In rejecting the spiritual we lose the chance to build connection

Flora Samuel crop

Earlier generations had no need to measure social value because it was innate, writes Flora Samuel

We wouldn’t even need to think about measuring social value if we hadn’t, as a culture, managed to numb out our responsibility for others, particularly those we can’t see on the other side of the world.

For me the best architecture unfolds as a series of questions and provocations to live our best (examined) lives. Until very recently there was considerable (unstated) consensus on the fact that the role of architects was to create spiritual value – perhaps the most important aspect of social value – facilitating connection between people and the sacred. Yet (certainly UK) architecture culture remains resolutely secular.

I must admit to explicitly sidestepping the issue of spiritual value in my book Why Architects Matter, but I believe that consciously building the numinous into buildings and places is going to become increasingly important over the coming century as there is greater recognition of the profound, barely explored, connections between people and their environments – with biophilia, a love of nature, being one more socially acceptable way to describe this connection.

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