Architecture For Show – Do we really need it?

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Architecture For Show – Do we really need it?

Scrolling through Instagram on a Sunday morning, endless beautiful 3D renders can be seen coming from #architecture, shared with thousands of views.  Is this architecture for show and do we really need it?

“Good architecture is not solely about dressing up a building to create physical interest.”

So what makes good architecture? It can be narrowed down to three things:

1. Efficiency

Architecture is not about aesthetics.  A good building makes a profit. Simple. That means it should be fairly simple to build right? Pushing boundaries is good, but is that efficient? Complexity to build, will not only eat away time it will also increase manpower and engineering. Imagine the next Olympic stadium to be very simple, basic and efficient. I wonder how much profit the building would make compared to previous years.


The first Olympic Stadium, Panathenaic Stadium in Athens


2. World Social Progress

Rooms with no windows and just a door is not a room. A well designed school will create a better leaning environment, good office design will create higher productivity.

“This should not be a race for the best building. This should be a race to improve the world as a whole.”

There is a debate to push boundaries of design and push higher and create shapes and designs to inspire. Overly designed buildings in already thriving large cities is questionable. Who’s lives are they improving? Perhaps the lives of people who are already privileged in this world. Would that money and time be better off spent in communities where it is appreciated more? World social progress should be progressing the planet as a whole.

3. Quality of life

Architecture is about ideas that improves peoples lives and unfortunately, some communities are less privileged than others. Social media and the internet is making the world seem closer together.

Maasia architecture house in tanzania

The simple Maasai Tribe House, in East Africa. House made from cow dung, grass and wood.


We sometimes think about this whole planet as a community.

“A high tech building rising in developed country, looks like a king feasting in front of paupers next door”.

Expensive Building  = Good Architecture

It seems like nothing much has changed over the years. 100 years ago, famous architects like Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe experimented with cheap housing.  This experiment did not last very long, because lack of money. As a result, these two architects pursued rich and powerful clients and went on to design expensive buildings.  Architects are attracted to wealthy clients, like flies to a turd. It seems good architecture and expensive buildings mirror each other.

The architect


There is a need to redirect the efforts of architects to serve humanity as a whole, rather than the wealthy elites showing them off their wealthy cities.  Good architecture can be expensive and worth it, but its not just the looks that are important. Architecture is not for show, it comes from all angles, improving peoples lives. Throw enough money on something, usually it turns out to be good.  That is probably why I choose not to follow football any more. I hope it does not happen with architecture too.

Russell M. Henderson (AKA Architect Russell) is a Chartered Architect has worked and studied in 5 continents and currently works in Tanzania, East Africa. Russell also creates videos about Architecture & Travel on YouTube , TikTok, and sometimes Instagram.


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