“Society needs a good image of itself. That is the job of the architect.”-Gropius-   

Through community-engaged design, the architectural design seeks to solve humanitarian issues such as improving living conditions, also known as social impact design. Architecture’s potential to boost innovation makes the opportunity for a future world where the environment and humans grow. 

The human being’s psychology can be affected by the tiniest details. Those details are what drives social change positively or negatively. The argument about the ability of your surroundings to affect behaviour isn’t new, even if some outdated theories have proven to be less than perfect. 

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Walter Gropius quote_©blog.miragesstudi7.com

Can architectural design really change the way people behave?

Humans subconsciously adjust their behaviours based on the environment of the architecture of the buildings around them. Every choice an architect makes cultivates a specific environment. The choice of structure, materials, light, window orientation, view, colours, and form all depend on the building’s function itself. 

The new trend where we go angles or curved lines can elicit a certain sensation. 

Studies revealed that people looking at curved interiors reportedly showed more activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), compared to people who were looking at linear decorations. 

Curvature appears to affect our feelings, which in turn could drive our preference.”Vartanian 

How do structure and materials drive social change? 

Architecture for social purposes is about understanding the social value and economic and environmental benefits that architecture brings to individuals and communities.

Hassan Fathi’s projects are probably one of the best examples of how structures and materials drive social change. He is the architect of the poor.  Poverty is a never-ending social dilemma. And sheltering this range of society is always tricky. Fathy believed architecture was for the people. He designed houses that answered the needs of the families living in them. He worked to reestablish the use of adobe and traditional mud construction as opposed to western building designs and material configurations. 

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hassan fathy_©https://www.archidatum.com/articles/hassan-fathy-and-the-architecture-for-the-poor-the-controversy-of-success/

Simple component; mud turned dust into shelters that house a poor community and created life, all while keeping them comforted and protected from a harsh environment. 

Due to its earthen makeup, adobe walls have a high thermal mass and can absorb heat throughout the day to keep the house cool while the sun is up, releasing the heat slowly at night to warm the interior.

The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School is vernacular in its form but authentically modern in the construction technique using the old method with a touch of modernity where the design team followed the local ancient water harvesting techniques to maximise the rainwater and recycled grey water in the school. While the building is oriented to maximise the prevailing wind and keep maximum sunlight out, the team also employed solar panels for the lighting and fans in the building.

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The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School_©Archello

How natural light in design drives social change?

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Natural light_©https://www.procircuitinc.com/blog/light-control-strategies-commercial-buildings/

An open space improves teamwork and communication, while compact walls and doors exclude in favour of privacy. The more natural light we guarantee in the building, the more lively the surrounding interior feels. 

Using natural light can reduce people’s use of air conditioners and coal. It’s a safe, clean, light resource. While it can also adjust the indoor temperature. It helps change the visual effect of buildings.  With the development of the construction industry, people are very innovative in architectural design. Therefore, in recent years, people have strengthened the use of natural light, making urban buildings more attractive to people.  That transparency offered by the glass to enter creates light and interaction with the exterior environment. 

Light allows people to perceive the size, shape, colours, etc., and form a  comfortable visual,  work, and living environment so that the building meets the functional requirements of use. Therefore, the lighting problem of buildings is always the fundamental problem of buildings, and natural light plays an important role here.  Natural light has the characteristics of uniform illumination,  low glare possibility,  good light colour, and good durability.

Occupants in daylit office buildings reported an increase in general well-being. The benefits of natural light go beyond better health. It reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and the preference of workers. 

How colour drives social change? 

Image 5_Colorful neighberhood_©Reader’sDigest https://www.rd.com/list/towns-colorful-houses/

Colours, for example, are to embellish, highlight, illuminate and separate spaces and indirectly affect mood. 

Every colour arouses a certain behaviour and transmits sensations. Like how Red stimulates passion, excitement, and love. How Pink refers to softness, while purple represents nobless and glamour. 

A neighbourhood where the houses are painted with bright colours directly impacts the people who live in the surroundings and see those buildings daily. 

We usually feel good and comfortable when we walk through an atypical neighbourhood with diverse and bright architectural colours. These neighbourhoods work as a focal point for tourist activities in the city. Tourists came precisely just because of the colours of their facades, like certain areas of Amsterdam or Positano. 

In the opposite case, where the neighbourhood is foggy grey, we can establish that those who live in it tend to have shady behaviour. 

The shades and colours that we use to paint the buildings surrounding us definitely influence our lives. Contemplating the colourful houses around us daily, going to a school painted sky blue or a lime-coloured centre of children’s activities will provide us with positive sensations for our nervous system.

Architecture represents the community. Pecurilary good or disturbingly bad, it attracts and interests society either way. 

But what interests it’s the positive impact on society’s productivity and wellness.  

References 

Portella. (2022). How Architecture Affects Society | Portella Steel Doors and Windows. [online] Available at: https://portella.com/blog/how-does-architecture-impact-society/.

Ahmed, H. (2022). Can Architecture Solve Social Problems? [online] Montagedesignbuild. Available at: https://www.montagedesignbuild.com.pk/post/can-architecture-solve-social-problems.

www.wilsonco.com. (n.d.). How Architecture Creates Community | Wilson & Company. [online] Available at: https://www.wilsonco.com/how-architecture-creates-community

Curry Stone Foundation. (n.d.). What is Social Impact Design? [online] Available at: https://currystonefoundation.org/what-is-social-impact-design/.

‌www.bgw-architects.com. (n.d.). How Architecture Affects Human Behavior | BGW Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.bgw-architects.com/architecture-and-behavior/.

bertini (2020). Hassan Fathy (1900-1989). [online] Architectural Review. Available at: https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/reputations/hassan-fathy-1900-1989.

Breeders, B. (n.d.). The Role of Architecture in Shaping Communities. [online] architecturecompetitions.com. Available at: https://architecturecompetitions.com/the-role-of-architecture-in-shaping-communities.

‌SIT Furniture Design AwardTM. (2020). /. [online] Available at: https://www.sitaward.com/the-important-of-natural-lighting-in-interior-design/.

‌www.mchmaster.com. (n.d.). Colors in architecture | MCH. [online] Available at: https://www.mchmaster.com/news/colors-in-architecture/.

‌Vangelatos, G. (2019). How Does Architecture Impact Society? A High-Level Look | Thought Leadership. [online] HMC Architects. Available at: https://hmcarchitects.com/news/how-does-architecture-impact-society-a-high-level-look-2019-10-18/.

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