Architecture exists, like most of everything else, only in the minds of human beings. Architecture is how humans make sense of things, and how we arrange things to accomplish other things. We “architect” shared environments where we can have shared experiences as things to wrap around ourselves with others. And we “architect” tools, with precision, to manipulate materials and create forces to achieve engineering marvels. And, we “architect” social organizations. People architecting people to accomplish ends by means of cooperative, agreeable, relationships for all peoples involved. (All seems to be a hangup.)
We call people who orchestrate architectural arrangements architects.
We call the activity set and work product of such arrangements Design.
Architecture is the arrangement of functions and features within a system that strives for ideal harmony and balance of utility, durability and delight for the stakeholders.
From my (JVS) viewpoint:
the difference between “architecture” and “engineering” is focus. Engineering tends to balance utility (function) versus durability (structural form, strength, cost, risk, etc.) Architects, IMHO, try to balance engineering and delight. Some engineers are also good architects. Some “architecture” is limited to (hopefully sound) engineering. [Stakeholders are supposed to be “delighted” that it works.] Stakeholder delight is hard work, and it’s elusive. There are always multiple stakeholders, and their impressions of delight are often in conflict, and changing. Harmony can be elusive. Enduring harmony requires dynamic adaptation. Evolution, or revolution. Graceful, managed growth; or occasional tear-down and rebuild[fn]There is a role for both evolution and revolution. It’s a function of context. Urgency sometimes demands faster “fixes” to concerns. That tends toward “redo.” Sustained growth tends to need evolutionary methods. Phase shifting (radical transformation in form or substance), even when planned, can be a bumpy path.[/fn]. It’s what architects (designers, modelers) do with houses, products, services, and other forms of systems.
The architecture of an object is the manner in which its components are selected and choreographed into a unified whole designed to satisfy a cohesive purpose. Architecture as a practice is the art and science of designing structures, systems of composite elements, into unified wholes to achieve that purpose. The quality of an architecture can be measured by its social relevance in terms of utility and satisfaction of function, its soundness of [[nid:77|engineering]] and durability, and its esthetic characteristics and the ability to bring delight to its users.[[nid:113]]: “The architecture of a system is defined as: ‘fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution.’ … A system has an architecture even if that architecture is not written down.”[bib]Hilliard2011[/bib]