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Architecture is the designing and construction of buildings. Every era that the human civilization has gone through, in its inexorable progress into the future, has been marked by its own unique architecture, attesting to the craftsmanship of its people. Architecture is art and science at the same time.
Architecture is art because a building that is constructed is an expression of the imagination and creativity of whoever is involved in its design. This is why even buildings used for the most mundane of purposes transform into a work of art in the hands of a gifted architect. Moreover, certain architectural wonders, be it a house or a public building like a museum, bears the signature of the architect. They reflect the architect’s personality and beliefs.
However, architecture is also science because a building design has to be within the realms of rational thinking: It cannot ignore reality and its boundaries. For example, a house addresses the need for shelter, a basic human necessity. It has to be functional, durable, sustainable and affordable. Ensuring these qualities needs empirically tested and validated knowledge, which we call science. In modern times, scientific principles and data are increasingly being used in architecture, so that buildings may be resistant to such natural disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. Interestingly, it is not only modern scientific concepts that influence architecture. The ancient Chinese knowledge system called ‘Feng Shui’, developed over 3,000 years ago in China, advises how to balance the ‘energies’ of any given space. In India, ‘Vaasthu Shastra’, an ancient Indian science of architecture and buildings, is hugely popular even today. Both Feng Shui and Vaastu Shastra are thought to guide people in taking advantage of the natural benefits of a given space and ‘energy fields’ for enhanced health, prosperity and happiness.
Thus, being art and science, architecture inhabits a unique space among the modern knowledge systems. In the 21st century and beyond, architecture is all set to satisfy both aesthetic sensibilities, and functional, economic and social requirements of the human race.