Architecture Vs Welfare losses

The city is like a living organism, a human body, in which every cell contributes to the whole. If any part, no matter how small it is, is being abstracted, the whole will undergo the consequences. For instance, urban fabric consists of buildings imprint on the landscape and their voids. In these voids, the circulation of the city takes place, either in streets and pavements or in parks and squares. From the aforementioned example we can see that buildings and circulation diagrams are inextricably related. But spaces and places are not the only things that contribute to the city. City is a multilayered, complex topography. Urban equipment, utilities, services, laws, human beings, transportation, geographical location, climate, fauna and flora are some of the components that their interactions form the city. If an architect designs a building as a unit, without taking into consideration all the factors which have been mentioned above, he/she will probably end up creating a subjective piece of art.

Exaggerated example: Hypothesize that an “amazing” history museum has been built in a city that people die from luck of water. Although some tourists may like it or not (subjective opinion), the locals will detest it. The reason why this happens is that residents think that the money invested in the construction of the museum could be used for eliminating their problem. If the same building was somehow able to collect water or the money from the tickets would be used for water collection, the inhabitants would feel pleased, because their expectation has been fulfilled (objectively). Welfare would have been achieved.

Unfortunately, there are many examples which indicate that most of the developers focus more on their financial profitability and not on minimizing welfare losses. One massive example of this kind of unsustainability is Dubai. Investors and real estate agencies wanted to invest, in short time, on tourism. They end up with a rapidly expanded utopic city, without taking into consideration its long term sustainability, which proved to be a financial bubble too. Dubai, as well as similar cases all over the world, has made people believe that what is financially profitable is cannot be economically feasible. This is not true. As a matter of fact, in case of Dubai, developers would have made much more money if they had built a more sustainable city which would not have got bankrupt. Welfare losses affect investors in long terms too.

Although sustainable architecture is not cheap, and sometimes a lot of money should be invested in construction, if the architect manages to obtain prosperity with his design proposal, he compensates for the financial losses. In my opinion, architects concern nowadays should be focused either on trying to build cheaper innovative structures or on creating positive externalities for long term social growth.

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