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[Reposted] The Observer: "The inescapable power of architecture"

"In an extract from his new book, our architecture critic deconstructs the mysterious ways in which buildings shape our lives" 

(Hammerson's 'Pile 'Em High at Brent Cross'?)
Link to The Observer

"It is easy to see the absurdity of a belief in the healing power of masonry – it is a superstition, animism – but people fall for it again and again and they are not entirely wrong to do so. For, if it is a mistake to think that a house can mend a family, the opposite is also false. That is, the built background to our lives is not irrelevant, either. To put the case negatively, the wrong kinds of buildings can inflict misery and frustration. A world in which the dwelling becomes a purely technical question is not appealing.

"To be more positive, we want buildings to embellish, beautify, dignify, distract or divert. We want them to propose and to enable: to suggest what could be, to make things possible, to give freedoms. The idea of home, whether expressed as stable cosmos or as nomadic wandering, shows a basic truth, which is that the space we occupy is not neutral to us.

"We cannot look at it with detachment. We are in it, we make it and it makes us. What are mysterious are the ways in which physical surroundings interact with our desires. If Dean Gardens seems over-determined and clumsy, where exactly did it go wrong? How might a builder or an architect make a happier relation of stuff to humanity?"

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