Architecture is a great storytelling device. It can highlight a meandering journey before arriving at a destination or it can chart an efficient path of one person’s daily rituals. It can hold a quiet moment for contemplation or generate a swirl of activity to emphasize social integration points. Our built environments, where we spend most of our time, are an opportunity to capture narrative in visual form.
I enjoy considering the way in which users of a space will interact with the structure and design. Certain details can consciously draw occupants into the narrative, such as framing a specific view. Other choices may be more subtle, like differentiating materials or changing scale to draw people to a singular area. I like visualizing the users in the spaces, and thinking about the tactile moments where they are drawn into the story. A hand on a warm wood railing, a glance up from a book through a window, or the laughter drifting from a busy room.
One of the most important stories to tell is the connection between human and environmental health; sustainability for our planet will rely not just on our decisions as designers, but on everyone’s choices. There tends to be a false narrative that natural environments and built environments are at odds. A well-functioning environmental system offers not only basic means of survival, but also benefits such as flood control, filtration, and wildfire buffers. Facilitating positive interactions between these systems and drawing attention to the effects of building occupants allows us to take an active role in fostering environmental symbiosis.