Buildings help make us what we are

Posted on August 11, 2011


Boris Johnson recently ripped out all the colourful meeting spaces at London’s City Hall after being attacked for saying they were a waste of money. As the Evening Standard reported, the mayor was criticised for wasting £1200 on two sofas! £1200! Blimey. I spent that on one sofa once and none of my family took me to task over it. We could have got the £600 one but it would have fallen to bits and been an, er waste of money.

Anyhow I was reminded of it because of this post that was shared with me by Phil Dobinson and by a C4 programme that Darryl Mead at The Team shared with me. In Channel 4’s Secret Life of Buildings they really get under the skin of the relationship between a building and people. Environmental design really can change your world I think (depending on who you are). Essentially access to food, water, light etc. does affect your mood. It simply has to.

In Phil’s post he refers to a Dutch Insurance company that created something akin to a play zone. Obviously the business case must be there for that. If creativity is important to the core of the business then have it. I’m reminded of level 42 at HSBC tower which is like walking into the business equivalent of the SOHO House Club. It’s boutique, it’s smart, it’s a business lounge; it says “we’re successful”; it says “you can be successful”; it says learning and culture as the shelves are stacked with hard backs, but it also say that work is serious and work is what we are about – it’s not fun for fun’s sake.

So buildings. Surroundings. I’m sat writing this in one of the kid’s bedrooms. How do I feel now? Like I need to tidy it actually.

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