Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coming Full Circle

COMMUNITY: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage; a locality inhabited by such a group

Community is a major consideration in architecture and design. Why? Because usually a firm builds or designs for a group of people, whether it’s for a family or an entire town. Depending on the community, there will be limitations that are set on how a design is created. These limitations often reference style, context, time period, etc. An example of the importance of community is seen in the time of critical regionalism. “One of the notable aspects of critical regionalist reactions to imported Euro-American Modernism was the reaffirmation of community, of creating environments for groups of people, living and working together in ancestral traditional ways” (Roth, 607). This idea of designing for a community coexists with the concept of creating a community within a design. “What makes housing complexes successful are two essential factors: a consistent design that results in a related family of forms and an appropriateness of scale and an organization of spaces that arise from the ethos of those who will live there” (Roth, 607). Communities are particularly influential in the 21st century due to the fact that populations are growing and there is more need for things such as communal housing and villages. This raises another complication: Mass Construction while respecting the rise of sustainability. Sustainability is becoming a huge idea within architecture due to stewardship towards the environment and a concern about decreasing global warming.

STEWARDSHIP (steward): One who is actively concerned with the direction of the affairs of an organization

With sustainability, we have stewardship, or lack thereof. If Global warming wasn’t an issue, I’m not so sure that sustainable design would even exist. Global warming rose with lack of concern about our earth. We were ignorant of the harm we were causing, allowing the problems to increase in severity, and now there are threats that the world will come to an end. Right there, is the lack of stewardship. However, stewardship is rising in architecture and design firms, with new restrictions and alternate ideas. “The overriding issue is that of sustainability, which has grown in importance on a global level, and for the field of design generally. As awareness about issues such as scarce resources and global warming is raised, so government policy in the developed world calls for a more responsible use of precious materials and energy” (Massey, 219). This responsible use refers to the awareness of toxicity of materials as well as the lifecycle of these materials and how much energy is inputted into particular building technologies. This type of stewardship is the only way to go about design these days. For the most part, the more earth-friendly you are, the more chance you have of scoring a client, especially in commercial design. There are many ways designers go about sustainability. However, two specific ways involve renovation and deconstruction.

AUTHENTICITY: being genuine or real

The idea of authenticity in design refers to how a building came to be, whether it was constructed from scratch, renovated into a new building, or taken apart to be something more simple. One major design movement that involves authenticity is deconstructionism. During the deconstruction movement, designers were all about “composing an interior which looks as if it might fall apart, a loose collection of different technological and structural elements” (Massey, 216). This idea of structural element involves the exposure of systems as part of the design. A good example of this exposure is seen in Herzog and de Meuron’s Turbine Hall. Instead of disguising the systems, “they exploited the might of the vast Turbine Hall as the key public space of the building. Industrial materials are laid bare” (Massey, 228). Renovation is also a major part of authentic versus artificial. Preservation and recycling of existing buildings was a major part of a step towards sustainability in both hotel design and commercial building. This consistent presence of architecture, regardless of change, is supported by Eisenman “… there is always some being-in as opposed to the condition of being-as. It is the being in that architecture that is questioned” (Massey, 602).

INNOVATION: the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device

Sustainable design is an innovation in itself. As far back as Egypt goes, people have never been worrying about how their use of products would impact the future. Sure, there have been considerations about how long materials would last, and how the buildings would be used in the future, but as far as consideration of the environment goes, sustainable concern is at an extreme. Like I said above, sustainability has caused many new considerations and limitations in design, causing designers to come up with new ways to approach building projects. For example, Ken Yeang came up with a new building type appropriate for the sustainable movement. “By the early 1980’s, Yeang had begun to define a new building type, the tropical skyscraper, exploiting strategies for reducing the need for energy consumption (especially for ventilation and cooling), for incorporating elevated masses of landscaping, and for facilitating neighborhoods or communities of people in the high-rise building” (Roth, 609). The computer also became a major part of design work. Technologies were growing and it became easier to develop ideas with computer programs. “The computer now makes possible the virtual creation of building projects that were never executed as well as the ability to recover buildings and environments of antiquity that no longer survive” (Roth, 611).

I know that there is usually a summary at the end of these, but I am going to take the last paragraph of Roth and analyze it and relate it to all four words above.

“Architecture is the art we cannot escape; it is over, under, around us virtually every second of our lives. An architecture of substance is more than simply a benevolent, protective umbrella; at its best, it interacts with us on our behalf, informing our memory, allowing us to become more human.” [Interaction has to do with community in that architecture is built for a specific group of people. This interaction is also an example of stewardship, in that community is a concern of the designer or firm]. “It is far more than shelter, more than a commodity for speculation, more than an expedient package, more than a capricious, artistic gambol. It is the built record of how we have ordered our cultural priorities, of who and what we are, and what we believe in.” [This idea of who we are and what we believe in has to do with authenticity, and someone following their genuine beliefs. These beliefs then create an authentic design that is not only real, but also original. Different from the others]. “The many contemporary expressions of modernism, how they reflect regional desires and needs, and how they respond to divergent theories on the role of architecture coupled with the emerging changes in how buildings are conceived and designed, make it impossible to say how architecture around the globe will develop in the century now opening- except to say that it will be ever changing and stimulating.” [This everchanging architecture is constantly raising new ideas and concepts for design. This is an example of innovation]

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