Architecture for People

This article, Design Through Anthropology, published on is about a long time trend in Denmark to consider the end user when designing, whether designing a cabinet, chair, home or office building. The article points out that for centuries the looks have dominated function in the realm of architecture. Architects have removed themselves into a secluded and aloof position when designing, concerned more with how the thing looks than how anyone will use it and occupy it. Much more thought is given to the abstract scheme of the project and advertising their own suspected brilliance than wondering how people behave and why.


Image via Wikipedia

But the Danes, and particularly Arkitema, have taken a different approach. With a long record of environmentally sound projects, beginning far before “green” and “sustainable” were buzzwords, Arkitema has moved one step further and has begun to employ anthropologists. Their job is to observe and interview clients and employees to understand their habits and interactions to help determine what programming and spatial arrangement solutions may work best for the client and project in question.

We aim to reinvent the architect with both aesthetic and social awareness”

- – Holger Dahl

It seems strange that more do not adopt this approach, and that schools so rarely ask students to learn about and question human behavior.  If buildings are not built for the people who use them, then what for? It seems that understanding and studying human behavior is such a fundamental part of being a human that architecture, claiming its position as one of the elevated arts, should be more attuned to those it shelters.

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