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  • Writer's pictureMaria Luisa Castellanos

Space Matters

Photo by Robert Linder of domed space

Whenever I go anywhere I notice the space. I doubt other people are as aware of the space they inhabit as those in the construction industry. For us, space does matter! Architects in particular live, breathe, talk space. It’s been a century since we were an agrarian society. Most people today work in buildings. The interior environment affects us. People will be more creative or less creative depending on the interior environment in which they work. They will be more or less comfortable in a space without knowing why. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my cousin one day. I like shopping at Publix. But we both agreed on how much we dislike grocery shopping at the Publix that is located on Coral Way and SW 87 Avenue in Miami. She didn’t know why, but I knew. It’s because most Publix stores have acoustical ceilings and the lights are in the ceilings. But this particular building, one of the newer stores, has the open web joist ceilings and ductwork exposed. It makes the store darker and it makes me very uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dark, but it is darker and the light has a different quality from what I am used to in a Publix. So what do I do, I avoid that store! So, store owners, take note. Uncomfortable spaces are less desirable. People will not want to shop there. We have known for years that color has an effect on people and so does lighting. The height of ceilings which are disproportionally low for the size of a room can seem very oppressive to people. Getting these and other design elements right is the all-important job of a good architect.

So if you have a retail project, or a commercial office space or even a residence, getting the lighting and the height of ceilings right are important. You don’t want to lose sales because the space you occupy is poorly lit or feels oppressive. One of my pet peeves is that the majority of commercial bathrooms are not designed for women. The lighting is usually fluorescent and casts a green tint. I cannot touch up my makeup in such light. I find it so annoying!

Even more important, the United States is energy dependent on other countries. We import oil from other countries. Buildings use 70% of the electricity used in the United States. So every time we build a new building, unless it is entirely designed to use only renewable energy, we increase that energy dependence. So as a people, we are called upon not to be wasteful. We should consider what we are building, how much we are building, and what energy saving elements can we include in a new building. We hope that with Biden's new energy policies, we will see more energy efficient buildings and more products on the market for that effort. So, it’s true space matters. Creating good spaces matter. Let’s look at lighting issues and energy saving measures. Call me at 305-552-5465 to discuss the ideas for your next project.


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