Sunday, November 15, 2009

Architecture of Happiness

This week's "Food for Thought" session was led by Dr. Patrick Lucas. He discussed how buildings can be either happy or unhappy. Buildings' happiness can generally be decided by three broad ideas; commodity, firmness, and delight. Commodity is how well a building suits its purpose. Some buildings are not laid out very well for the purpose they are meant to serve. The Bryan building is not very commodious because it can be like a maze to navigate through, especially on the upper floors, and every corner seems to look the same. Firmness is how well built the structure is. Many of the buildings on campus are very structurally sound, as can be seen by the styles of some them, that they are very old and still quite safe to be used. Some other structures have had issues with incorrect construction, and have had to be repaired to keep them safe enough to be used. Delight is whether the building allows the person using it to be happy while in its presence.

Delight in itself has such a broad definition that it is hard to determine whether or not it can be said about a specific building, as it is up to the interpretation of the user. A building may be delightful to one person, and not at all so to another. Some may view Moore Strong Residence hall as being like a jail because of the cinder block walls and similar looking hallways, but to others it may be somewhat delightful because it is their home and also the home of many of their friends. Patrick showed us how everyone can have a completely different definition of delight by having everyone choose a picture that made us happy from a collection that he brought. Every person had a different image, and also had a unique reason as to why that image made them happy. These different reasons for happiness also come into effect when people are deciding if architecture is indeed happy or not.

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