The difference between fast-food and poorly designed buildings

Fast food hamburger and chips

The difference between fast-food and poorly designed buildings

Written by Raymond Smith

With the unprecedented rapid growth and development that we have experienced in the Overstrand towns such as Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay over the past few years, it is indeed sad to observe the lack of quality in the architectural expressions. In fact, it would be erroneous to regard most of these buildings as architecture, since they are simply structures built as quickly as possible with no regard for street, town or landscape character.

A lasting, public art form

In the same way that it takes time to prepare a good meal that is healthy, nurturing and lifts the spirit as a result of its overall gastronomic experience, good architecture also takes time and consideration to realise. The fine balance between the presentation, colours, aroma, textures and tastes, all work together; culminating into fine dining as opposed to a fast- food take-away. Good sensible architectural design requires careful observation of the context to ensure a relationship with sense-of-place, balancing elements such as scale, massing, proportions, solids, voids, materials, textures and light, articulated in a manner which forms a cohesive visual language, expressing a clear intent and purpose.

The big difference between fast food and poorly designed buildings is the fact that the food will be digested, while the building will remain; impacting negatively on the context and our experience of street and townscape for many decades. It is for this reason that architecture is referred to as a public art form with which we all have to live with for a long time.

Driving through residential areas, it is obvious which owners approached their projects responsibly with care, as opposed to those for whom it was just a job to get done without self- awareness and consideration to others or context. Although we do not all have the same taste, there are certain basics which translates into acceptable buildings with which any skilled designer can assist with.