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The Architecture of Memory: A Tale on the Importance of Design and Well-being

The Architecture of Memory: A Tale on the Importance of Design and Well-being

Architecture, in all its forms, has the innate ability to trigger our emotions and alter our perceptions. Consequently, a lot of light is currently being shed on the relation between architecture, landscape, and health.

In the 2018 edition of the Blank Space Fairytales Competition, Katie Flaxman from Studio 31 Landscape Architects, wrote a story of a father, Horace, an architect suffering from late-stage dementia and his offspring, Rowan. The fiction describes Horace’s journey in different healthcare institutions and how his presence in a building and landscape properly designed for well-being, improved his psychological and physical health.

Here are some excerpts from Flaxman's fictional story, illustrated by architectural artist Sam Wilson.

Courtesy of Sam Wilson
Courtesy of Sam Wilson

“It’s square, too square, this room with its freckled plastic walls and felted ceiling. The window, bizarre and pointless exhibits the red brick of the building next door. It casts a shadow where light should be… All buildings should point to the east, my first mentor taught me that. The sun should rise on your face as you leave your house and set on your garden when you return.” - Horace

Courtesy of Sam Wilson
Courtesy of Sam Wilson

“He was an architect, an engineer really. The best of his kind now doomed to four intolerable walls and a window that looks onto a fifth. I suppose the illness grasped him long ago; forgetfulness and occasional eccentricities. But the eye doesn’t see what the mind won’t acknowledge, “Aren’t all architects eccentric?”, that’s what my Mum used to say.” - Rowan

Courtesy of Sam Wilson
Courtesy of Sam Wilson

“Now this was a building! Oak timbers stretching skywards and framing generous windows. Windows that were flanked by birch, ash, and aspen. The trees themselves casting swaying shadows across the timber floors inside. It was compact but not small, unassuming yet captivating. Light poured into its form and the building breathed. Life ran through it as it had once run through the veins of the trees which formed its bones. Here, I could breathe too.” - Horace

Courtesy of Sam Wilson
Courtesy of Sam Wilson

“He ran his hand along the cladding, the rough timbers catching his skin softly as he went. The tall grasses rustled against his outstretched arm and without turning he asked a question, “Tell me. What kind of a man built a house like this?”... His question clung to me like a fog; humid and suffocating. “What kind of a man built a house like this?” I pushed the lump in my throat down and finally, a voice found its way out, “You did, Dad. You did”. - Rowan

The Competition awarded Louis Liu and Senyao Wei with the first price for their work on “Deep Pool That Never Dries”, a story which debates the validity of news reporting within the city, and how it alters the lives of those solely relying on it. This year, a jury that includes Tatiana Bilbao, Mark Foster Gage, Jürgen Mayer and Moshe Safdie will be awarding participants with the most creative architectural fairy tales.

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "The Architecture of Memory: A Tale on the Importance of Design and Well-being " 09 Mar 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/912868/the-architecture-of-memory-a-tale-on-the-importance-of-design-and-well-being> ISSN 0719-8884
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