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.

Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

“Place” is an interesting word for Architects. It means so much more than a location, a position or even a destination. “Place” is what we create. My own favorite places are almost always churches. I was never terribly religious growing up, and I’m not religious now, though I do have a strong faith. But churches, especially old well built and well designed churches always fascinated me. Two of my favorites to visit are The Cathedral Basillica of Saint Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida and The Cathedral of Saint John The Baptist in Savannah, Georgia. These two places spring to mind because I spent most of my adult life in both Jacksonville, Florida (very close to St. Augustine) and Savannah, Georgia (attending SCAD).

What is always so striking about buildings like these is the immediate sense of “place”, or the feeling that you have entered not a building but a living, breathing thing that has life to it. Many architects, I’m sure, can attest to buildings feeling “cold” or “impersonal”. These are not “places”, these are merely buildings that serve a function and are usually torn down in less than one generation.

Real Architecture creates “place”. Real Architecture creates a building with purpose, with meaning, with an animus that lasts long after we are gone.

Cathedral Basillica of Saint Augustine, St. Augustine, Florida

Cathedral Basillica of Saint Augustine, St. Augustine, Florida

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Savannah, Georgia

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Savannah, Georgia