Is the standing of human rights reflected in architecture?

In a conversation during my business and human rights study, a fellow student brought up how architecture may reflect the standing of human rights in a society.

Architecture makes us feel
Some kinds of architecture can make people feel small and overwhelmed, and some kinds make us feel safe and relaxed. We of course perceive architecture differently based on our different imaginations and experiences. Often unconsciously.

– and is made by people who feel
Architecture can for example be massive, large, heavy, «cold» or inviting, light and «warm». Buildings, surroundings and interiors can be generously or not at all decorated. Premises can be (easily) accessible for everyone, or not.

– to make us feel certain feelings
It is easy to notice that the buildings of religious communities usually are very large, dominating, beautifully ornamented and decorated. They usually have windows placed high up on the walls too, forcing us to stand on our toes and bend our necks backwards if we want to look outside. This architecture is likely to make us feel part of something important, but it can also make us feel small and vulnerable.

Are modern office facilities challenging privacy?
In a time where technology challenges our rights to privacy, it is interesting to see that modern work landscapes often are very open and transparent too. Lot’s of people work closely together. Being almost constantly observed and observing others becomes the norm in such work landscapes.

Architecture is a product of culture and collective imaginations, hence interpreting architecture in relation to the human right standard is interesting. Here are some quite random pictures of urban work or study facilities, churces and mosques to reflect on:

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