Archive for November, 2012
When we look at the trouble and expense that people often go through – as designers, builders, or property owners – to create and maintain modern buildings, one obvious question that comes to mind is – are we simply creating and using too much space?
The decidedly spacious home below, apparently designed to evidence traditional chalet themes, offers a great case in point. The structure obviously cost a small fortune to build and hardly can be seen as a model for sustainable and generalizable modern building.
Buildings Lost In Space
Though striking aesthetically, the building has little alignment with the functional needs and economic constraints of a typical family, or relevancy to the ecological needs and constraints of a society seeking to halt environmental degradation and climate change.
As suggested, one way of bridging this gulf between modern aesthetic expression and our functional requirements is simply to build and use less space.
Though this idea may conjure visions of cramp and forbidding dwellings, or corporate cubicle farms, this of course needn’t be the case – with a bit of ingenuity and some rethinking of the way that we can and might use the space we create.
The 16 Hour Test
To help engender progressive thinking about modern building design and encourage work toward a synthesis of aesthetic, economic, and ecological considerations, I would like to introduce The 16 Hour Test.
The idea that no building is an island may strike you as obvious.
And yet, our modern design and construction practices often treat each building as if it were an island unto itself…with designers, builders, developers, and building owners indifferent to and sometimes even contemptuous of each new projects’ surroundings and history.
It’s not hard to understand why this is the case. In this time of relatively unbridled and unexamined egoism and status-seeking, our norms and incentives encourage the creation of buildings that are different and even contrary to those around them – buildings designed first to produce esteem for their creators, rather than to enhance our naturally interdependent life together.
If Only Life – And Building – Were This Easy!
At the same time, the advance of construction, materials, and design technologies now allows many new building techniques and practices to be pursued. And whether for self-serving or more principled motivations, some of us are driven to use and test these new outer limits of design. But often this is done opportunistically or idealistically, and with little regard for the practical impact of our building experiments.