Designers have created civic institutions, governmental centers, public plazas, and many other spaces as testaments to individual and shared values. As spaces for gathering and exchange are necessary elements to urban life, architecture can also act as a vehicle to encourage understanding. Advocating knowledge while empowering the public, libraries celebrate ideas, curiosity and empathy.
In a 2016 survey of 400 employees in the U.S., Saint-Gobain found that office building occupants commonly complained about poor lighting, temperature, noise, and air quality, leading the company to deduce a need for improved lighting and thermal comfort in buildings while also maintaining low energy consumption and freedom of design for architects and clients. Their solution was SageGlass, an innovative glass created first in 1989 and developed over the course of the past three decades. The glass, which features dynamic glazing protecting from solar heat and glare, simultaneously optimizes natural light intake. A sustainable and aesthetic solution, SageGlass’ adaptability to external conditions dispels the need for shutters or blinds.
“We need a new spatial contract." This is the call of Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Venice Biennale 2021, as an invitation for architects to imagine new spaces in which we can live together. Between a move towards urban flight and global housing crises, the growth of more low-rise, dense developments may provide an answer in the countryside. Turning away from single family homes in rural areas and suburbs, modern housing projects are exploring new models of shared living in nature.
Few things irritate us more than exposure to excessive noise or inability to hear what we need to hear. Whether it's a nearby construction site, highway traffic, air conditioning, or a neighbor learning saxophone, research shows that noise can contribute to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, headaches, hormonal changes, sleep disturbance, reduced physical and mental performance, and the reduction of well-being. On the other hand, in an acoustically "comfortable" environment, in addition to listening to what we want, we focus better and feel calmer.
The concern about creating acoustically comfortable environments is often relegated to cinemas, concert halls and recording studios. But it is particularly important in learning environments, such as classrooms, as it directly influences the teaching-learning relationship. Acoustic discomfort can harm the process of knowledge acquisition, interfering with attention and worsening student-teacher communication.