In the early hours of the day, one’s eagerness to rush out of the house and hit the road to catch the train or flight to another city is an indescribable and exciting moment we can all relate to. Along the way, we’ve created this ideal image, and all that anticipation comes rushing to a euphoric moment when we first lay eyes on the city!
Travelling excites your senses and opens your eyes to the beauty of the world. You learn how to stop for a while to marvel at the foreign sights and sounds. Among the things that have probably stopped you in your tracks is the beauty of different architectural structures you see for the first time.
Throughout history, architecture and design have served as a link between the past and the present. Apart from the physical remains we see, it tells us a story, whether it be a story of tragedy, survival, or even change. Beyond what people see, architecture allows us to feel, and to experience another culture. Hence, it establishes empathy between people despite our differences.
Architecture has a universal appeal because wherever we travel, we encounter architecture in some form. Different architectural styles leave you in awe for different reasons. While the grandeur of old remains may leave you spellbound with its classic allure, the contemporary cuts of a modern marvel may stretch your imagination no bounds.
Wherever you are travelling, be it a family holiday, a friends trip or the typical business travel, you can always enjoy architectural photography on the go. Architecture, apart from the natural landscapes, make up a big part of the whole travel experience. Small improvements in your architectural photography can make your travel photos all the more enriching and memorable.
Appreciating architecture can become a worthwhile pursuit if you want. But if you want to fall in love more deeply with a certain structure or design, there are some things that you need to take into account. It’s very much like building a kitchen cabinet or cooking your favorite dishes – there are some steps that you cannot simply ignore.
But don’t worry, here are some tips that you should know before visiting a city to make the most of your time there.
Tip 1: Research the city beforehand!
If you want to have a worthy and fruitful trip, you should research the city or particular area you are visiting. You should always gather information in advance about the city you are planning to visit. Knowing the history or significance of your subject is crucial to capturing it the meaningful way. If required, hire a guide or better still do some prior study on Google to learn more about the monuments you are likely to encounter.
Make sure to have a few travel guides, maps, and tourist-route plans of the country to analyze and create a to-do list. This is a perfect way to start a trip like an architect! It’s important to know that research is an effective way to understand whether the architecture of that specific place is worth visiting. So as your research skills improve, your ability to analyze the architecture around you will also improve.
While studying the city, it’s essential to analyze and grasp the relationship between the architecture with its environment and how the urban design is structured. Try to pay more attention to the layers, details, and structures of the city. Learn what it means to observe and formulate a critique or praise of an architectural design and the city as a whole. Ask yourself questions and make comparisons with other cultures and traditions.
Go beyond your initial impression of the city and dissect its hidden layers. When examining a structure, you should internalize that structure and deepen your insight to develop your conceptual thinking skills. To this end, you may even need to be physically present in the structure, feeling, and listening to its inner voice. It’s essential that we should be emotionally aware as well. Architecture is more than a measurement and form.
Sometimes, the building’s design is too stunning and moving that you will find yourself wanting to learn more about it. Indulge yourself and read up on the building’s history. Usually, buildings have commemorative plaques that briefly tell a story about the structure – from its design to inspiration. If you’re not satisfied with the information you get, you can always look things up online. Also, consider talking to the building’s curator or caretaker; they surely have some valuable trivia to share.
Tip 2: Travel with awareness
How many times have you had the chance to analyze a building that you walk past thousands of times from an architectural point of view? How often do you look at a building using your architectural knowledge? To increase the knowledge and experience of a person in architecture requires a heightened awareness of the buildings and environment around them. This is why travelling with awareness is vital to increase one’s ability to analyze architectural structures.
It is essential for all architecture enthusiasts to develop this awareness because travelling worldwide and experiencing architecture on-site is one of the most important learning opportunities. Those who established this awareness, typically, make the most of the places they visit, learn how to make inferences, and expand their current knowledge instead of unconsciously travelling.
It takes a lot of effort to travel around cities like an architect. You will have to read, study maps, draw, take photos of cities and buildings, and keep a notebook. Of course, you should also enjoy and see what a city has to offer during your holiday! You should go sightseeing, visit the markets, explore the streets, and mingle with the people.
Architecture results from the environment, culture, and technology, so it’s impossible to understand the city without doing these fully. If you aren’t timid or have a friend with you, have fun exploring and getting lost in the city! Go wherever your heart takes you; listen, feel, memorize, and experience the hidden beauty of that city. This may mean you will be out of your comfort zone, but what better way to learn about a city than to get lost? If you have patience, enthusiasm, and a desire to learn, any trip will be easy and fun!
Tip 3: Stay In Touch With Locals
Getting to know a nation and a nation’s culture – language, works, literature, architecture, and history – is an important chance for people to develop themselves. The coexistence of many cultures and thoughts in a country is reflected in the traditions, way of thinking, emotions, and city architecture. The combination of these elements is called multiculturalism or diversity.
So, how do you exactly communicate with and live like a local? You can try and find a local who can introduce you to the city, become your friend, and enable you to broaden your network. If you travel to a new area and hope to find someone to introduce to the city, but know no one there, you can use a mobile phone app to find one!
Tip 3: Immerse yourself to what the locals do
The best way to learn and appreciate one’s travels is by immersing yourself to what the locals do. It could be as easy as eating the local food to getting out of your comfort zone by trying out the hot springs in Iceland or in the Azores, or bathing in “holy water” from a Grotto (France) which I don’t recommend doing in the winter.
You should also learn to understand different architectural styles since everything has its own meaning and origin. Grasping one’s emotions through criticizing the building will help one understand the architecture better, and help imprint its impact in one’s mind.
Buildings have their different photogenic sides. If you have seen a building from one side, you may choose to go to another viewpoint or observation deck to appreciate its other parts. Appreciating and loving architecture is a learning process and keeping this in mind, you will learn how buildings make people’s life comfortable and reflect on the country’s way of living and culture.
Tip 5: Go inside and admire the interior
Architecture is not just about the minarets, facades, and exterior heights. It also encompasses what is inside the structure. So don’t just stand outside; go in and appreciate the interiors. For example, if you’re visiting the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain, you ought to go inside to see the otherworldly and magnificent interiors that are a testament to Antoni Gaudi’s genius. The same applies when you visit the mosques in Istanbul. Step inside to see the grandiose and opulence of the structures.
When you travel, or even walk the streets of your local cities, architecture is something that you notice subconsciously. However, in order to appreciate a place’s culture more, you should learn how to make a conscious effort in noticing its architecture and intricate designs beyond what you see on the surface, because when you do this, you’ll be able to gain a better grasp of the whole city or country.
Appreciating architecture is one pursuit or hobby that will eventually lead you to high art appreciation. But it is definitely more than that, as architecture appreciation allows you to absorb and experience the genius of the artists who created the marvel. It is one way of appreciating the main inspiration for these works: life.
When you go to any city, you should keep the above tips in mind to reap the maximum benefit while travelling. Therefore, if you’ve gone to all the places you marked on the map while possibly also sketching and taking notes, then you’ve travelled like an architect! Now you know what to do the next time you’re looking to check off your bucket list!