When is a building more than a building?
Pick a day this week when you have a normal routine scheduled. Pay attention to all the buildings you enter. It’ll probably start with your house, and maybe progress to work or school. Maybe it’ll include a friend or neighbor’s house, or a retailer, or a gym, or a restaurant or coffee shop.
You probably enter and exit these buildings day in and day out without paying much attention to them. But, as part of your daily routine, these buildings play a role in your life.
You’re accustomed to some of the retailers you frequent being charmless, warehouse-style boxes. But we guess you’d be uncomfortable if your home were torn down today and replaced with the same type of building. Why? Because it wouldn’t be comfortable or meaningful. It wouldn’t have a story. It wouldn’t have memories. It wouldn’t be pleasant to look at or spend more than a few minutes in.
That’s because some buildings are more than buildings. The places where we spend the most time matter. Take a look at your list of buildings for the day. Are there any others that would disrupt your life if they were replaced with a charmless box? Maybe, on the other hand, you work in a charmless box and wish it had a bit more of a story and more comfort and more meaning. What would that do to your work experience?
Even as cookie cutter commercial and residential developments spring up like dandelions, most of us still take for granted that there will be charm and variance and stories in the places we spend our days. But that’s not a given. Taking buildings for granted is exactly what paves the way for the cookie cutter proponents to move in. Maybe we eschew the adorably charming neighborhood coffee shop because of the shiny new franchise that was just built.
Maybe we opt for the chain hotel because it’s familiar, rather than trying out a storied boutique option with ornate details and a million stories.
These are small choices, but they add up. What spaces do you value? What can you do to make sure these spaces stay valued?