Can design transform us?
Relaxing in the glorious sunshine of central France, I take the somewhat uncharacteristic decision to check my emails. That can wait, that’s rubbish, endless cc’d emails, this I’ve already dealt with and, oh yes, it’s that time of year again.
The Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling prize shortlist with its usual clutch of oddly shaped buildings that can only have been designed to win awards. It’s really quite depressing. There is perhaps a gem or two and it’s good to see that a couple of schemes for schools have made it into the shortlist for the first time. I believe that one of them, Christ’s College in Guildford, was on “Special Measures” until, according to the architects, DSDHA, their scheme brought new light and calm into the lives of pupils and staff, and both behavior and results were transformed.
Well, I don’t believe for a minute that any uplift in manners and marks is just down to the new building. It’s about the quality and inspiration of the teaching that goes on inside the building, and the same applies to hotels. It is absurd for architects and designers of hotels to speak as if the majority of guests stay at hotels because of the architecture and design. The reality is that most guests choose their hotel on the basis of the service provided by the staff and the perceived offering of a particular brand, or non-brand.
The best we can do is to provide as stress-free an environment for staff to work in so that they are more inclined to provide a genuine service and a comfortable and secure environment for guests – preferably with a good view since the first thing most guests do when they enter their room is to go straight to the window to look outside.