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Clare Hudson
Clare Hudson
  • 1 Minute Read
  • 02nd August 2011

The Secret Life of Buildings and how they affect us

“We spend 85% of our lives inside but have you ever stopped to think how a design of a building is affecting you?” The Secret Life of Buildings

Yesterday was the start of architect, Tom Dyckhoff’s new channel 4 series, The Secret Life of Buildings. The series investigates homes and workplaces in the UK from the perspective of the user, rather than icons of art or as commercial assets. One of the questions asked was: “Are we so obsessed with shiny icons that we have stopped thinking about the people inside them?”

Dyckhoff describes the Gherkin building in the City of London as, “fabulous from the outside, but inside it’s completely banal and it’s not functioning very well in terms of workplace culture. Slowly but surely we got some people to speak out with their complaints, for instance, the complete lack of social mixing between the bosses and the workers, or between the different tenants of the building.”

Dyckhoff commented that landmark buildings like the Gherkin are often built to be bought and sold and not necessarily designed particularly well for the employees who work inside.

UK new-build homes were also criticised for being the smallest in Europe, many of which are only 76 sq metres. Denmark has a similar population density to the UK but their homes are on average, twice the size. Australian homes are the largest.

Dyckhoff also said: “Most new-build homes built in this country don’t have architects anywhere close to them, which is a scandal. They’re all designed by building companies, which may have architectural consultants, but they’re basically just pushing out a product exactly like, say, a packet of sweets.”

Our homes, workplaces and or the buildings where we spend the majority of our time, should in theory make us feel happy, healthy and secure, but is this actually the case for many of our new UK buildings?

The University of California conducts experiments to show how different building interiors, designs and light levels can drastically affect a person both physically and emotionally. It seems that many new-build houses have poor levels of light, significantly affecting our internal body clocks and health.

Perhaps the solution is to design all future buildings with the Golden Ratio in mind; a mathematical formula that occurs throughout nature and in beautiful objects. Perhaps we should be given more freedom to design and build our own houses, such as the experimental housing development, Almere in the Netherlands. What do you think? Are you a fan of new-build houses? Are you happy with your work space interior? Please let us know by commenting below.


Are Britain’s buildings bad for our health?