Good Architecture is Considerate
This text was originally published in The ArchDaily Guide to Good Architecture, Our first-ever book is currently available for purchase.
Besides denoting a show of careful thought, in architectural terms the word ‘considerate’ also suggests an emotional and perhaps even empathetic approach. And why should not it?
Good architecture can and should be considerate—in all the varied ways the word embodies. While it could start off with the motivation to do good and require an initial moral approach, this sensibility, combined with a meticulous knowledge of individual/communal needs and transparent communication, generates a well-adapted, and accessible built environment that can promote growth.
Whether it shelters, facilitates work or a public service, brings people together, or reflects an idea through an aesthetic, good architecture is always purposeful. On the designer’s part, this requires being attentive and open to all spatial, environmental, and human factors simultaneously. In order for buildings to serve meaningful roles in the lives of the individuals, groups, and communities that use them, the immediate and long-term requirements of these users must first be identified and addressed in the most respectful way possible. This also requires that this architecture be affordable, economically viable, and a response to necessity.
With the financial fluctuations of the global economy and growing wealth disparities in societies across the world, it is important for architects to engage their skills and knowledge to create a high-yet-attainable standard of living for everyone. This, therefore, involves devising an array of architectural typologies and innovative responses that mitigate construction costs and optimize utility. The financial benefits that a well-conceived and resourceful work can produce often exceed the price of its investment, both in terms of the project itself, as well as of the social and environmental (including other externalities) costs/implications caused by the development. Understanding the impact an architectural project can have is an essential part of the architect’s primary study at the design stage.
This architectural principle also highlights the importance of designing with a site-specific outlook. A considerate approach does not waste valuable resources on a program that will not yield positive effects or be adopted and sustained by the people and place it’s intended for. Often, the most successful outcomes occur when architectural interventions are based on societal involvement, ensuring a functional and sustainable result. A considerate project, whether built slowly or quickly, should be based on validated and frequent on-the-ground research. In addition, it should also involve the input of consultants, experts, and local crafts- and tradespeople, who can share their skills and knowledge to improve the development.
In our rapidly changing world, flexibility is also key to achieving truly considerate architecture, and many architects are devising smart solutions that render their work more adaptable and accommodating, for its current and its future users. This might mean that the nature of the project is one that is deliberately intended to evolve, like incremental housing, for instance or else one that caters preemptively to a rapidly growing population. Flexibility can also extend to imbuing a building with multiple functions—a carpark that doubles as a playground for local children, for example, or a community center designed to bring people together, while simultaneously inspiring wonder through its majestic form.
Ultimately, a considerate project is one that is both supportive and nurturing—of people, of place, and of society. As evidenced in the diverse array of projects included in the following pages, it is a piece of infrastructure that is built because it is necessary, not simply because it can be built. And its intention is to generate sustainable, durable, and advantageous results that will improve and shape the lives of those that use it, both now and long into the future.
Miyashita Park / Nikken Sekkei
Miyashita Park cleverly responds to Japan’s urban density with a public space catering to activity and relaxation. The park addresses the community’s multiple needs by combining a park space—a treasured facility in urban Japan—with the public desire for a commercial hub, as well as a city-center hotel to attract visitors.
Maggie’s Leeds Center / Heatherwick Studio
Designed to reinvigorate, Maggie’s Yorkshire provides holistic care to people with cancer. The project takes inspiration from nature, with care to its ultimate aim, wash with uplifting flora, inside and out, building up to the pièce de résistance on the roof.
Park ‘n’ Play / JAJA Architects
The traditional, single-use parking lot is reimagined as a space for a wider community benefit with a living green facade and playground rooftop. Rather than cloaking the entire structure in vertical gardens, the architects chose a mixed-material approach: plant boxes are distributed rhythmically across the grid, adding organic volume to the exterior, while two large, public stairways provide access to the rooftop.
Peach Hut Community Center / ATELIER XI
This is the first in a series of satellite community facilities being built to enrich the rural county of Xiuwu in China. The project was originally commissioned as a public building to facilitate culture and art education for those living in an impoverished area. To better provide for locals living in villages spread out across the county, the architects proposed dividing the project into smaller, cast-in-place concrete pavilions—a smarter, more considerate solution.
Quinta Monroy / ELEMENTAL
This flexible social housing project was designed to increase in value over time. ELEMENTAL built a complex of architecturally solid “half houses” in situ in central Iquique. Made up of a ground and first floor, and fitted with the necessary amenities, these allowed 100 families to be comfortably housed, connected by a social, outdoor space.
Green Square Library and Plaza / Studio Hollenstein
This project acts as an inviting “urban living room” for the community of a newly developed Sydney neighborhood. Playful geometric elements of the single-floor library emerge into the open plaza space in the form of a pyramid, rectangular tower, and circular window.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: What is Good Architecture?proudly presented by our first book ever: The ArchDaily Guide to Good Architecture. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our ArchDaily topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.