Discuss the intertwined relationship between Sociology and Architecture. How can Architectural Sociologists use social knowledge to improve building designs? THE INTERTWINED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEM SOCIOLOGY AND ARCHITECTURE: Sociology is the scientific study of human behavior while architecture is defined as the planning, designing and oversight of the construction of buildings. Sociologists study human society and social behavior through the prism of group formations and social, political, religious, and economic institutions.
How individuals interact with each other within given contexts, the origin and development of social groups are important indices by which the sociologist conducts his research and draws conclusions. A large proportion of our human experience and social interaction occurs in the buildings in which we live and work. Sociologists need not necessarily be architects, but architects have to necessarily be sociologists.
This is because architecture and sociology are meant to work in collaboration with each other. Architects are problem solvers and so are sociologists. The world today has faced rougher times in the past and the sociologists and architects, and/or architectural sociologists have stood up to the challenges and given solutions to the problems. In the wake of changes that are occurring in the world today, which I would describe as awesome and frightening, they’ve posed challenges for creative solutions.
I refer to problems such as the dramatic increase in homelessness in the world countries, worsening conditions of inner cities; the complex environmental problems like global warming, growing numbers of elderly-many of whom are poor, the rapid decentralization of economic activities; deterioration of infrastructure especially in older towns, the high cost of living in majorly developing countries of the world and high cost of living all over the world.
Each of these problems requires the savvy and expertise of people working in many disciplines, and architecture has an obvious role in helping to solve many of the problems I’ve mentioned above because it is implicated in all of them. Yet before we look at the problems, we first look at who the problem finder is. True to say that, some of the problems could have been easy to find by observation but the sociologists, the person who study the science of human behavior, has done a lot to study and get the statistics about the problems from observing and talking to people.
These problems have been brought forward to the architects and other professionals who should forge forward to either provide other creative and innovative solutions or proceed to implement the recommendations to sociologists’ proposals. While at the fields solving the problems also the architectural sociologists will study the human behavior to know how they have or will respond to the particular project.
Therefore architecture and sociology are intertwined in such a way that when architects are dealing with the projects, especially, massive projects, the sociologists will have to come into dialogue to divulge the information on how the people who are affected by project are taking it. These views are important in developing helpful and creative solutions to the world’s problems today because they assist the builder to put up a structure that is human friendly and with the human interaction well-articulated to suit the human behaviors that shall occupy it.
HOW ARCHITECTURAL SOCIOLOGISTS USE SOCIAL KNOWLEDGE TO IMPROVE BUILDING DESIGNS Architectural sociology has been defined in the past by scholars e. g. Smith and Bugni, as the application of social theory and methods to the architectural design process. Social knowledge refers to the resultant information from the scientific study of human behavior. Architectural sociology provides qualitative and quantitative research tools to anticipate how designs impact people on a variety of levels.
Architectural sociology addresses the purpose of architecture as it relates to our society. In practice, architectural sociology builds upon social design theory and uses research methods such as; Survey research, Internet research, Interviewing, Field observation, Secondary data resources and Unobtrusive measures. According to Bugni, an architectural sociologist, “observing people in their natural setting can provide clues for an architect on how they carry out their social interaction in classrooms, meeting rooms, office spaces and pedestrian walkways.
This social knowledge would improve the building designs in a number ways; 1. Architectural sociologists would use social knowledge to improve the health of the occupants in their building designs. For example, after the study of a particular group of people in different locations of Africa, architectural sociologists studied their behavior with the tropical climate where the weather would change from warm to cold or back unpredictably, this resulted in the resolution that for an health-promoting environment, buildings be designed with sustainable
features, including increased personal control over indoor environmental conditions, access to daylight and views, and connection to nature, to generate positive states of well- being and health. 2. Secondly, architectural sociologists would also use social knowledge to increase comfort for the to-be occupants in their building designs.
For example, a study done by architectural sociologists Smith and Bugni on how they would improve the comfortability of their buildings through the study of people in that particular place shows that these people were really affected with the surrounding factories which polluted the air to a very big extent. They therefore designed the buildings of that place with improved indoor air quality and with features and attributes that create positive psychological and social experiences for comfortability.
They emphasized that this nature of buildings designed for people of that place. 3. Another emerging social issue affecting buildings is security. Since September 11, 2001, Federal agencies have experienced heightened concern about how a building’s features affect its ability to thwart or withstand hostile actions. In the wake of the September 2001 attacks, every Federal agency all over the world faces a heightened concern for providing safe and secure workplaces and public spaces in Federal office buildings, military facilities, and other public facilities.
For example, sustainability principles might be considered inconsistent with using additional steel and concrete to increase blast resistance, eliminating natural ventilation, reducing window areas (daylight, passive solar heating) to minimize danger from flying glass, and increasing energy use from ventilation fans associated with high-performance air filters. These facts which have come out of a research carried out by sociologists are being highly emphasized in the building designs by architectural sociologists. 4.
An hospital that is concerned about the problem of congestion and flow of people on their hallways, if they wanted the problem corrected they would probably contact architectural sociologists who would take views and personal interviews with staff, clients and managers of that particular institution about the major problems with the hallways. They would hence improve the designs of this building’s hallways after a particular period of studying movement and responses of people in regards to this particular problem. 5.
Also architectural sociologists would study a group of people who are neighbors and at the same time enemies. The study of the neighborhood and how aggressive these two communities are will enable the architectural sociologists to come up with a building that can bring back the neighborhood restoration and enhance peace and unity between these two communities. A building design that will most probably have both cultures embodied in this one building to communicate the importance of unity. This building also ha to be of a very major purpose that constitutes serving citizens and not a certain group.
6. Lastly, architectural sociologists will use the knowledge they have about the transfer of information between people of a particular community to see how best they can increase the transfer of knowledge and information within the building. For example, the social study of a building where citizens of a country go to pay electricity bills will result in recommendations to have the building designed with small but loud enough speakers on walls so that announcements can be made and heard efficiently among the citizens.
Also a lot of posting boards will be put on walls to enhance free flow of information to everyone coming close to the boards. REFERENCES Book References 1. Inquiry by Design (2000). John Zeisel 2. Sociology and the search for architectural solutions (2002). Ronald Smith Internet References 1. http://bjsw. oxfordjournals. org/content/17/2/169. abstract 2. http://www. asanet. org/footnotes/dec02/fn17. html