“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” — Eliel Saarinen

Policymaking in architecture

What exactly is policy making?

It refers to the actions taken by the decision-making bodies of a country that are intended to resolve issues and help improve the quality of life for the citizens. A policy that is established by a government goes through a rigorous process of inception to conclusion, often involving a committee of policymakers that build agendas, formulate policies and help take them to adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination, if need be.

Policy Making in Architecture comprises looking at building regulations, bye-laws, standards establishment, natural environment, heritage conservation, sustainable development, material and construction, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, and design thinking. Policymaking helps in delivering quality, managing risks, and nurturing innovation to allow for maximized public interest of investment for the built environment. A well-regulated and connected establishment for policymaking not only provides an opportunity for the government but also for the private sector and the community itself to take a part in improving social, environmental, and economic development within the architectural realm, to be specific, for the welfare of the community and its future generations.

It is important to realize how the quality of the surrounding built environment affects the lives of its inhabitants. This sensitive relationship is crucial for the development of design and continual regeneration and evaluation of the built environment. This is also why activities in the field of architecture have called forth the interest of the public to speak up regarding issues being addressed using policymaking, and this in return, has helped in significant development in architectural policymaking, and hence, the quality of buildings being produced all around the world. Ireland is one such country, where owing to the amount of public interest developed in regards to architecture, a body of well-designed works in housing, urban planning, leisure, and commercial buildings has thus been developed.

Moreover, owing to the changes in the natural environment and system, sustainability is a pertinent topic that needs to be addressed whilst talking about policy making and is indeed one, that poses a challenge to the contemporary decision-making processes. It is one that needs a complete and thorough assessment of the role of architecture and urban design and planning, and how the integration of the environment and the cultural needs are to manage to mitigate and help reverse the effects of climate change. This is why policymaking not only involves multi disciplined professions to work together, but an intensive amount of research on the built and unbuilt environment is also required. This would not only allow decision makers to make better, informed choices regarding the building, usage, and conservation of the existing places, buildings, landscapes, and natural resources, but also a conscious thought would be employed for future projects.

In this regard, it is vital for governments all over the world to bring architectural policymaking an issue to be discussed on an international platform, so that better ways may be developed to promote awareness in order to holistically understand the role of good design on the wellbeing of society and communities as a whole. Quality control and efficient and effective architecture is not only a luxury, but it should be understood as something that concerns the entirety of the human environment and requires a vigorous amount of thought and sensitivity, that is cultivated through wide encompassing knowledge, exposure, and experience by the people handling it.

While it may be true to say that most of the architecture in our history was a product of creative and innovative design processes, truly testing the abilities of the human mind and body, it is also important to accept that the architecture of the future holds much more responsibility than just aesthetics. It should not only be viewed as an expression of our culture, economics, and social values but also a solution to the challenges we face as a community, to withhold and sustain the natural environment we live in to be able to achieve sustainability in architecture and planning. It is, therefore, imperative for governments to invest in effective policy making in architecture, to support education and awareness initiatives in the realm in order to enhance and establish a public relationship with the built environment.

This is indeed where policymaking can be recognized as a pedal of activity and change. With the help of research, discourse, model, and experimentation, it would allow professionals to address issues within the field, to encourage high-quality architecture, sustainable development of the environment, and urban design, celebrating cultural and heritage conservation that would allow architecture to uphold the status it essentially holds. This policy making would include contextual understanding, sustainability, inclusivity, safety and security, functionality, cost-effectiveness, and of course, aesthetic appeal. This multi disciplined approach and the far-reaching impacts of effective policy making is thus an interesting aspect concerning architecture that should be viewed as a platform holding vast potential for architects to be involved in to be able to become community change makers and leaders for the benefit of significant architectural development and the communities at large.

Therefore, policy in architecture involves strategies looking at the promoting of high standards of design and construction in building processes, to develop an organizational framework facilitating the application of knowledge and skills for the built environment, conservation of the architectural heritage, ensuring high-quality architecture through material and construction processes, encouraging the role of sustainable development and innovation in architecture. The task of regulating and managing the built environment for quality and sustainability is indeed a complex task but is one that would create the opportunity for long-lasting success, security, innovation, and welfare.


An Architect by profession, a writer, artist, and baker by interest, Amna Pervaiz sees Architecture and Urban Planning as a multifaceted avenue allowing her to explore a plethora of disciplinary elements. She sees the field as an untapped canvas; a journey she hopes would one day lead her towards social responsibility and welfare.