Many of us take the built environment for granted. It’s hardly surprising; the buildings where we walk past, live, work or while away our leisure time are literally part of the scenery. The way they look and function becomes an everyday – and often barely noticeable – element of the world.
But every building was designed by someone who had a specific purpose in mind. From the pyramids at Giza and the Pantheon in Rome – which, to this day, still features the largest externally unsupported dome in existence – right up to the homes we inhabit or the gleaming facades of state-of-the-art offices in world-class cities like London, all are the result of someone’s vision.
Architecture shapes the world we live in, enhancing lives, mitigating the impact of climate change, boosting culture and innovation, and promoting social interaction.
What is World Architecture Day?
How buildings interact with the societies that use them is the responsibility of the architect or designer, and it is only fair to recognise their achievements and seek to ‘draw the attention of professionals as well as the public to problems concerning cities and habitat’.
World Architecture Day (WAD) is such an event. Established in 1985 by the Paris-based International Union of Architects (UIA), which represents more than a million architects around the world, WAD is celebrated every year on the first Monday of October, in conjunction with UN World Habitat Day.
Each WAD aims to highlight an issue that architects can address through design, the day focusing on how those responsible for the buildings we live, work and play in can contribute to society’s health and well-being.
In 2020 the WAD theme was ‘Towards a better urban future’, while in 2021 the day encouraged architects to consider a ‘Clean environment for a healthy world’, with a series of online get-togethers to discuss housing, public spaces and global environmental issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theme for World Architecture Day 2022
The topic of this year’s WAD, which takes place on 3 October, is ‘Architecture for well-being’. The UIA said the theme was ‘in line with the designation of 2022 as the UIA Year of Design for Health and the union’s commitment to use evidence-based design to promote health in buildings and cities’.
The UIA went on: ‘This World Architecture Day we will go beyond the role of architecture in making our lives better, by protecting, developing and restoring health to examine how architects can better contribute to the physical, emotional, environmental, financial and social wellness of all humankind while having a positive impact on the environment.’
As part of the WAD, architects around the world have been urged by the UIA to organise activities to use evidence-based design to protect, develop and restore health in buildings and cities.
According to the UIA, this three-fold model ‘acknowledges the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental (natural and built) health’.
What can architects do to promote healthy outcomes?
The UIA, through WAD, wants to raise questions around what the built environment needs to provide people so they can grow and flourish, not least around the relationship between nature and the built environment.
The association also wants people to think about how architects can foster and protect that relationship. ‘It is the responsibility of architects, built environment professionals and policymakers to lead the way’, it concludes.
The UIA has hosted a series of webinars throughout the year covering how architecture and the built environment can work toward improving people’s lives.