Our work and our quest for dauntless creativity does come with it own reward and repercussion as well. And it of course goes beyond the usual euphoria and the glamour of resounding applause and glitz. It's somewhat of a retribution - a structural deformity on the body that tend to announce itself unconciously. It involuntarily amplifies the magnitude of long suffering an architect had endured in his quest to garner those streams and spring of ideas into an ocean of absolute beauty and often times pinnacles of wonder.
It takes a keen observer, a meticulous watchman, a consistent onlooker to pin-point this slightly odd posture amongst renowed designers in our realm. It took me four years on campus (and could have been more) yet I did not see this until a colleague drew my attention to this uniform condition amongst the lots of senior Architects in the faculty of Enviromental Studies.
I have seen them walk across the lawn, towards the car park, through the stairs and over the pedestrian and I have seen them bow slightly forward with shoulder rounder and brooder than usual to accommodate the subtle extra curving of the spine.
Physiologists call it postural kyphosis. It's a deformation at the upper back region that surfaces after years of slouching on a chair. Architects are among the growing trend of professionals who are vulnerable to this postural disorder. Through the seemingly endless hours of draughting; with face and eyes looking down on a white board, neck protruding forward like a threatning headbutt, pencil in hand and assisted by a scale rule in the other; Millions of lines are made out thereafter to form a master piece of architectural design.
Despite the digitization of Architectural drawings with Computer Aided Design (CAD) softwares like AutoCAD, ArchiCAD, etc a designer would still be forced to slouch on an office chair in a bid to quench the thirst of utmost concentration and anxiety.
Slouching all day according to experts can force the chest muscles to tighten beyond normal, which thus pulls the spine forward and rotates the shoulders inwardly. Then you may see some Architects standing invert - like a question mark! "?"
An old soldier who had perhaps lost a leg or arm would be usually regarded as a great fighter who must have faced the fiercest battles to survive. I wonder, if It would be asking too much for the same glory to be accorded, Architects whose back has curved abnormally due to consistent dedication to the art. That slouch, a disorder that could be quite painful and would of course require medical attention is itself a glory in the same vain.
It is worthy of note that there are varieties of Architects globally, obviously not all Architects will enter into full practice of the profession. Some become administrators, politicians and so on, these over time are invariably expunged from the order of the great slouching designers. However, do not assume that anyone with the "Arched back" to be a designer worthy of Note.
Furthermore, one could argue that the slouching may be due to old age; it seems quite valid to put forth the age factor in this monologue, but would it be valid to also say only old men get diabetic? NO! Being diabetic is largely dependent on genealogy and lifestyle, I dare say the same goes for being hunchbacked. One can be hunchbacked very early in life because of heredity and lifestyle just as in diabetic patients
In conclusion, I would like to use a biblical scenario to capture the essence of this deformity. Remember the story of Jacob who got his thigh bone dislocated after he wrestled with an extra-terrestrial? That is the closest analogy to what Architects do, we are creators of the human environment and in so doing it takes us extra tenacity to strive over our design as it affects the society around us. The urge to unveil more complex designs to meet the human insatiable wants can degenerate into an addiction, an addiction to keep drawing, creating and designing even in pain and fatigue. The Hunch...is a dent of honor given by the universe itself to the brave who have conquered convention to contribute to the beauty of the built environment.
Written by O. Valentine