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As I strolled through the streets of Sao Paulo, surrounded by the towering structures of brutalist architecture, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy. The closed facades and lack of welcoming spaces made me feel disconnected and unsafe, and left me longing for a more inviting environment.

It was a stark contrast to my previous experience in Istanbul, where the city’s historic streets were bounded by human-scale, colourful and lively buildings, creating an organic and welcoming atmosphere. The open facades and abundance of shops used to give me the feeling of safety and security, even when walking alone at night.

Upon further reflection, I realized that architecture plays a crucial role in shaping our perception of our surroundings. Sao Paulo’s streets were designed in a more uniform and geometrical structure, with tall buildings and closed facades. Brutalist architecture, with its focus on raw concrete and imposing structures, may be impressive in its grandeur, but it lacks the warmth and hospitality that makes a city feel like home. On the other hand, Istanbul’s use of colour, texture, and organic design elements creates a sense of community and openness that is essential for a welcoming environment.

To create a welcoming and safe urban environment, architects and urban planners should prioritize several design elements. they can use materials and colours that make the buildings and streets more inviting. Incorporating natural elements such as plants and trees can also help create a calming and peaceful atmosphere. Designing buildings with open facades and varied heights and shapes can create a more dynamic and engaging environment.

In conclusion, my experiences in both cities have taught me that architecture is more than just the physical design of building masses; it’s a way of shaping the way we experience our surroundings. When done well, it can create a sense of community, safety, and belonging. As we move forward, let us strive to create spaces that are both impressive in their grandeur and welcoming in their design, making our cities truly feel like home.

Hamid Madarati

Hamid Madarati is an architect with over 5 years of work experience in parametric and computational design.  The projects achieved range from large scale urban planning and architectural design & optimization to small scale industrial design.  Hamid has participated in various residential and cultural center projects in the U.S., Australia, Germany and Singapore, Turkey and Algeria.

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