“Architecture is not about words. It’s about tears”1, said architect Philip Johnson, who cried when he first saw the swooping, shimmering lines of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. The emotional impact of beautiful buildings can transcend the personal, even to the extent of improving the communities we live in. When buildings look good outside and feel good inside, our world is improved.
Bilbao’s experience is a perfect illustration. Just five years after it was built, the museum was estimated to have added EUR 2.4 billion to the Basque province’s GDP.2 A once-declining city became a cultural destination.
In a recent online survey carried out by the ROCKWOOL Group, 73 percent of respondents expressed a belief that beautiful architecture improves the dynamics of a community.3 Other studies affirm how important a building’s aesthetics are. Research by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment shows that the way most (85 percent) of us feel is influenced by the architecture that surrounds us, and that 81 percent of us take an active interest in how buildings both look and feel.4
Through history the materials we build with have influenced the places where we live, from the stature and gravity of stone castles and churches to the warmth and homeliness of well-insulated wooden buildings.
Today’s architects have a rich palette of high-performance materials at their disposal, so buildings can be radical and striking to look at while at the same time offering outstanding comfort and safety inside.
1: Fast Company, "Why Our Brains Love Curvy Architecture"
2: The Guardian, "Bilbao mayor wins award for transforming declining city"
3: ROCKWOOL, Modern Life Google Survey, February 20th 2017
4: Streets of Shame, 2002, CABE Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment