A few years ago I took a contemporary art class that changed my outlook not only on art and art history but on everything that is going on around me. What before would sometimes provoke those typical responses of "Oh, I could do that"or "I just don't get that" now gives me a little bit of a natural high.
What is so important and beneficial about art, whether contemporary or otherwise, is that it provides a concrete example of very poignant perspectives on life, culture, emotions... just the human experience. Art flourishes when it is able to and is valuable for that very reason.
What recently has struck a chord in me are the Maggie's Centres. They are centers that provide care for cancer patients in Europe. Famous architects like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Rogers have taken on these projects and constructed these centers.
Plan for Richard Rogers
Although there are no medical services being provided in the centers it seems impossible that they wouldn't have some positive effect. They are there for cancer patients to meet with their families and friends, to be counseled and to share information with other patients.
When you see what can be done with architecture it makes you think differently about what you have always just accepted as what a building looks like. I mean, I imagine building blocks stacked atop one another in a straight line. Something like that in comparison to these Centres seems strictly utilitarian. They are useful, practical, serious. But, this idea of bringing stimulating architecture to a place where healing is supposed to take place is really powerful.
If a building made of cubes standing straight in the air provides utility, then I also understand why a hospital would be built like that too. But, if you take it a step further, past the initial shock of fixing problems and beyond being submerged in the stress and anxiety of tragedy that is often a part of the hospital or assisted living environment it becomes clear that everyone in these areas is working together to protect life. And because life has much more purpose than to be strictly utilitarian and practical it is only appropriate that such a building's purpose would be represented in its structure. If not only to represent the endeavors of the inside, then to enhance the effects.