Daily Prompt: architecture of the now

Do you belong in this day and age? Do you feel comfortable being a citizen of the 21st-century? If you do, explain why — and if you don’t, when in human history would you rather be?

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

Architecture began thousands of years ago with the earliest humans using large tree branches to create the first post and beam structures. These simple, temporary shelters developed into more permanent, but mobile, structures like Tee-pees and tents made of long wooden rods and animal skins sewn together. We call this Pre-historic Architecture.

Eventually our ancestors developed more permanent forms of building made out of a multitude of readily available local materials like mud brick, stone, wood, palm leaves and even concrete. We call this Ancient Architecture.

As the centuries progressed, Architecture and Construction became more refined, more functional, and even more beautiful. In each new era of building we have a certain style (this is a dirty word to some, but not to me), or a certain set of principles that identifies a particular age and way of life for that time and place. And in times past, place had a much more important role to play in the architecture through material, construction and even function.

Now, fast forward through the Industrial age, the invention of the elevator, central HVAC, the automobile, the airplane, the microwave and the iPhone – Architecture, in my opinion, has devolved. We’ve lost, through technology, the basics that make architecture great. Our technology has made it possible to design anything, anywhere, at any time. We are no longer bound by the basic principles of place, of climate or of time. This is leading to the death of real Architecture. The idea of sustainability, what used to be a default in all buildings, has now become something extra. In many cases something MUCH extra indeed. We don’t design buildings to perform and respond with their site and climate. We design them AGAINST their site and climate in a constant battle for supremacy. And how’s that working out for you?

For 21st Century Architecture to succeed, we need to return to basic Architectural Principles: Site, Context, Climate (Macro and Micro), Materials (local), Construction (durability and longevity), and Proportion (beauty). No matter what architectural style you favor, a well designed building that takes the items listed above into careful consideration is successful and will be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone. Like good music, good architecture is just that.

17 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: architecture of the now

  1. excellent historical info and the definitions. i must say i agree with the devolvement comment as well. i believe somedays that we’ve ‘created a monster’. i prefer the days of paper and pencils, drawing and day dreaming of what something MIGHT ‘look’ like, eventually, the joys of working to achieve that goal; and the success of ‘seeing’ it born…irreplaceable. 15 minutes on google can do that now. it im-personal and something’s ‘missing’ to me anyways. thank you for this share.!

    • Thanks, Jay. I myself try to design and build with a sense of history, place, material and function. I don’t want to leave a legacy of buildings torn down, but rather buildings that will stand the test of time and be usable and enjoyable for generations.

  2. I know nothing about architecture and assumed I had no interest in it, but found this to be as easy to read (for an architectural-dummy like me) as it was insightful and interesting. I’m glad you’re not opposed to the word “style” ’cause I like yours. I suppose you can learn a lot about a culture from it’s architecture, huh?

    • Culture and Architecture are synonymous. If you study any culture, both ancient and modern, society was and is defined by the architecture of the day. Rome, Constantinople, Beijing, Hong Kong, New York City, Baltimore, Savannah…the list goes on and on.
      All major cities and cultures influence and are influenced by their architecture.

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  4. Well said…how do we explain this to the masses? There is liitle regionalism anymore. Walmarts, houses, and the rest of our modern culture looks the same no matter where you are. And yes, style is a dirty word.

    • I just did explain it to the masses. Just copy and paste. 😛

      “little regionalism”?…there isn’t any, really. As our world continues to shrink thanks to technology and communication, you really can have anything you want anywhere in the world. It’s a shame. This is a fight that has to be waged one client at a time. Calling attention to those examples of real Architecture instead of touting the glitzy work of starchitects is a grassroots campaign that needs much more proponents like us.

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