Sarah W. Goldhagen taught for ten years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and spent many years as the Architecture Critic for the New Republic. She’s written about buildings, cities, and landscapes for publications all over the world. Sarah’s new book, Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives is a thoroughly entertaining, eye-opening manifesto arguing that the buildings we live and work in deeply affect us, physically and psychologically, and that we can’t afford the soul-crushing architecture we mostly subject ourselves to.
In this episode, Sarah discusses:
-How her book, Welcome to Your World is a shift from the work she previously did.
-“Blindsight” and how we take in information subconsciously or nonconsciously.
-How there is no such thing as a neutral built environment. It is either helping you or hurting you.
-The story of when she had to change her setting while writing her dissertation.
-What creative people can do to put themselves in a better environment while they are creating.
-Complex natural light, views of nature, and tactile experiences.
-How her interest in cognitive neuroscience and inspiration from Alvar Aalto is what drove her to write the book.
-Some of the big challenges that she was faced with in taking on such a big project.
-Her advice to someone who is thinking about taking on a project that requires a large amount of research and learning.
-How she was slammed by her colleagues after an early presentation of material from her book, and how she courageously went forward with the book anyway.
-The traveling and photography that she did for the book.
-The pros and cons of using pictures of architecture.
Sarah's Final Push will inspire you to think about why you create and to strive less and teach more!
“People should recognize that the built environment and its quality and design, has a far greater impact on people than anybody previously realized.”
“There is no such thing as a neutral streetscape, building, or landscape. If it’s not doing something good for you, chances are it’s doing something really not good for you.”
“Creativity is such a demanding cognitive state that you don’t want anything in the built environment that’s going to be tugging at you in any way.”
“I ended up delving into a lot of different fields and then it was up to me to figure out what the paradigm of how people experience their environments actual is based on these studies, most of which didn’t have much to do with the built environment.”
“It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you just have to do what you believe might help or might bring people to new ideas and new places.”