13 June 2024

Thomas Heatherwick’s ‘Humanise’ to be published in China

thomas heatherwick to launch the chinese edition of humanise scaled 2229x1222 acf cropped thomas heatherwick to launch the chinese edition of humanise scaled 2555x1002 acf cropped

Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio, is to launch the Chinese edition of the book ‘Humanise: A Maker’s Guide to Designing Our Cities’ at Design Shanghai 2024, which will take place at the World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center from 19-21 June. The designer will give a keynote speech themed “Emotion as Function” on the 19th and engage in a panel discussion featuring luminaries from the world of academia on 20th. He will also host book signing sessions at the booth in Furniture & Lighting Hall.

The launch of the book is part of a 10-year global initiative to help make buildings and cities radically more human. It encourages design and industry professionals to focus on real people’s needs to create human-centred, socially beneficial, and sustainable architecture.

Thomas Heatherwick added, “After a period of astonishing growth, the focus of development in China has already shifted to high quality, human-centred city-making. My hope is that my book and this initiative can support and encourage that. Historically, Chinese buildings have had an incredibly rich heritage of craft and innovation, from beautiful timber structures to hand-crafted ceramics. This has always inspired me, and I believe Chinese architects can now lead the world in designing emotionally intelligent places that make cities more joyful and engaging for everyone.”

As part of this initiative, the studio conducted extensive cross-disciplinary academic research and field studies. Paired with their experience in international architectural projects, the book offers new and important perspectives on the impact buildings have on public health and global issues including climate changes and culture preservation.

One of the commissioned studies shows that buildings and physical environments have a profound impact on human health. When we are surrounded by uninspiring buildings that lack visual complexity, our cortisol levels rise dramatically, leading to higher stress levels. Research from Thinks Insight indicates that 76% of people in the UK believe that buildings affect their mental health.

The campaign also explores the connection between boring buildings and the climate emergency. Each year, 11% of global carbon emissions come from buildings and construction materials, which is five times that of the entire aviation industry. In the UK, approximately 50,000 buildings are demolished each year, generating around 126 million tonnes of waste. In the US, about 1 billion square feet of buildings are torn down and replaced annually, equivalent to half the size of Washington D.C. These staggering figures have prompted Heatherwick Studio to put greater emphasis on the role of architecture in human society.

To help solve this urban crisis, Thomas Heatherwick suggests one simple rule: a building should be able to hold your attention for the time it takes to pass by. It also proposes three core mantras for the planners and developers who can make a difference:

1. Emotion as a function. Accept that how people feel about a building is a critical part of its function.

2. 1,000-year thinking. Design buildings with the hope and expectation that they will last 1,000 years.

3. Prioritise door distance. Concentrate a building’s interesting qualities at the two-metre door distance – this how most of the passers-by see buildings.

The chief editor of China Translation Publishing House said of the book: “This is a humanistic manifesto about architecture that will change the way you observe and think about the world around you. The author encourages us to deeply reflect on the buildings we interact with daily. He hopes that we awaken from the frenzy of function and efficiency to inspire and encourage everyone to think differently. He calls for a return to the essence of human-centered design, focusing on the genuine experiences of every individual.”

Thomas Heatherwick will be discussing the Humanise campaign with experts from various fields at Design Shanghai, helping to drive innovation in building design and sustainable urban development.

For more information about the Humanise campaign, visit humanise.org