Why is good architecture so important?

Let me begin this blog with the question why is Architecture so important? Many may think of Architecture as a frivolous activity of the elite and wealthy but here is why Architecture matters.

The Environment

The global population is growing rapidly, with the latest estimate that it will reach 10 billion before leveling out. At the same time as the population is growing it is also urbanizing. This process is a massive challenge for humanity and the environment. However it also presents as a game changing opportunity for greater sustainability. Architecture has a fundamental role in how and where we house our populations. If we design our cities well, we can reduce the need for long every day travel. If we design our buildings well, they will provide energy instead of consuming it. If we build sustainably we can keep options open for our future.

Health

Architecture and urban design have a direct impact on our health in several ways. Firstly there is physical activity. People can be encouraged to walk or cycle as a regular means of transport, if the city design allows for this to be done in a safe and convenient way. The regular activity is good for a preventing a variety of medical issues including cardio vascular disease, diabetes and even mental illness.

Good architecture can also reduce health problems of people at work. Stress can be reduced and mental health improved by ensuring that where possible, users of the space can have direct control over it. For example allowing people to open windows, close blinds and adjust lighting contributes to a more harmonious workspace.

Architects are also now looking at ways to eliminate workplace hazards before a person has even stepped into the workplace. For example if a particular light was wall mounted instead of ceiling mounted, then there is no need to get up (and fall off) the ladder to change the bulb.

Culture

Architecture is both an expression of, and a contributor to, a society’s culture.  In Melbourne we are blessed with a thriving multifaceted culture. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the Melbourne Recital Centre are both excellent examples of Architecture fostering contemporary artists.

On the flip side, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park) are both excellent examples of architecture expressing Melbournes sporting culture. The latter was recently named World’s Most Iconic and Culturally Significant Stadium” Award at the Stadium World Congress 2012 in Doha.

Identity

How a city is perceived and regarded worldwide comes down to the people, physical environment and culture. Architecture is in a continuous loop with all three. This worldwide perception is becoming more important as globe becomes a smaller place.

“For a city, architecture is the clothes it wears to the job interview.”

The best Australian example of this is with the Sydney Opera House which is instantly recognizable worldwide. It represents an easy going harbor side metropolis which embraces outdoor living.

The benefits for a city with a positive identity are higher levels of tourism, international business and scientific research collaboration.

The Bottom Line

Everything has a bottom line and architecture is no exception. Environmental sustainability, improved health and a sense of culture and identity all have direct benefits to our economy.

Why is good architecture so important? Good architecture will do more with less, and it is essential for a happy healthy and sustainable society.

Architecture is for everyone.

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About Michael Smith

Architect and Director of Atelier Red + Black based in Melbourne, Australia
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