How Buildings Can Make Life Better

 In Sustainable Design

“You cannot make a building unless you are joyously engaged,” renowned architect Louis Kahn once said. This “joyous engagement,” as architect and clients’ imaginations meet, is a projection into the future of more than just a building. It is the envisioning of a felt experience of life which will take place within and around the architecture, and which ideally becomes a daily lived experience of inspiration. This inspiration may be drawn from many sources, but is especially influenced by the use of nature, light and sun as key design elements.

Nature is With Us
While buildings originated to protect humans from nature, today we are more in need of reconnection to her daily and seasonal cycles and to the flora and fauna around us. Strategically designed openings and transition spaces draw attention to the surrounding natural environment, inviting the user into nature or nature into the building. This connection grounds, refreshes and restores us, even as we experience a sense within that we too are part of nature.

Light Lifts the Spirit
The use of sun and light in architecture is a key to its capacity to move the user. The creative use of natural light can permeate a building with a sense of optimism and energy. Exposure to full spectrum light has a positive influence on mood and outlook, but beyond this, the artful interplay of light and shadow with the architecture itself can cause a space to become an ever-changing work of art. The user’s experience is also enhanced by passive solar and cooling techniques that use the sun for heating, and vegetation, overhangs and strategic openings for shade and breezes. These natural forms of climate control invite awareness of seasonal changes taking place throughout the year, as well as a certain sensual pleasure or “thermal delight.”

There are many more ways in which buildings can bring inspiration to life. Spatial volumes, both interior and exterior, can be designed to be uplifting and energizing. Colors, materials and acoustics play a role in the effect architecture has on people. Architecture which expresses clarity inspires greater clarity in those who live in it. When spaces are appropriately scaled and proportioned, there is a physical sense of ease as people move through them. Activities take less effort when environments are well-adapted to their functions, allowing human bodies to move with delicious freedom through space to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Buildings can also inspire people by bringing a sense of art into the life of the user. When an environment transcends its merely functional aspects to relate to us emotionally or playfully, the user begins to experience life as art.

A Congruent Expression of Values
Just as our choice of clothing expresses who we are, a building’s architecture can communicate the personality of a community, business, family or individual. Today, many architectural choices are also expressions of values related to social and ecological responsibility and sustainability. Architecture which is congruent with these values becomes a source of inspiration to those who experience it in this sense as well.

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  • Rini

    This would be a fun gift for a teacher who loans out plinces or pens. In my middle-school classroom, I had to MARK my writing utensils so I’d get them back…with a distinctive topper like a fluff of curling ribbon. Something like this would have been super cute, especially with “Loaners: please return before you leave class” added on!

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