Architecture and design resonates on a far deeper level than just visual beauty. Our spaces influence us and our experiences, and can shape our behavior, mood, and more. The power of architecture is something to be appreciated and respected, and the designers and architects who do so are able to achieve great things for their clientele, who will be ultimately affected by it.

The following are some of the important ways the power of architecture and design affect us…

Influence mood and behavior. There are many examples – throughout recent decades and beyond – of architects who firmly believe in the emotionally influential power of architecture. Unfortunately, the more fantastical beliefs resulted in a loss of faith in the power of structural design and its effects on our psyche. But because of new scientific research, more and more people are becoming re-enlightened to the fact that our environments shape us, for better or worse. An article from early last year noted, “The ease with which architecture can embrace sublime aesthetics makes it great for generating awe. Psychiatrists have found that awe reduces the prevalence and severity of mood disorders.”

Improve safety and environmental impact. Architecture isn’t merely functional and beautiful; it can also help provide protective infrastructure for better safety and a more efficient planet. The 2014 WIRED by Design event highlighted two projects that exemplify this aspect of architecture’s power… A power plant in the form of an artificial ski slope, which generates electricity using trash, and a storm-proofing effort in Manhattan that incorporates security measures along with community-enhancing structures.

Impact social and economic development. Beyond residential architecture’s affect on us, commercial design has a greater, more far-reaching impact on our community’s development and success. Design has the ability to contribute and affect society and social change, as Mark Raymond explained in a TEDx discussion in 2011. Building types such as high rises, shopping malls, and highways are primary structures of cities, which are privileged by government infrastructure planning because they bring financial benefits. But these structures undermine social interaction and actually create polarization because not everybody can access them. Land prices are pushing people out of cities, families need cars to get to malls, but they don’t have enough disposable income. It’s not sustainable. We need to identify small moves through design and initiatives that affect change, facilitate greater participation.

If we make a point to create spaces that are designed with these three main points at heart, we can truly access the power of architecture. We can use it to make homes, commercial structures, and ultimately, communities that are sustainable and to our overall benefit.

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