People in Architecture

Architectural photography is notorious for omitting people to the best of its ability, especially as a space becomes more powerful and contains more architectural elements.  Contrasting this are renderings which always highlight people utilizing space and demonstrate how it can be activated via our interactions.  Two different forms of displaying space, two completely different takes on the most important element within; people.  

We design space for use.  This use almost every single time will relate back to a human, a human need or something a human is doing.  This is why when we present renderings it's so important to demonstrate the usability a space will give to its constituents while a photo may be more of an abstraction, depicting space as art.  I am a firm believer, however that the people in the space actually do make it such an art, they are essentially part of the architecture themselves whether they know it or not.

As designers of the built environment, we picture our creations as a beautiful series of geometries and plays of lights and shadows among other things.  Often, the idea of people inhabiting space is almost foreign and once we see how they actually use it, we can't really believe what's happening.  As much as we try to not admit it, we can never fully plan nor intend for how a space will be used, it's impossible.  I believe that is part of the beauty of what we do.  As architects, we need to begin to think about space with people in it.  It is great to have a space that pushed its own boundaries with odd geometries or playful displays of light however in all reality our building will only be successful if it facilitates its intended use.  We do not necessarily need to think about the people within space as vehicles for functionalism, instead they are merely extensions of the walls, floors and roofs that create our environments.

Recent pop-culture hits such as Humans of New York portrays both humans and their environments.  The scene and the emotions of the people are just as important to help tell the story through a complete visual.  This is where I began to think that people in photographs and portrayals of architecture aren't such a bad thing rather they are part of the design.  If we think early and often in a project how the space can be engaged by different user groups, we are more likely to: A) create a more useful space, and B) allow these people to be complimentary to our design not shying away from their evident presence.  Populate 3D-models early on and think about the scales, movements and ways in which people will gather within a space to make it feel more intended for its original purpose.  People are a mere part of the large puzzle that comprises architecture and design, once we as designers and spatial planners can see them not as people but components of architecture, we can create a more dazzling space.