The Architecture People Want, But Don't Always Get.

The Architecture People Want, But Don't Always Get.
Classical architecture reflects the universal values that are shared by many cultures and civilisations. Its principles of harmony, proportion, and order are as relevant today as they were in ancient Greece and Rome. —Robert A.M. Stern

So, last night I spoke to a writer who's from a small town near Southampton, England. Now, since she's been a writer for decades, she's very observant.

We spoke a little about writing and then made our way to architecture.

I asked her what she feels about architecture today. Let me paraphrase.

Her response: "Oh, I have a lot to say about that. But I must warn you that I don't use any fancy architectural terminology, so maybe I am not qualified to talk about how I feel about architecture. But I miss the way architecture made us feel.

I love going into a nice building because it makes me smile. I wonder why buildings have become so joyless now.

I still go down to the neighbouring towns and click pictures of the beautiful storefronts, the cathedrals, the beautiful houses. They're just gorgeous.

But when I look out my own window, it's all so dull, and dare I say, lifeless.

Now, I understand the limitations that may come with classical architecture, and maybe it's not always cost-effective. But I wish more architects would figure out a way to bring it back. I know it seems difficult, but it can be done. We can still get enough light, breeze, and all the other perks that maybe a modernist building offers, without sacrificing beauty."

Her eyes welled up when she spoke about the ugly situation of her town and many others in England because that's where she's from, and her eyes shone bright when she spoke about the cathedrals and shops that were more human-centric, proportionate, and just plain beautiful.

The joyless architecture.

There are two main key takeaways in here:

  1. How unfortunate it is that we've knowingly or unknowingly created such a gated community as architects. People always have to think twice before they can express their feelings about the architecture around them because apparently, only exclusive architectural terminology serves as an entry token into this conversation. The general public shouldn't have to know big terms. Just like how we don't have to know specific names of trees, flowers, or birds to express our liking toward them, architecture should be the same. Just the words beautiful or ugly should do it. That's enough for us to know that something's off and we need to go back to the drawing board and change things up.
  2. This conversation is proof that we're not building what people want. And that's because we don't talk to people, we don't ask them how they feel about the environment they live in, and we honestly don't care about the opinions of those who've been here decades more than we have. All we seem to care about is our individual taste, cost-effectiveness, fast work, and convenience. All of this comes at a cost. It's costing people's joy.Now, this is not to say that architecture can solve people's problems for them. It just gives them a reason to forget about their issues once in a while. Just like taking a stroll in the park gives you a breather from your life's troubles.

This where people have come from. How do we expect people to be okay with concrete and glass?

Those who've come before us may not all be architects, but they have clearly thought about architecture and the environment they want to be in more than we have.

It's worth taking the time out and having a chat about architecture with those who are not architects. Finally, here's a very important reminder. ⬇️

People ignore design that ignores people. - Henry Dreyfuss