Architecture to me is not only the aesthetics
and the complicated form of a building – it is how a space is formed when there
is an interaction and a harmony of three main elements: human, nature and programme
without compromising the existing site, social or economical context.

 

I am a firm believer in using architecture to
promote social interaction, growth in community and use it to affect one’s
life. This passion sparked when I was first introduced to the Igualada Cemetery
by Enric Miralles and the poetics in architecture and how a space can affect
one’s mood or provoke a feeling. I was taken aback at how a cemetery, normally built
as a place for reflection and memories could also help visitors to understand
cycle of life as a link between the past, present and the future.

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It was then that I knew that all architecture
can affect a person’s life whether good or bad and how architects have an
ethical duty to the community. My main interest is to see how public spaces can
affect the growth and success of a community. When travelling, I always observe
ways a public space in a city can benefit its community or the public in
everyday life. My personal favorite is the big canopy trees along the streets
of Hanoi that shelters pedestrians from the tropical climate of Vietnam, or how
the backalleys are fully utilized rather than used only for services. These
attempts keep public spaces more friendly and usable for the public.

 

I also think public
spaces if designed carefully with sensitivity to the community and site can benefit
a community. With great involvement with the community throughout the planning,
designing and construction process, Thornton Place in Seattle, USA by Landscape
Architecture Foundation is a good example of how a physically constrained site
can provide an opportunity to serve multiple purposes while also improving the
environment by introducing stormwater treatment.  Carved out from a nine acre parking lot, what
was an automobile-oriented place is now an apartment complex with a public
plaza and landscaping that provides pedestrian links to nearby commercial and
residential buildings. This idea can be implemented to the designs of new high-rise
buildings whether commercial or residential in Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example, is the
Gehl Institute’s Toolkit for the Creation of Public Spaces, Jan Gehl is an
urbanist and architect who married architecture with psychology and urban
planning and later on created a toolkit that encourages designers to engage and
collect data on how people interact with cities before planning and designing
public spaces. Jan Gehl’s studies was used to form urban policy and implement
public space and pedestrian improvement in Copenhagen which has spread into
development of public spaces in other cities. His approach is simple and
straightforward – making cities for people and can be used when approaching a
design for public spaces or urban planning. Form follows function all the way.

 

My point is, there are
many strategies to better an architecture if architects focus on working with people
to create mutually beneficial relationships between people’s quality of life
and their built environment. After all, I do believe an architect has an
ethical duty in increasing the quality of cities and quality of lives over
time.