Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Agenda for Design

Architecture is the act of sheltering in its most basic description. Yet architecture is not the creation of shelters. I see it as the engendering of the act of occupation or ownership of a loci where a physical site, a building program and human use come together to create an environment for activity/habitation.
It is not the construction of physical/engineered shells and surfaces that act as barriers to the weather forces, but the visioning of space and activities within and without them and the interaction/relationship with an external condition that architecture seeks to describe.

The physically built, or materially present expression is the means or the ink that seeks by their nature /placement / size / visual to describe that vision.

Architecture in a manner talks around the idea of living or lives as we choose to live them. It represents and speaks for our choices, our concerns, or visions and most of all our attitudes and response/ responsibility to the wider world we inhabit and participate in.

In an age of serious environmental consequence, exceedingly high cost of living, ever increasing costs of material (aside of their environmental costs),rising energy prices and a scarcity of renewable fuel sources we see a clear need to build responsibly.

Responsibility is the word. To be responsible is to examine the choices we make from the sizing of our spaces and their numbers, it also means to maximizing passive climatic responsiveness to reduce the energy loads required to maintain comfortable living conditions indoors. To integrate the use and propagate alternative forms of energy to reduce the cost of running and maintaining buildings. Using natural lighting and ventilation systems the exploit the local climatic character. In a country of labour intensive highly sophisticated building traditions it could also mean the use of local skills and local materials for their centuries of wisdom and appropriateness. These provide low-tech non-energy-intensive materials and solutions and help keep crafts traditions alive. To choose materials for their qualities of weathering, life, maintenance, but also transportation costs, and the possible use of locally available substitute to develop a more holistic view on material selections for building projects instead of isolated, visually informed or industry propagated choices.

To build with an economy of means - by curtailing use to the bare necessity, not necessarily rustic, but well researched and carefully engendered. So materials and choices display an utmost efficiency in usage and expression - aesthetically, structurally and economically. An attitude that tries to reduce waste, of material, of space, of energy, of resource.

An attitude of sufficiency but not of glamorous excess and consequent waste.
An architecture that seeks to maintain and maybe reinforce the connections of man, the site of his habitation and the participation in the larger vision, be it urban, ecological, cultural and environmental. Architecture that reflects this certain sensibility.

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