the complex or carefully designed structure of something.
In ancient civilisations and throughout history we have built our biggest buildings to reflect what is most important to society at that given time. Mayan Temples, Egyptian Pyramids, Roman Colosseums. Incredible and ancient architectural wonders. And for the most part of our British human history religion has been the priority. Churches. Their ornate architecture, intimidating stone structures and towering spires designed as places an entire community could worship old testament gods and take holy sacrament. Look at any British, historic town or city and you will see gigantic churches or cathedrals with ornate stained glass and heavy wooden doors. These buildings are closely matched in size to places like Castles and Courts of Justice. These were closely followed in size by war memorials, royal monuments and hospitals. Then to schools, universities, museums and other places of education. As a civilisation over the decades the architecture of our society has reflected the architecture of our buildings, we have honoured and prioritised: worship, remembrance, justice, power, health and education.
Look around you today. What are the biggest buildings our modern day, British civilisation has to offer? What buildings have enormous light boards displaying their logos that burn fossil fuels through the night just to display their brand to urban foxes and drunks? Up to 207,000 square metres of sprawling glass units surrounded by row upon row of car parking. What buildings have escalators and lifts with adverts of malnourished ‘models’ all over the walls, languorously watching you scuttle around buying things you don’t need? Humans pushing in front of humans for the best Black Friday deal? Buildings rammed full of products made by poor, marginalised and exploited communities in far away countries. Rich, white, cis men sat on top of them just getting richer and whiter. Our modern civilisation honours and prioritises consumerism. Be careful where you worship nowadays, the architecture’s deceiving.
In 2020 we have to look to the small buildings and our own moral compasses. Local high streets teaming with small businesses and traditional establishments. Markets full of stalls passed down the generations. Craft fairs full of eager faces displaying the fruits of a hobby. Farm shops stocked with selections of fresh, organic produce that took months to rear or grow. Online independents selling innovative products and services they’ve spent months researching and creating at kitchen tables and spare bedrooms. Look to these places to spend your money if you can. We don’t all have that privilege but even a few small purchases will go a long way in the hearts of the small business owner. The architecture of society has changed. Do what you can with what you have, make ethical choices to keep your community alive.
Photo courtesy of The Copper Lens