Discover more from DrV’s Newsletter, Notes, Essays, Articles, Videos, and Book Chapters
Societal Architecture as Language of Life Experience and Health Outcomes (Beauty, part1)
Our personal values, lifestyle, and our personal health outcomes are shaped by the buildings and public spaces that surround us
Architecture and Public Space Planning: Physical Inaudible Language that Informs Us of What We Can Do, How We Can Live, and What Values to Esteem
Our values, lifestyle, and our personal health outcomes are significantly shaped by the buildings and public spaces that surround us.
Beautiful public buildings demonstrate and foster mutual respect between government and public. Ugly public buildings demonstrate and foster indifference/disrespect between government and public.
Open and inviting public spaces encourage relaxation, socialization, work-leisure balance, exercise and health. Lack of public spaces communicates that people should either work (utility-production) or go home (isolation) or go shopping (commodification = turning people into production-consumption units).
Beautiful architecture and craftsmanship honors talent, discipline, apprenticeship, tradition, intergenerational learning and personal mentoring (yes, think about it) , respect and cooperation between social strata. Prefabricated industrial buildings/offices communicate that these are spaces to be endured, used efficiently (ie, get in and get out) and not enjoyed, that your enthusiasm and happiness are irrelevant or actively disrespected. Failure to respect, display, and pay for quality craftsmanship means that a society will not have a skilled labor force in the building trades and arts.
Doing it Wrong: The Architecture of Illness in Cities where I have lived
Before you see or encounter anyone in the cities of Houston, Dallas, or Bogota, just by observing the sterile architecture and lack of city planning, you know intuitively that the people in these cities will have a tendency to overwork, overdrink, overeat, and be overweight, stressed, depressed and angry.
Houston reclaims title of 'America's Fattest City', Houston Chronicle newspaper 2012
Growing up in Houston Texas as I did, and without any models or experiences to provide any architectural enlightenment, I was instinctively aware that the surroundings and lack of city planning were overtly antisocial and silently stifling for those of us who lived among the work-only sterile commercialized downtown, the overpriced commercialized midtown, and the endless sprawl of the suburban perimeter wastelands; all of these areas were/are virtually parkless and devoid of spaces where people could socialize, enjoy, relax, and move without direct payment to private business owners, ie, in a restaurant, gym, or shopping mall. Like many American cities, Houston has no public forum, and all of the major buildings are prefabricated from glass/steel/cement/aluminum/plastic such that they provide no touch of humanity and no employment for skilled artisans, thereby directly impacting and shaping/restricting the culture of the people who live there.
…long commutes, lack of mass transit (which requires more walking), and the weather are partially to blame for Houston’s indolence. The story also claims that Houston has more fast food restaurants than any American city: 1,034. Texas Monthly magazine 2013
Doing it Better: Architecture of Parks and Re-Creation
Seattle, Portland, and Austin at least provide parks and green-spaces, but they still completely lack the types of public forums that are commonplace in and characteristic of most comparatively large European cities such as Barcelona and Paris.
“The public realm has to inform us … we've come from, what kind of people we are, and it needs to afford us a glimpse to where we're going in order to allow us to dwell in a hopeful present.” James Howard Kunstler
Appreciating the Language of Architecture and the Communication of City Planning
Notice in the video and transcript (below) by James Kunstler how he emphasizes the use of language in describing the effects of good/bad architecture and city planning.
In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. Key language:
A sense of place—places that are enjoyable and inherently meaningful
Places of quality and character
A sense of place: your ability to create places that are meaningful and places of quality and character depends entirely on your ability to define space with buildings, and to employ the vocabularies, grammars, syntaxes, rhythms and patterns of architecture in order to inform us who we are.
The public realm in America has two roles: it is the dwelling place of our civilization and our civic life, and it is the physical manifestation of the common good. And when you degrade the public realm, you will automatically degrade the quality of your civic life and the character of all the enactments of your public life and communal life that take place there.
The public realm has to inform us not only where we are geographically, but it has to inform us where we are in our culture. Where we've come from, what kind of people we are, and it needs to afford us a glimpse to where we're going in order to allow us to dwell in a hopeful present. If there is one great catastrophe about the places that we've built, the human environments we've made for ourselves in the last 50 years, it is that it has deprived us of the ability to live in a hopeful present.
…these places, these habitats, are inducing immense amounts of anxiety and depression in children…
Citations and sources:
Dr Alex Kennerly Vasquez (introduction; brief Bio-CV) writes and teaches for an international audience on various topics ranging from leadership to nutrition to functional inflammology. Major books include Inflammation Mastery, 4th Edition (full-color printing, 1182 pages, equivalent to 25 typical books [averaging 60,000 words each]), which was also published in two separate volumes as Textbook of Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine (Volume 1: Chapters 1-4; Volume 2: Chapter 5—Clinical Protocols for Diabetes, Hypertension, Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Vasculitis, Dermatomyositis and most other major inflammatory/autoimmune disorders); several sections have been excerpted including Antiviral Strategies and Immune Nutrition (ISBN 1502894890) (aka, Antiviral Nutrition [available as PDF download] and Brain Inflammation in Chronic Pain, Migraine, and Fibromyalgia. Dr Vasquez’s books are available internationally via bookstores such as BookDepository, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks, BetterWorldBooks, WaterStonesBooks and his new Telegram channel is https://t.me/DrAlexVasquez.