Describe architecture. What is the definition of architecture as an idea, a practice, and a profession? I’ve been discussing this a lot with coworkers lately, and I’ve recently seen a few posts on this subject on a variety of sites. I thus decided to put myself out there and try to explain what, in my opinion, is the actual concept of architecture. This seems like it will be a contentious position. I know I’m probably going to upset some people. I think it’s important for me to clarify right away that some of the issues I cover below are not less important in my opinion; rather, they just don’t fit my preferred definition of architecture. (That is a capital “A,” indeed.)

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Architecture is not design.

From someone who appreciates the process of designing, this may sound like an odd statement, but design is not architecture. Although design is a component of architecture, it is neither architecture nor architecture in its whole. I mention this because a great deal of designers in the field like discussing the process of designing architecture. However, design is really a minor aspect of architecture. These days, design appears to be taken into consideration in everything. For instance, toothbrush commercials highlight the product’s exquisite design. Therefore, even while design—including the design of buildings or other structures—is unquestionably a component of the broader idea of “A” architecture, it cannot be regarded as architecture in and of itself. There is more to architecture. I should definitely create a whole post on this concept alone, but I have to move on.

Architecture is not planning.

Once more, this idea is extremely closely related to architecture and is undoubtedly a component of the process of generating architecture, but it is not architecture in and of itself. I concur that land-use, urban development, and master planning are tasks that architects ought to be involved in. Although these activities contribute to the development and planning of our cities and regions, they do not by themselves constitute architecture. I do not at all mean to suggest that these endeavors are worthless or that they contribute nothing to the built environment or to the field of architecture. That is reckless, but once more, they are not architects. Thus, please refrain from attacking me with this fury about how master planning and urban planning are forms of architecture. I hear you, and I understand. However, they are architecture nearby, not architecture by my definition. They have an impact on how architecture is made.

Architecture is not research.

Maybe you’re seeing a pattern here. But once more, research is not the same as architecture. Writing articles on architecture and design, development, or conducting research on architecture are not the same as studying architecture. Things that are only found on paper are not and cannot be architecture, according to my soon-to-be definition. Though I think this may be one of the most divisive topics I write about today, I really think these ideas are not architecture. Do they make an architectural contribution? They do, of course! Are they in close proximity to each other in terms of architecture? They are, of course. Do they enhance and add to the components involved in designing architecture? Indeed. Do they help the practice in any way? Indeed. Do they frequently advance the profession? Indeed. Are they, though, architects? No. I understand that for many, that will be a smack in the face. But just be patient with me; I’m making progress.

Building is necessary for architecture.

This idea suggests that architecture is more than just construction. It involves more than just planning and building a facility that can be inhabited. For something to be deemed True Capital “A” Architecture, it must meet additional criteria beyond the act itself. I am aware that this may seem pretentious, sophisticated, and maybe even conceited, but I genuinely think that this is the correct description of architecture. To be honest, I don’t know whether I have produced a lot of capital “A” architecture in my career to yet. I’ve completed a good deal of work that doesn’t quite fit my notion of architecture. That doesn’t imply I haven’t made an effort to produce it. That does not imply that I won’t try to include it into every endeavor. However, due to practical constraints like finances, customers, sites, building codes, and other intricate factors, that isn’t always feasible. Creating “A” Architecture while navigating all of that requires a highly deft touch and/or intellect. I believe that when I discuss all of these things that architecture is not, it starts to give us a notion of what it is.

Though it’s important to note that “A” architecture encompasses more than just construction, at its foundation, I think architecture is still about building. “A” Architecture is something that has to be built and brought into existence in the real world. I say this because, in order for something to be deemed to be “A” Architecture, it must successfully navigate all of the constraints and deal with contractors, tradespeople, budgets, material shortages, and changes that are necessary to literally bring an entire project from design conception through to the fully built final project. I am aware that some people would become angry over it. However, I believe it to be the accurate definition of architecture. This is not to say that any of these other pursuits have no bearing on the study, research, or development of architecture as a discipline or on the profession. With my assertion and description, I do not want to discredit any of those initiatives, but genuine architecture need to have a narrow definition.