Contextual Design

One might think that the least obligation of any new building is make its surroundings more commodious and interesting. The trouble is that this obligation often gets in the way of an architect's desire for self-expression in built form. The urban design awards of the journal Progressive Architecture, from the inception of the scheme in the early 1970s to the demise of the journal in the mid-1990s, more often than not went to individual buildings. No awards went to completed urban design schemes. In 1999, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) was considering giving an urban design award to a building that complied with the requirements of a master urban design plan. In a field where the individuality of designs is exalted and architects try to find a niche for themselves in the marketplace for services by being different, the willingness to pay attention to the public realm is indeed something to be rewarded. The development of a discrete

Figure 6.1 The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles in 2004. (a) The Concert Hall as object and (b) the Concert Hall in context.

Figure 6.1 The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles in 2004. (a) The Concert Hall as object and (b) the Concert Hall in context.

contextual architectural attitude in Barcelona after the fall of the dictatorship of Franco has been little emulated elsewhere and indeed no longer holds sway in that city.

The RAIA gave its major urban design award in 2002 to the refurbishment of an outdoor music bowl. Its secondary award that year went to a new bridge allied to a museum refurbishment. At least the bridge is an element of urban infrastructure. It received the award, however, for being as much an art object as an important urban link (Awards, 2002). It is sad that nowadays the pressures on architects are such that simply designing with a sense of decorum, with respect for the nature of a street or precinct, brings an award.

The issue of how an individual building adds to or makes its context is a fundamental concern in urban design. Should a building meld in with those around it or stand out? Should it be a foreground or a background building? Almost all developers and their architects want their buildings to be foreground buildings and resent any guidelines or other design controls that they see as limiting their imaginative power. Interestingly, major architects seem to have less difficulty in designing background buildings than minor ones striving to make their mark.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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