GMAT : Analysis of An Issue
83. We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.
Explain what you think this statement means and discuss the extent to which you do or do not agree with it. Support your views with reasons and / or specific examples from your experience, observations or reading.
I believe this statement should be interpreted broadly to mean that we are influenced by the exterior shape of buildings as well as by the arrangement of multiple buildings and by a building's various architectural and aesthetic elements. While I doubt that buildings determine our character or basic personality traits, I agree that they can greatly influence our attitudes, moods and even life styles.
On the structural and multi-structural scales, the arrangement of numerous buildings can shape us in profound ways. High-density commercial districts with numerous skyscrapers might result in stressful commuting, short tempers, a feeling of dehumanization and so on. A campus" arrangement of smaller, scattered buildings can promote health, well-being and stress reduction by requiring frequent brisk outdoor jaunts. Buildings with multiple floors can also shape us literally by requiring exercise up and down stairs.
As for floor plans and internal space, physical arrangement of works paces can shape workers' attitudes toward work and toward one another. Sitting in small, gray cubicles lined up in militaristic rows is demoralizing leaving workers with the feeling that they are little more than impersonal cogs of some office machine. But creative design of works paces in varied arrangements can create feelings of uniqueness and importance in each employee. Workspace relationships that suggest some sort of hierarchy may breed competitiveness among co-workers and may encourage a more bureaucratic approach to work.
Finally, as for aesthetic elements, the amount of light and location of windows in a building can shape us in significant psychological ways. For most people, daily tasks are more enjoyable in settings with plenty of natural light and at least some natural scenery. Choice of colours can influence our mood, concentration and efficiency. Numerous psychological studies show that different colours influence behaviour, attitudes and emotions in distinctly different ways. Yellow enhances appetite. Blue has a tranquilizing effect. And gray is the colour of choice for companies who want their workers to be subservient.
In sum, our buildings, the space around them and the space within them, can affect us in important ways that influence our outlook on life, relationships with co-workers and even physical health and well-being.