Reracinated

For the English architect and academic John Frazer, such ideas creak with age, though he does acknowledge Goethe as a precursor, in his Naturphilosophie, an unwitting anticipation of the common genetic foundation of life. Frazer himself engages with this genetic structure in terms of nature-as-information rather than with a structural, organizational or representational model (Plate 11) How does nature encode information in DNA, and make form which is capable of response, development and...

Introduction

As nature becomes, through the science that has exploited and continues to exploit it, once again a model for imitation by culture, modernism, as characterized by instrumental rationality, is acquiring the potential to bring about the negation of its initial condition the master slave relation between itself and nature (Fig. 3.1). Aspects of western culture have changed dramatically since the late 1960s, but these changes, instead of being cast as 'post-modern' could as easily be viewed as the...

Back to the garden

'Arcadians', historically, were those who saw us as part of nature, and subject to its laws, whereas 'utopians' saw us as separate from - and superior to - nature. Obviously we are separate in one sense we are conscious of ourselves in a way the rest of nature does not seem to be. In the West, the Bible carries a metaphorical, if not a literal, truth. Adam and Eve's eating of the apple from the tree of knowledge led to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, where they had been fed and...

Ceci nest pas une pipe

To talk about 'environmental architecture', that is, architecture which contributes to allowing nature to physically sustain us, we first have to 1. Kate Soper's book What is Nature (1995) is a generous and rigorous account of the contemporary debate. define what we mean by nature. It is two things a material reality and a cultural construct. The two exist in parallel, but they are not, and never can be, the same thing. As material reality, nature exists as both that which is outside us and...

A kinder gentler modernism

Environmental architecture is thus a product of reaction as well as action, defining itself in contrast to a demonized mainstream modernism. 'Demonized' because the rich contradictions within modernism itself, particularly the ambivalent attitude towards nature, are ignored in favour of a caricature drawn from its most unpopular aspects its reductive universality, its infatuation with industrial production, its juvenile presumption. The work of Mies van der Rohe in such buildings as the Seagram...

Selective

SEASOtpAW ENERG-iTDKMAHD USER CONTROLS NATjUR L ENVIRONMENT ORIENTATIONfRELATED PEIESTRATION SECflifNAL COMPLEXITY FR& Z PLAN rqKtl FORM RELATED TO CLaMATE INTELLIGENT PLANT AND SYSTEMS INTEGRATION R.PAW AND SYSTEMS of scientific understanding. The materials and devices used for the external walls and windows of a building can now control with much greater precision the amount and type of energy flowing through them in either direction (Fig. 6.5). An example of an exclusively passive...

Visibility

The reception of architectural meaning may not be that intended by its producer, especially over time, but nevertheless there is usually a conscious attempt on the part of the architect to convey something beyond the function of shelter. The building not only stands, but stands for. The criterion of 'visibility' is therefore the point at which environmental architecture becomes more than the existing plurality made more sustainable, and becomes a self-conscious architecture in its own right...

Conclusion

It could be reasonably argued that the wilder side of formal experiment is hardly going to win the hearts and minds of a generally conservative public, or for that matter, the generally conservative architectural profession. Folding, however, is not being proposed as the formal template for environmental architecture, but as one way of reflecting upon, and reflecting, a 'new' relation between built and natural environments. Conversely, the focus of environmental design on the precise physical...

The good the bad and the juggled

At what point, then, even within the framework of 'bounded but unlimited', does the pursuit of the new tip over into excessive environmental cost Some within environmentalism are very clear that each newness must be environmentally justified. This newness is, of course, material, 'real'. Ideas are environmentally cheap, at least until they lead to things in the world. To this way of thinking, there is material practice that is ethically acceptable and that which is not, and the unnecessary...

Telling the truth

Choosing to engage with 'materials as facts' requires engaging with some or all of their 'real' properties density, strength, colour, etc. There is no particular virtue in this, and games played with conventional expectations can and do cause us to reflect upon the 'true' nature of the material being played with. It is merely that in playing this way, the material is dematerialized, in that its 'nature' is distorted, its characteristics masked or reversed. Ruskin condemned such distortions as...

Sustainable heroics

Typical of the brio is Richard Rogers' 1992 design for Lu Jia Zui, a city-within-a-city in Shanghai 40 million square feet for 500,000 people, 50 per cent business, 50 per cent residential, and eight times the size of the Canary Wharf development. This circle of skyscrapers, up to 60 storeys high and laid out around a park, was intended to replace an existing suburb (Fig. 8.3). As in Howard's Garden City, boulevards were to radiate from the centre, and a railway was to ring the perimeter. It...

The return of the repressed

By the time the Modern Movement was finally catching up with seventeenth-century science and exploring the building-as-machine in imitation of the universe-as-machine, the science of the twentieth century was undergoing a major paradigm shift, from the projection of nature-as-clockwork to a new projection of nature as relative, dynamic and uncertain. Though its claims to total objectivity are discredited, the western empirical tradition of enquiry into the physical world has enabled us to...

Blurring the boundaries

The analogies between the operations of the biosphere and the operations of various aspects of our culture ('robots, corporations, economies and computer circuits' (Kelly, 1994 3)) seem to undermine, if not negate, the oppositional definitions of culture and nature set out at the beginning of this essay. If culture has unwittingly been operating like nature, how can it be claimed they are fundamentally different from one another In fact, the definition of nature as 'given' and culture as...

Makers and breakers

The above assertion is contentious, but the ground for it was laid by Jurgen Habermas, probably modernism's best-known apologist. Habermas does not accept that 'purposive rationality' has become 'overblown into a totality, abolishing the distinction between what claims validity and what is useful for self-preservation' (Habermas, 1987a 119). Modernism has been characterized as encouraging a systematically exploitative relation between nature and culture. It could be argued, however, that human...

New is good

For those architects uninterested in moral imperatives, the main concern about environmental design seems to be with aesthetic limitation. Architectural education, in particular, is still firmly embedded in Enlightenment Modernist notions of progress, the supplanting of the old with the new (and improved). This has manifested itself in architecture in a drive towards originality - technical and aesthetic. Environmentalism brings with it a reconsideration of what has hitherto been an...

Building the truth

A discussion of materials inevitably encompasses nineteenth-century theorizing, but also new ideas that have a degree of urgency about them not inherent in either the pursuit of truthful expression or semantic games. As with so much within the domain of environmental sustainability, this new consideration of materials does not inspire - or dictate - a particular aesthetic strategy, but does suggest an ethical one. Materials have a much longer life than the buildings they make. In a sense, they...

Being good in buildings

50 of material resources taken from nature are building-related. Over 50 of national waste production comes from the building sector. 40 of the energy consumption in Europe is building-related (Anink, Boonstra and Mak, 1996 8). As if this weren't enough, 40 to 50 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are also produced by the built environment. Given the enormous impact of the built environment upon the natural one, architects cannot avoid for much longer repositioning themselves in...

Being good

As political critique, environmentalism claims the moral high ground and commands us to look beyond the economic gains of the exploitation of natural resources to the effect of this exploitation on the wider community, and beyond short-term profit to the fate of future generations. The argument is couched in terms of survival - of both us and the planet -the seriousness of which is intended as legitimation. If environmentalism is a matter of life and death, then who among us would choose death,...

Of mutual benefit

A paradigm entwining social and environmental systems could be fruitful not only in terms of the construction of settlements, but also their operation. 'Industrial ecology', for example, looks at industrial processes as if they were biological ones, shifting production and consumption from a linear entropic model to a circular energy efficient one. Instead of energy being used to produce, say, steel, and its waste being dumped Solar City, Linz, Austria, 1995, Richard Rogers Partnership, Foster...

Climatic differentiation Ken Yeang

In the design of his 1984 'Roof-Roof House' (Plate 53), Ken Yeang extracted climatic function from vernacular style in Malaysian architecture. This was the first step towards developing a fully fledged bio-climatic architecture that attempted to assimilate western buildings types such as the high-rise, with traditional passive cooling strategies taken from vernacular Malay houses. Chief among the latter was the idea of roof and verandah serving as a form of 'umbrella' to protect the interior...

Defining Environmental Architecture

Coherent Subtraction

It may be true that one has to choose between ethics and aesthetics, but whichever one chooses, one will always find the other at the end of the road. Jean-Luc Godard Environmental architecture is currently more widely referred to as 'sustainable architecture', and was formerly more widely referred to as 'green architecture'. The vagueness and ambiguity of the word 'sustainable' makes the term 'sustainable architecture' equally vague and ambiguous. There are, after all, many forms of...

The birth of the green

If nature is again in a position to influence architecture as much, if not more than any other cultural domain, how is this to be manifested If, as this chapter suggests, the division between nature and culture is becoming increasingly blurred, how can 'nature' be a clear paradigm at all The answer lies in the cause of this loss of demarcation. There is a blur because culture is able increasingly to understand and imitate the operations of nature. This imitation is of a very different order...

Torrent Research Center Ahmedabad India

Rifat Chadirji Plans

With this recognition of architectures other than western and other than modern, western architecture's hegemony was challenged, although under Critical Regionalism, the building crafts of these other architectures did not gain an equal validity. Frampton was not the only one to see this imbalance as unavoidable. The Iraqi-born architect, Rifat Chadirji Figs. 6.10-12 , although on the other side of the western other divide, Y. Rafiq Residence, Baghdad, Rifat Chadirji. Y. Rafiq Residence,...

Symbiosis Richard Horden

Richard Horden

The term 'passive' refers to those environmental design strategies which seek to heat and cool buildings without mechanical help, such as fans, pumps, photovoltaics or any of the other paraphernalia of 'active' systems, however 'clean' those active systems are. The degree of passivity is often determined by the client, whose views on comfort vary from a demand for total control of the internal climate to a willingness to tolerate greater thermal variation. And yet, even in the most rigorously...

Building there

In architecture, this dilemma became focused on ways in which one might recover 'place' from modernist universal 'space'. For such conflicts between identity and modernity in both the West and the Third World, the critical regionalism developed by Alexander Tzonis, Lliane Lefaivre and Kenneth Frampton held a possible resolution, though not one radicals like Hassan Fathy could ever welcome Critical Regionalism has to be understood as a marginal practice, one which, while it is critical of...

Visibility Emilio Ambasz

An Argentinian architect, writer and designer Emilio Ambasz is intensely aware of the fiction-making role of his profession It has always been my deep belief that architecture and design are both myth-making acts. I hold that their real tasks begin once functional and behavioural needs have been satisfied The architect's or designer's milieu may change, but the task remains the same to give poetic form to the pragmatic Ambasz, 1991 24 . The pragmatic, in this case, is the environmentally...

Terra cognita

Windcatcher Cairo Section

As important to contemporary architecture is the use of traditional vernacular as a storehouse of ingenious passive environmental techniques developed to mediate between climate and interior. When fossil and nuclear fuels come at such a high environmental price, we cannot afford to dismiss low technology methods using renewable energy. This should not imply a repudiation of modern technology, but does suggest its redirection. What characterizes sustainable building technologies, high or low, is...

Cultural differentiation Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano Tjibaou Center Inside Plan

It could be argued that the choice of a cultural centre to illustrate cultural differentiation is somewhat biased. Even architects who did not normally concern themselves with such an issue might in such a case, especially if the cultural centre were particularly sensitive, as the Tjibaou Cultural Centre Plate 55 for the native Kanak population of New Caledonia certainly is. This chapter does not seek to argue the desirability, or not, of cultural differentiation, but to examine the way in...

Between the lines

In a conscious break with the optimism of architectural modernism, therefore, Tschumi said of his own work ' it is not about the way things should happen, but the way things are now today. There are no utopias today.' To represent this loss, Tschumi's prize-winning entry for a park to replace the slaughterhouses of La Villette on the north-east edge of Paris was intended to frustrate any expectations we may have of a readable pattern or closure of design 'relations of conflict are carefully...

Symbiosis

Environmental architecture is concerned above all else with the construction and running of the building.3 This is the sine qua non of sustainability, with its own historical antecedents and its own future. Symbiosis means literally 'living together, contributing to each other's support' OED , in this case, the built environment redirected towards peaceful co-existence with the natural one. Buildings that use renewable energy and recycled or low energy materials fulfil this essential criterion....