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.
Simply put, this test asks us to consider whether and how the entirety of any built space can be used at least 16 hours a day…whether for working, living, sleeping, or other private or public uses. The test is an important way to raise our standards, drive new creativity and innovation, and improve the efficiency and ecological health of the space we make and maintain.
One opportunity to make built space more usable in this way is to make space more flexible, so that it can be adapted to different uses during the day and over time. Without endorsing any designer or manufacturer here, the video below may well open up your thinking to the idea that more flexible space may not just be possible, but even more desirable, natural, and interesting too.
New Space Without Added Space
As you can see, simply through attentiveness and creativity, it is possible to innovate and easily pass the 16 Hour Test, and to potentially produce buildings that are larger aesthetically but that utilize much less space.
In doing so, we have the potential to produce buildings that are less expensive to build and maintain and more environmentally friendly, even as they might offer us remarkable new options, flexibility, and time and resources for modern living.
As always, I invite your comments on innovative building practices and our needed steps to promote more functional, natural, and beautiful modern buildings.
Mark Lundegren is the founder of ArchaNatura.
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