Opinion: Better living

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Although we all interact with it in almost every aspect of our lives, we rarely stop to take it in. Even if we catch a breath and look around, do we really see what’s there – and perhaps, more importantly, what’s intentionally not there? We could call it the built world. The buildings, landscape, homes, roadways and all things formed by human hand.  As we blithely move from one space to the next, we seldom imagine the intent of those behind the design. Was theirs an entirely practical effort? Or, did they choose the aesthetic? Did they mean to move us to some sort of feeling?  Or, did they simply hope to move us from our car to their cash register with minimal effort?

Ours is a blended home. Child, parent and grandparent all share a single space. Yet each finds their own retreat. Sight lines, noise and foot traffic were all considered in its plan. Most wouldn’t notice, yet the effect is surprising. At the office, we blend various functions and personalities into a cohesive and engaging edifice. We spend a lot of time within the confines of where we toil. Why shouldn’t it be as thoughtfully considered as where we sleep? Can’t we prepare a place that is simultaneously serviceable and good for the spirit?

Let’s call it better living through architecture. Our surroundings can calm, lift and inspire. Just as quickly, they can irritate, unsettle and provoke. Can a color of paint raise income or lower stress? Perhaps. But ask if a properly arranged environment can increase productivity and satisfaction. There can be no doubt.

If it matters so much, do we think about it enough? Do we love where we spend our time? Does it encourage us to be happy? If not, maybe, we should fix it.


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