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DESIGN MATTERS - Cultural Values in Architecture 

Throughout history Architecture has been an expression of culture and the mother of all arts.  Inspired through design and knowledge architecture is both art and science.  It embodies the cultural needs and values of the society it interacts with reflecting the story of its time.  Good architecture is intentional and touches people who use it and touch it.  When an architect designs a building(s), including the space between buildings, they must reflect the people around them allowing the culture to thrive through different scales of interaction testing history with new innovations.  Architecture is an accessible way in which to share common values and become intertwined with modernity.  It truly shapes how we live and come together and wish to project ourselves in the future.  While architecture in the past may have focused on technology, philosophy, and aesthetics today equally valid are the effects of social, environmental, political and economic factors.  Amidst the pandemic and protests around the world, architects and designers are responding to condemn injustice and a renewed focus to build space for empathy, understanding, and democracy.


It is understood that both urban design and architecture have a direct relationship in promoting the quality of life in society. The culture of each society identified through its manifestations such as language, art, and architecture as a matter of human life reflects the culture. Every society interacting closely with structural, historical, geographical, political, economic and social features of society. However, Architecture that creates synergies between program elements, buildings, and urban environments leverage sustainable success resulting in vibrant scales of social and biophilic interaction in creation of place - a place, address, or destination within the built environment.  The success and value of commercial real estate or civic venues relies on this.   In addition, all successful projects benefit from a strong vision that inspires and promotes the quality of life, place, and experience.  This usually comes from a strong leader, owner or architect, who’s vision provides the compass for decision making and most importantly provides the inspiration to create for the culture it serves.  Within each vision are key success factors which help define benchmarks for success.  


Advancement in technology has largely affected several aspects of architecture ranging from form-making to communication.  If fact, now there is much more communication and knowledge sharing between architects, engineers, contractors, builders, and stakeholders in the design process as the world becomes more connected and a smaller place.  In the past buildings often reflected the culture of a society, but today many modern buildings are looking more alike and cities throughout the world are becoming more and more similar in a new global context they seek to inspire.  For example, religion played a key role in ancient Greek architecture.  Many of the infamous structures, such as the Parthenon and the Acropolis, were influenced by a particular Greek god or goddess.  Although many of the building's only purpose was to serve as a temple to the god or goddess in which they were constructed for, the structures still stand today as symbols of the advanced time in which the ancient Greek people lived.  In contrast, architectural design, as seen the Italian Renaissance or in the Bilbao Effect, can promote cultural insights.  Guggenheim Museum Bilbao design and construction of the seminal Spanish museum and its pioneering use of digital technology and avant-garde materials the project influenced contemporary architecture and art.  Bilbao without the Guggenheim would not be Bilbao. 


In a world that has a growing concern about the impacts of Global Warming and Climate Change, culture is a key element in the concept of sustainable development as it frames people’s relationships and attitudes towards the built and the natural environment. The issue of the role of culture in a sustainable built environment is becoming more important due to the growing impact of the built environment in achieving society’s sustainable development. Society faces environmental challenges, including climate change and urban population growth and responding to these interconnected challenges is at the center of society’s concerns for its future.  Sustainable development is an integral part of the society and culture, affecting all aspects of operations in the built environment.  Sustainability in architecture addresses the negative environmental and social impacts of buildings by utilizing design methods, materials, energy and development spaces that aren’t detrimental to the surrounding ecosystem or communities. The philosophy is to ensure that the actions taken today don’t have negative consequences for the future.


Design matters.  It reflects and challenges the expression of our culture in the true form of architecture.

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