Form & function balanced with space & light. Integrating new technologies with remarkably old green building techniques brings together a new world with old-world style.
Precisely integrating annual Sun angles into modern homes not only creates ideal winter and summer environments, but it also pushes the architectural envelope forward and back to its roots at the same time.
Out with the old way, in with the new…
Let’s face it, architects love to make statements with their designs and often the demands of the project, the owners, and the budget took precedence over everything else. We have been living with the results ever since. But now things are changing and going green is going on all over the place. But going green itself is evolving. What started out as a great idea to reduce our carbon footprint, is evolving into a new way of living in harmony with our environment. To live in harmony with the environment is a good thing, listening to the site and its environment is a new way.
The next step would be to bring more of the environment into the home or building. While green roofs and green walls can be quite attractive and soothing they also have wider applications yet to be explored. Not only can your home produce electricity with solar PV, water with air to water machines, but now also fresh fruits and vegetables from your integrated home or office garden. Integrating Bio-systems in building structures has so many benefits. The least of which is the excellent curb appeal. But to take another example go ahead and look in your kitchen or in the refrigerator and notice the fruits or vegetables you have there. For most of you these products have traveled hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to arrive at your local store. Then you had to go and get them, pay for them and bring them back. Think of the energy that is saved if that same produce was grown and harvested and eaten without leaving the house.
Oh my…. And to top it all off its fresh, tasty and almost free. Is your mouth watering yet?
Food for thought………
Architecture coming full circle that last…
Architecture has been through a great many changes spanning thousands of years of human history. I find it fascinating that only through modern technology and technique are we discovering the architectural significance of some of the oldest structures on the planet. Oddly enough many of these structures date back thousands of years sometimes tens of thousands of years BC. And while the debate roars on with archaeologists and scientists, there are striking similarities between them all. They are all built for precise celestial alignments and solar cycles (namely the winter and summer solstice). Hmmm…isn’t that interesting… (all the while I can feel my fascination heading towards obsession). Well it does make a tremendous amount of sense.
One of the largest performance factors of a building is the Sun affect on the building. Creating designs with celestial alignments allows us to create structures that protect from the hot summer sun and yet allow the winter sunlight to penetrate the building where desired. One of my core design criteria has always been to have morning Sun in the kitchen and evening Sun in the living room or great room. But this technique takes it to a new level not only in terms of performance, but the structure also becomes a sundial indicating the winter and summer solstice. There’s something about this that just feels right. To be connected with the cycles of the planet and our solar system reconnects us in a way long-lost in the modern world. Even some of the most ancient architectural methods understood that the structure of the building can promote wellness and well-being to its occupants.
The practice of feng shui has been used in this way for thousands of years. Bringing these ideas back into modern architecture is one of our primary goals. It is for this reason that I see architecture coming full circle. Finally remembering lost ancient wisdom and bringing us in harmony with our surroundings.
Architecture (Latin architectura, from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων – arkhitekton, from ἀρχι- “chief” and τέκτων”builder, carpenter, mason”) is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.
“Architecture” can mean:
- The art and science of design and erecting buildings and other physical structures.
- A general term to describe buildings and other infrastructures.
- A style and method of design and construction of buildings and other physical structures.
- The practice of an architect, where architecture means to offer or render professional services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use.
- Design activity, from the macro-level (urban design, landscape architecture) to the micro-level (construction details and furniture).
- The term “architecture” has been adopted to describe the activity of designing any kind of system and is commonly used in describing information technology.
In relation to buildings, architecture has to do with the planning, designing and constructing form, space, and ambiance that reflect functional, technical, social, environmental, and aesthetic considerations. It requires the creative manipulation and coordination of material, technology, light, and shadow. Architecture also encompasses the pragmatic aspects of realizing buildings and structures, including scheduling, cost estimating, and construction administration. As documentation produced by architects, typically drawings, plans, and technical specifications, architecture defines the structure and/or behavior of a building or any other kind of system that is to be or has been constructed.
Theory of Architecture
The earliest surviving written work on the subject of architecture is De architectura, by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the early 1st century CE. According to Vitruvius, a good building should satisfy the three principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas,which translate roughly as –
- Durability – it should stand up robustly and remain in good condition.
- Utility – it should be useful and function well for the people using it
- Beauty – it should delight people and raise their spirits.
According to Vitruvius, the architect should strive to fulfill each of these three attributes as well as possible. Leone Battista Alberti, who elaborates on the ideas of Vitruvius in his treatise, De Re Aedificatoria, saw beauty primarily as a matter of proportion, although ornament also played a part. For Alberti, the rules of proportion were those that governed the idealized human figure, the Golden mean. The most important aspect of beauty was therefore an inherent part of an object, rather than something applied superficially; and was based on universal, recognizable truths. The notion of style in the arts was not developed until the 16th century, with the writing of Vasari. The treatises, by the 18th century, had been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and English.
In the early nineteenth century, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin wrote Contrasts (1836) that, as the titled suggested, contrasted the modern, industrial world, which he disparaged, with an idealized image of neo-medieval world. Gothic architecture, Pugin believed, was the only “true Christian form of architecture.”
The 19th century English art critic, John Ruskin, in his Seven Lamps of Architecture, published 1849, was much narrower in his view of what constituted architecture. Architecture was the “art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by men … that the sight of them” contributes “to his mental health, power, and pleasure“.
For Ruskin, the aesthetic was of overriding significance. His work goes on to state that a building is not truly a work of architecture unless it is in some way “adorned“. For Ruskin, a well-constructed, well-proportioned, functional building needed string courses or rustication, at the very least.
On the difference between the ideals of “architecture” and mere “construction“, the renowned 20th C. architect Le Corbusier wrote: “You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials, you build houses and palaces: that is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good. I am happy and I say: This is beautiful. That is Architecture”.
By contrast, the le Corbusier’s contemporary, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said that architecture begins “when 2 bricks are put together.”
Modern Concepts of Architecture
The great 19th-century architect of skyscrapers, Louis Sullivan, promoted an overriding precept to architectural design: “Form follows function“.
While the notion that structural and aesthetic considerations should be entirely subject to functionality was met with both popularity and skepticism, it had the effect of introducing the concept of “function” in place of Vitruvius’ “utility“. “Function” came to be seen as encompassing all criteria of the use, perception, and enjoyment of a building, not only practical but also aesthetic, psychological, and cultural.
Nunzia Rondanini stated, “Through its aesthetic dimension architecture goes beyond the functional aspects that it has in common with other human sciences. Through its own particular way of expressing values, architecture can stimulate and influence social life without presuming that, in and of itself, it will promote social development.’
To restrict the meaning of (architectural) formalism to art for art’s sake is not only reactionary; it can also be a purposeless quest for perfection or originality which degrades form into a mere instrumentality“.
Among the philosophies that have influenced modern architects and their approach to building design are rationalism, empiricism, structuralism, poststructuralism, and phenomenology.
In the late 20th century a new concept was added to those included in the compass of both structure and function, the consideration of sustainability. To satisfy the contemporary ethos a building should be constructed in a manner which is environmentally friendly in terms of the production of its materials, its impact upon the natural and built environment of its surrounding area and the demands that it makes upon non-sustainable power sources for heating, cooling, water, and waste management and lighting.
Origins and Vernacular Architecture
Building first evolved out of the dynamics between needs (shelter, security, worship, etc.) and means (available building materials and attendant skills). As human cultures developed and knowledge began to be formalized through oral traditions and practices, buildings became a craft, and “architecture” is the name given to the most highly formalized and respected versions of that craft.
It is widely assumed that architectural success was the product of a process of trial and error, with progressively less trial and more replication as the results of the process proved increasingly satisfactory. What is termed vernacular architecture continues to be produced in many parts of the world. Indeed, vernacular buildings make up most of the built world that people experience every day. Early human settlements were mostly rural. Due to a surplus in production the economy began to expand resulting in urbanization thus creating urban areas that grew and evolved very rapidly in some cases, such as that of Çatal Höyük in Anatolia and Mohenjo Daro of the Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day Pakistan.
In many ancient civilizations, such as that of Egypt and Mesopotamia, architecture and urbanism reflected the constant engagement with the divine and the supernatural, and many ancient cultures resorted to monumentality in architecture to represent symbolically the political power of the ruler, the ruling elite, or the state itself.
The architecture and urbanism of Classical civilizations such as the Greek and the Roman evolved from civic ideals rather than religious or empirical ones and new building types emerged. Architectural styles developed.
Texts on architecture have been written since ancient times. These texts provided both general advice and specific formal prescriptions or canons. Some examples of canons are found in the writings of the 1st-century BCE Roman military engineer Vitruvius, the Kao Gong Ji of ancient China[Notes 1], and Vaastu Shastra of ancient India and Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra of Sri Lanka. Some of the most important early examples of canonic architecture are religious.
The architecture of different parts of Asia developed along different lines from that of Europe; Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh architecture each having different characteristics. Buddhist architecture, in particular, showed great regional diversity. In many Asian countries a pantheistic religion led to architectural forms that were designed specifically to enhance the natural landscape.
Islamic architecture began in the 7th century CE, incorporating a blend of architectural forms from the ancient Middle East and Byzantium, but also developing features to suit the religious and social needs of the society. Examples can be found throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and the Indian Sub-continent. The widespread application of the pointed arch was to influence the European architecture of the Medieval period.
The Medieval Builder
In Europe, in both the Classical and Medieval periods, buildings were not often attributed to specific individuals and the names of architects remain frequently unknown, despite the vast scale of the many religious buildings extant from this period.
During the Medieval period guilds were formed by craftsmen to organize their trade and written contracts have survived, particularly in relation to ecclesiastical buildings. The role of architect was usually one with that of master mason, or Magister lathomorum as they are sometimes described in contemporary documents.
Renaissance and the Architect
In Renaissance Europe, from about 1400 onwards, there was a revival of Classical learning accompanied by the development of Renaissance Humanism which placed greater emphasis on the role of the individual in society than had been the case during the Medieval period. Buildings were ascribed to specific architects – Brunelleschi, Alberti, Michelangelo, Palladio – and the cult of the individual had begun. There was still no dividing line between artist, architect, and engineer, or any of the related vocations, and the appellation was often one of regional preference.
A revival of the Classical style in architecture was accompanied by a burgeoning of science and engineering which affected the proportions and structure of buildings. At this stage, it was still possible for an artist to design a bridge as the level of structural calculations involved was within the scope of the generalist.
Early Modern and the Industrial Age
With the emerging knowledge in scientific fields and the rise of new materials and technology, architecture and engineering began to separate, and the architect began to concentrate on aesthetics and the humanist aspects, often at the expense of technical aspects of building design. There was also the rise of the “gentleman architect” who usually dealt with wealthy clients and concentrated predominantly on visual qualities derived usually from historical prototypes, typified by the many country houses of Great Britain that were created in the Neo-Gothic or Scottish Baronial styles. Formal architectural training in the 19th century, for example at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France, gave much emphasis to the production of beautiful drawings and little to context and feasibility. Effective architects generally received their training in the offices of other architects, graduating to the role of draughtsmen or clerks.
Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution laid open the door for mass production and consumption. Aesthetics became a criterion for the middle class as ornamented products, once within the province of expensive craftsmanship, became cheaper under machine production.
Vernacular architecture became increasingly ornamental. Housebuilders could use current architectural design in their work by combining features found in pattern books and architectural journals.
Modernism and Reaction of Architecture
Around the turn of the 20th century, general dissatisfaction with the emphasis on revivalist architecture and elaborate decoration gave rise to many new lines of thought that served as precursors to Modern Architecture. Notable among these is the Deutscher Werkbund, formed in 1907 to produce better quality machine-made objects. The rise of the profession of industrial design is usually placed here. Following this lead, the Bauhaus school, founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919, redefined the architectural bounds prior set throughout history, viewing the creation of a building as the ultimate synthesis—the apex—of art, craft, and technology.
When Modern architecture was first practiced, it was an avant-garde movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic underpinnings. Immediately after World War I, pioneering modernist architects sought to develop a completely new style appropriate for a new post-war social and economic order, focused on meeting the needs of the middle and working classes. They rejected the architectural practice of the academic refinement of historical styles which served the rapidly declining aristocratic order. The approach of the Modernist architects was to reduce buildings to pure forms, removing historical references and ornament in favor of functionalist details. Buildings displayed their functional and structural elements, exposing steel beams and concrete surfaces instead of hiding them behind decorative forms.
Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright developed Organic architecture in which the form was defined by its environment and purpose, with an aim to promote harmony between human habitation and the natural world with prime examples being Robie House and Falling Water.
Architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and Marcel Breuer worked to create beauty based on the inherent qualities of building materials and modern construction techniques, trading traditional historic forms for simplified geometric forms, celebrating the new means and methods made possible by the Industrial Revolution, including steel-frame construction, which gave birth to high-rise superstructures. By mid-century, Modernism had morphed into the International Style, an aesthetic epitomized in many ways by the Twin Towers of New York’sWorld Trade Center.
Many architects resisted Modernism, finding it devoid of the decorative richness of ornamented styles and as the founders of that movement lost influence in the late 1970s, Postmodernism developed as a reaction against its austerity. Postmodernism viewed Modernism as being too extreme and even harsh in regards to design. Instead, Postmodernists combined Modernism with older styles from before the 1900s to form a middle ground. Robert Venturi’s contention that a “decorated shed” (an ordinary building which is functionally designed inside and embellished on the outside) was better than a “duck” (an ungainly building in which the whole form and its function are tied together) gives an idea of these approaches.
Part of the architectural profession, and also some non-architects, responded to Modernism and Postmodernism by going to what they considered the root of the problem. They felt that architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it had to consider the everyday needs of people and use technology to give a livable environment.
The Design Methodology Movement involving people such as Christopher Alexander started searching for more people-oriented designs. Extensive studies on areas such as behavioral, environmental, and social sciences were done and started informing the design process. As the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of structural systems, services, energy, and technologies), architecture started becoming more multi-disciplinary. Architecture today usually requires a team of specialist professionals, with the architect being one of many, although usually the team leader.
From the 1980s and into the new millennium, the field of architecture saw the rise of specializations for each project type, technological expertise, or project delivery methods. In addition, there has been an increased separation of the ‘design’ architect[Notes 2] from the ‘project’ architect.[Notes 3] The main reason for the shift is because architectural processes for any large building have become increasingly complicated, involving preliminary studies of such matters as durability, sustainability, quality, money, and compliance with local laws. A large structure can no longer be the design of one person but must be the work of many.
Environmental sustainability has become a mainstream issue, with a profound effect on the architectural profession. Within the past several decades, architects have realized that buildings must take into account their effect upon the environment. Major examples of this can be found in greener roof designs, biodegradable materials, and more attention to a structure’s energy usage. This major shift in architecture has also changed architecture schools to focus more on the environment. Sustainability in architecture was pioneered in the 1960s by architects such as Buckminster Fuller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Sim Van der Ryn, in the 1970s Ian McHarg in the US and Brenda and Robert Vale in the UK and New Zealand. There has been an acceleration in the number of buildings that seek to meet green building sustainable design principles. Sustainable practices that were at the core of vernacular architecture increasingly provide inspiration for environmentally and socially sustainable contemporary techniques. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has been instrumental in this. An example of an architecturally innovative green building is the Dynamic Tower which will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.
1. ^ From the 7th–5th centuries BCE.
2. ^ A design architect is one who is responsible for the design.
3. ^ A project architect is one who is responsible for ensuring the design is built correctly and who administers building contracts – in non-specialist architectural practices the project architect is also the design architect and the term refers to the differing roles the architect plays at differing stages of the process.
1. ^ “Gov.ns.ca”. Gov.ns.ca. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
2. ^ Banister Fletcher, A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method
3. ^ D. Rowland – T.N. Howe: Vitruvius. Ten Books on Architecture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999, ISBN 0-521-00292-3
4. ^ Translated by Henry Wotton, in 1624, as “firmness, commodity and delight” 
5. ^ “Vitruvius”. Penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
6. ^ Françoise Choay, Alberti and Vitruvius, editor, Joseph Rykwert, Profile 21, Architectural Design, Vol 49 No 5-6
7. ^ John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, G. Allen (1880), reprinted Dover, (1989) ISBN 0-486-26145-X
8. ^ Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, Dover Publications(1985). ISBN 0-486-25023-7
9. ^ Rondanini, Nunzia Architecture and Social Change Heresies II, Vol. 3, No. 3, New York, Neresies Collective Inc., 1981.
10. ^ OneWorld.net (2004-03-31). “Vernacular Architecture in India”. El.doccentre.info. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
11. ^ Other energy efficiency and green building rating systems include Energy Star, Green Globes, and CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools).
12. ^ “AssociatedPress”. AssociatedPress. Retrieved 2008-12-21.