Architecture is many things including a profession, a passion, a statement, a calling, a science, a business. It is a social art that is inseparable from building science. Architecture creates a sense of place, enriches our lives, and can be used to provide a protected connection to nature. Because architecture is a complex discipline it has been described in various ways by numerous individuals over the centuries. While these definitions have tended to vary they have commonalities that are noted in the Oxford Dictionary of Architecture:
“Architecture might be described as the art and science of designing a building having qualities of beauty, geometry, emotional and spiritual power, intellectual content and complexity, soundness of construction, convenient planning, many virtues of different kinds, durable and pleasing materials, agreeable colouring and decorations, serenity and dynamism, good proportions and acceptable scale, and many mnemonic associations drawing on a range of precedents.”
Or more simply, as the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius described nearly 2000 years ago: Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas- Translated to English as Firmness, Commodity, Delight.
Firmness – The structure of a building:
There is no argument that the ability of a building to stand up to weather and human use is an important aspect of architectural design. Long before modern building codes existed architects were already demonstrating concern for the safety of occupants, and of the owner’s investment, by focusing on creating durable structures.
Commodity – The function of a building:
Without function there would be no need to create architecture. The needs of occupants form an interplay of space and ultimately affects the form of a building.
Delight – The beauty of a building:
Delight is the factor which separates a shed from the Pantheon. While buildings may incorporate firmness and commodity architecture meets the other necessary quality of delight. While some modernists have argued that this is an unnecessary aspect of architecture, overall it has been agreed that the enjoyment of a building by humans is a necessary consideration when creating architecture. Delight means understanding the difference between trend and style. Like picking a good suit, a building that incorporates thoughtful style will remain pleasing despite passing trends.