We all like to get recognition for our work but it’s also important to remember why we do what we do
It’s awards season again and my dinner jacket has been taking a bit of a hammering lately.
We all like to get recognition for our work (and I’m no different) but it’s also important to remember why we do what we do. And it’s not for the perspex trophies. Harraby Community Campus is shortlisted again for an architecture award and that’s great, the team are elated and mums have been alerted (‘that’s nice dear’), but the real measure of success of this project is the impact it has on the people who use the building and the effect it has in helping to galvanise its community.
One year after occupation, all the indicators are that this project is a great success. The community facilities – theatre, meeting rooms, IT suite, library, and so on – are intensely utilised and the school and nurseries that occupy the same facility are increasingly popular and improving. There’s an argument that any new facility would have done this, regardless of its architectural merits, but for me that would miss the point.
You only have to walk into the building and experience the quality of light, the delightful organisation of space, the celebration of activity in volumes lit by giant lanterns, and the obvious care and attention to detail that has gone into how this building fits together, to appreciate that architecture does make a difference. On a fundamental level, anyone using the building instinctively understands that this place has been created with them in mind.
This human-centred design approach puts people at the heart of design decision-making. It considers, first and foremost, how the building users will experience their time there. It focuses on their wellbeing and giving people the environment they need to flourish.
Clearly this means good daylight, fresh air, even temperatures and great acoustics – but it also means imbuing a sense of connection with the outside world, making movement around it a joy, creating places that encourage interaction, and instilling a sense of ownership. It all adds up to that elusive quality - a sense of place.
The people who use this building recognise all this, you can see it in their happy interactions. This is the architecture of happiness.
He is interested in the impact that the built environment has on individuals and society. He is an active designer, educator, and researcher. Current research and development initiatives he is leading cover end-user engagement tools, modern methods of construction, and design for improved health and wellbeing.