Cultural Value of Architecture in Homes and Neighbourhoods

Samuel, Flora; Awan, Nishat; Butterworth, Carolyn; Handler, Sophie and Lintonbon, Jo. 2015. Cultural Value of Architecture in Homes and Neighbourhoods. Project Report. Arts and Humanities Research Council. [Report]


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Abstract or Description

Little is known about the benefits of architectural expertise in the
making of homes and neighbourhood. This project had two
workpackages, the first a critical review of ‘grey literature’, the
plethora of reports produced by industry, government, research
councils and others to find evidence of value and of the way in
which value has been collected. The findings from this workpackage
have fed into the second a series of consultations with industry
experts and interested parties culminating with a public
consultation on the cultural value of architecture in the Sheffield
University School of Architecture Liveworks. Together the
workpackages provide the foundations for demonstrating the value
of architectural expertise in this area.

Architecture is rarely, if ever, mentioned in any of the 100
documents that we reviewed. The focus is instead on ‘design’, an
unhelpfully vague term as anyone can ‘design’. We also found that
attempts at demonstrating value generally focus on the finished
product, building or place. As these are the result of an
interdisciplinary team the value of the architect’s input is very hard
to discern. Our primary recommendation is that any future
frameworks of architectural value should focus on processes of
architecture (verb not noun) and the benefits that architectural
skillsets bring to a project, rather than on the final built product.
This conclusion was endorsed through our work with marketing
experts as we developed a strategy for selling the brand architect.

It is difficult to sell architecture when there is such a general level
of confusion about what it is. We have for this reason gone back to
square one in developing a tool, an ‘I Spy Guide to Architecture’, to
help non-architects understand and engage with the skills and
values that have gone into creating their local built environment.
To do this we have had to segment architectural practice into
different value systems (commercial, cultural and social) and
describe the skillsets within each. Only once the skillsets are
defined can we begin to establish and promote their value.

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)


Architectural practice

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Nov 2018 10:37

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:58


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