31 December 2010
Place is integral to the way that I perceive myself. Where I am from and have been, and where I wish to go in the future, creates what I am. I believe the same must be true of any successful, and therefore sustainable, building. It must grow to have a mutually beneficial relationship with its peers to be a success. As with people, its early design and construction could lead it to be immediately successful, or, as it is weathered and aged and its uses adapt, its character changing with each turn of events, it will begin to fit in better with its surroundings.
The type of architecture that I feel the greatest connection to uses and adapts to the surrounding fabric, and creates a new and vibrant dialogue within the continuation of an existing tradition. As technology has advanced and the ease of communication has increased it is possible to create much more extravagant forms. Buildings that rely purely on these possibilities to inform their design and focus on testing the limits often seem to fall prey of becoming one dimensional. The middle ground between using vernacular forms to hide a modern building and rejecting completely all links to the past and the reasoning behind the vernaculars creation is a difficult line to successfully tread.
An a example of an architecture practice that I believe does is Studio Mumbai. Whilst listening to a lecture on the practice’s work I was seduced by their philosophy. Although it is almost impossible to implement the way they work in the UK, I think it is worth discussing. The practice’s team is made up of both architects and craftsmen working in tandem to create a building. The craftsmen are part of the design team rather than blindly following a set of drawings. Local materials are used with local methods to create an object that is completely cosmopolitan and completely Indian at the same time. If you listen to the process of how the buildings are formed there is a dialogue between craftsmen, who have handed down verbal information (often directly from father to son), and an architect, both critiquing and adapting the others’ work. The result of this is an undeniably modern building that is at the same time intrinsically connected to the place that has produced it.