to the abstract, architects must work from the abstract to the real. Architecture, beneath all its limitations of engineering, safety, function, climate, and economy, arouses us with designs in space and light achieved in the abstract. The profession of designing buildings, open areas, communities, and other artificial constructions and environments, usually with some regard to aesthetic effect. Architecture often includes the design or selection of furnishings and decorations, supervision of construction work, and the examination, restoration, or remodeling of existing buildings. Architecture is a passion, a vocation, a calling — as well as a science and a business. It has been described as a social art and also an artful science. Architecture must be of the highest quality of design. Architecture provides, in the words of Marcus Vitruvius, the great Roman architect and historian, “firmness, commodity, and delight. Architecture is everywhere. Each and every building: home, school, office, hospital and supermarket were designed for their particular purpose. It is of vital importance that these buildings, and in turn the environments they form and the neighborhoods and cities they are a part of, are designed to be the best possible buildings for their specific context, use and the people who use them.