(…) Before modernity we lived in what could be referred to as the City of Being and Belonging, which amongst other things was also the crucible of culture, creativity, and consciousness. This is the compact, traditional city whose buildings line, define, and animate the public realm of streets, squares, and green spaces that are shaped in response to who we are so we feel that we belong and are at home. These elements of the public realm together form a coherent gestalt that is not mere residual space but is articulated to constitute the multiple stages of the theater of daily life. Within the contiguous fabric of spaces and framing buildings of such a city, we were the same persons wherever we were, known in all our aspects by all those around—an essential condition for acquiring self-knowledge and maturity. Most importantly, such cities served all of who we then were as humans, their experiential and symbolic richness nurturing the subjective self. The traditional City of Being started to fragment with the impact of polluting and noisy industry, and as mechanical public transport allowed the better off to move to the suburbs. This and the impact of modern planning—initially a set of defensive measures to protect against insalubrious industry and over-crowded housing conditions—led to the dispersal and loosening of the tight contiguities of the traditional city. This has resulted in the fragmented modern City of Doing—and of Dispersal, Disconnect, and Denial. In this City, free-standing buildings are distributed in a conceptual void in which you play out different roles in different parts of the city: parent at home, employee at the office, and passive consumer in many other parts. The emphasis on distributed specific functions (Doing) results in a machine for avoiding the chance encounters, complexities, and contradictions that lead to self-knowledge and psychological maturation. It also disrupts the continuities of the ever-present, ever-experiencing self that is the subject of the City of Being (…) To move beyond modernity, we need to recover the sense of community and belonging of the City of Being (…) we need to retain some of the dynamism of the City of Doing (…) This answer will be the City of Becoming, informed by an emerging and expanded sense of what it is to be fully human. This City will offer multiple ways to explore its richly diverse fabric and facilities and so discover ever more potentials in ourselves. The architecture of the City of Becoming will further expand and elaborate this role as it weaves a web of relationships in a way that encourages one to be aware and engaged, stretching you to all one could become. Instead of modernity’s isolated objects in a conceptual void, un-treasured and tarted up with smears of landscaping, the result would be a richly woven tapestry of relationships.Peter Buchanan, Reweaving Webs of Relationships
- Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
- Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.
- Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist.
- Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.
- Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.
- Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.
- Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.
- Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.
Principles available here
The Hannover principles were commissioned by the City of Hannover, Germany, as design principles for Expo 2000, The World’s Fair held under the theme: “Humanity, Nature and Technology”
(…) plant based materials have a valuable benefit for health, ecologic, comfortable habitat (moisture management, thermic and acoustic) and sustainable materials (…) can be qualified as environmental-friendly and efficient multi-functional (…) The use of crushed hemp (shiv), flax and other plants associated to mineral binder represents the most popular solution adopted in the beginning of this revolution in building materials (…) in particular, for hemp, for which the corners of the market are as varied as fibers for the automobile industry, foodstuffs for the grain or indeed the wood of the stem for construction (…) Indeed, many projects aim to create construction materials using one or more forms of lignocellular matter as a reinforcement to the structure rather than as a lightweight aggregate with an insulating purpose (…) More recently, projects used various sources of bio-aggregates, such as wood, coconut, sisal, palm, bamboo, or bagasse (…) Bio-based aggregate are coming from the stem of plants cultivated either for their fibers (hemp, flax, etc.) or for their seeds (oleaginous flax, sunflower, etc.)Full text available here
Agro-concrete: “A mix between granulates from lignocellular plant matter coming directly or indirectly from agriculture or forestry, which form the bulk of the volume, and a mineral binder”
Hempcrete is a mixture, in very changeable proportions, of two very different components: a plant-based granulate and a hydraulic and aerated setting binder. It exhibits multiphysical behaviour which is unusual in the domain of construction materials. Indeed, the particles of hemp wood are characterized by a high degree of porosity which results in a high capacity to deform, absorb sounds and have hygrothermal transfer ability: this is one of the essential characteristics which set hempcretes apart from tradition mineral-based concretes for which the granulates are considered non-deformable (…) the variability of the behaviour depending on the formulation enables us to adjust and optimize the performances of this material for diverse applications as a roof filling material, in walling or as flagging (…) It can undergo differential compression, contraction or dilation with no apparent cracking (…) Hemp-based materials are considered as phase-change materials (PCM): the thermal behavior reduces the amplitude of the variations in the ambient air temperature, whilst improving the thermal comfort by bringing down the surface heat of the material. Thus, the use of such materials is an excellent means of passively regulating the indoor temperature, and thereby decreasing the building’s energy requirements (…) these materials are able to improve summer and winter comfort, and stabilize the indoor temperature between day and night, whilst preventing the phenomena of condensation and dampness on the walls (…) 1.8 tons of CO2 are sequestered for every ton of hemp shiv used (…) there is a favorable impact on the greenhouse effect; the hempcrete wall constitutes an interesting carbon absorber for a duration of at least 100 years (…) Some studies have shown that wetting/drying cycles, used to simulate natural variations of humidity, had an influence on the mechanical and thermal properties of hempcretes (…) fungi may also appear at the surface of materialsFull text available here
In 1973, following the strikes that beset the British construction industry during the early 1970s, Alistair McAlpine commissioned a design program for his construction company, Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons, that aimed to increase production efficiency and improve labour relations. Cedric Price’s proposal took the format of a two-volume report and a Portable Enclosures Programme (PEP) which, while presenting a critical view of building sites, also demonstrated his ambition to go beyond the immediate brief, employing architectural knowledge and thoughtful design to respond to pressing societal issues and human necessities.Excerpt from the 2017 CCA Exhibition Catalog entitled: What About Happiness on the Building Site?
The project emphasizes “the social role and responsibility of the architect by rethinking traditional field practices and pursuing strategies to initiate social progress through critical research, new tools and experimental attitudes” (Domus, 2017). The designer becomes the moderator of social activity (Herdt, 2016).
To qualify labour on building sites, Price acknowledged the need to reframe the relations between the multiple actors involved, from government to service suppliers, from technical staff to workers’ unions. He often stressed the importance of communicating to everyone, from the workers to the administrative personnel, the purposes and goals of the report, introducing “a participatory form of Company planning” and resisting the tendency for decision making to be “too top heavy.”Full text available here
The theme of the 19th Oslo Architecture Triennale, Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth plays with the explosive power of this word to open up new debates into how much the pursuit of economic growth has damaged the environment and of the need to try out new solutions in architecture (floornature). The curators (Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, Cecilie Sachs Olsen and Maria Smith) argue that “architects are mistaken if they believe they can confront the climate crisis by merely rethinking the way they design buildings. Instead, it is the economy and the very armature of our civilisation that requires a rigorous redesign.” (AR)
You must be brave to peel back the skin concealing the ugly ribcage of our economic system, its guts ingesting gas, coal, trees, animals, minerals, water and clean air and flatulently defecating an endless stream of clothes, plastic bags and neat packets of processed food. (AR)
The program develops in the “Academy,” the “Theatre,” and the “Playground,” until November 24. (Official site)
I only bumped into this artist because of a post he made on Instagram I read about on Dezeen. Influenced by the group finch3d and their Adaptive Plan 3d algorithm for designing houses Sebastian Errazuriz urged architects through his post to “continue to think and design “architecture” for more abstract systems” in fear that the nature of the profession is changing and fewer architects will be needed in the future.
The finch3d tool is actually pretty fun to watch: a house plan keeps changing while someone presses/slides different buttons of a grasshopper code. Yet I fail to see how that changes architecture. First of all, someone did write that code, probably an architect, choosing what parameters can be changed and how. The very choice of what can be changed is already intentional; it expresses the hierarchical thinking of its designer. By transferring this intentionality to a potential client you only allow him/her to think within a framework that is already set. Unless the client himself/herself writes this code, finch guarantees no more freedom in planning than before.
And by allowing/promoting the use of such tools to the greater public do we really think that we are being deprived of designing? Hasn’t it always been the case in anonymous architecture? US building code for example allows people to freely build their houses on their own as long as they comply to state regulations. So what if that person used the finch tool? And why is the finch tool any different in its conception that the state regulations? They both perceive design as in keeping up with predetermined rules.
So, do I think that architecture is an endangered profession? Do we really risk our jobs by evolving and expanding into new realms? Not really. Experimenting with different design tools has always been a core activity of our profession. But designing is not just designing space, is it? Because then, a code like that could definitely jeopardize what we do. We don’t design space: we design spaces for the people who use them. And it is the elusive nature of human thinking and being keeps us afar from any certainties. It is this incompleteness, the lack of a single answer that drives us and will keep on driving us to explore what it means to be fully human.
And then I see Errazuriz’s breathtaking installation: a led lit image of the earth set in an urban void, an unexpected surprise event that invites viewers to contemplate on the “fragility of our existence.” (artist’s own words). And then I think: “go ahead and make as many codes as you like. You will never be able to codify the feeling/the sense of fragility of existence.”Because there are qualities and values in architectural designing that can not possibly be expressed algorithmically.
Architecture can never be generic, nor abstract. In that case, it isn’t architecture, it’s just building. Architecture in my understanding is site-specific, it is contextual, it is a means of communicating who we are not just in terms of our physical existence, but also in relation to others, it is transcendental, just like that earth image suddenly hitting you as you walk by. And if there is ever a code that does that, hell, I am gonna be the first to use it.
Fro the company’s site:
The base of the Wikkelhouse is ‘virgin fiber paperboard’, which is made from Scandinavian trees. This so called goldboard, is wrapped around a huge mold, with a method patented by RS Developments, while environmentally friendly glue is added. This creates a tough and insulating sandwich structure. By this wrapping process a heat insulation and construction method are integrated in a sustainable way. Afterwards each segment is finished with a protective film and a shell of wooden slats.Wikkelhouse meets the criteria for temporary or permanent housing. It is about eight times more durable than traditional construction.