Buildings matter because bodies matter


In the middle of World War II, the chamber of the House of Commons was destroyed. As Britain’s parliamentary body deliberated how and when it would rebuild, Prime Minister Winston Churchill rose to defend reconstructing it in the exact style and layout as the previous version. He opened his speech with what is now a classic statement of the importance of architecture: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.“ Churchill went on to argue that the shape and size of the room were integral to how the House of Commons functioned. Among other reasons, he contended that the small room was necessary for their conversational way of doing business, as the smaller room inevitably made the discussion more intimate.