Apr 11, 2012

“Smell Architecture”!! We have to accept non-tangible design elements as part of architecture and Urban Design!!

Walking down the buzzing food streets of the world is a thrilling experience for most of us, it’s a play field of light and shadow, sound and noise, colors, textures and smell. Smell of street, smell of variety of foods being baked, grilled, processed, and served with love from generations, aroma of spices in the air, that raw fragrances of freshly chopped vegetables, occasional breeze with hint of what is being cooked inside, looking at the faces of crowd apparently engulfed and hypnotized by the tempting aroma of food, all this combined together with the built architecture of street gives an experience which is complete and memorable.

Now take a few steps back and rewind the tour without “Smell” part of the whole experience, and you will realize how important these intangible elements like smell, sound etc. play in making architecture and urban design a complete experience.  Though Light is also an intangible element but it has been given an undue advantage in architecture since centuries, contrary  to its counterparts like smell,sound etc. Unfortunately they don’t teach this in architecture and planning school as well, probably they themselves have unable to understand the significance of such non-tangible elements of architecture. Unfortunately there focus has remained on mass-producing architects, designers and technical hands through proven formulas and they have confined themselves in the predefined boundaries of architecture like, form,  function, space, texture, colors, at most interplay of light and shadow. What about smell, noise, feelings and state of mind of users, experiencing and validating the existence of the architecture and urban design in the first place?

It’s not a hypothetical assumption but a fact that you can’t create a good architecture without a great user experience which involves variety of non-tangible elements, those elements which can’t be quantified in form of project specification items into a spreadsheet.  It’s high time that architects and urban designers should shift focus towards the ambient environment and users experience since they have already mastered the art of form and space through accumulative knowledge of centuries. It’s time to move on.

By - Anoop Jha
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