There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself….The fact is, a person is so formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings. ~ Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building (1979)

“Probably the girl wouldn’t have jumped if it was open” I said to my office friends during an evening chat. To which one of them replied , “That was the first thing I feared when I stepped into this office premises. No common-sensical person will build in such a way”.

We were actually talking about the closed courtyard and the girl who committed suicide by jumping off the 9th floor corridor, a few weeks back.

We work in the new building that is right opposite to the dump yard and right next to a large marsh land. This 12 storey IT facility looks like a closed box with a closed courtyard with no natural light. So there are corridors for people to walk in and out of offices but closed to the open outside world. The courtyard has a closed top so as to have shops in the open areas. How cruel?

This incident happened two weeks back. Police came. The courtyard was cleaned up within few hours with no trace. No official announcement were made to other people. No official mourning. Nothing. The next day, a newspaper reported that the girl committed suicide because of her personal problems related to marriage.

Probably her personal situation could have been the main reason but as Christopher Alexander says “a person is so formed by her surroundings, that her state of harmony depends entirely on her harmony with her surroundings”. And I strongly believe in that. Especially on the need for properly designed courtyards (that are open) or at the least balconies in buildings.

People always seek some kind of private outdoor space where they can sit under the sky, enjoy the sun light, gaze the stars, etc., They need to see into something larger and more distant space. You would have felt nice while standing in your balcony or courtyard for the same reason. We humans can’t stay continuously inside closed areas, we get more stressed. When you come out in the open courtyard or balcony, then you feel bit relaxed looking at the distant sky and natural light.

‘No common-sensical person will…’, it still rings in my mind. Not sure when Orgs/Corps will get common-sensical with respect to people’s lives.

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