Title: Architecture and Sensitivity: A Manifesto for Sustainable Design
This manifesto proposes an approach to sustainable design that I am interested in exploring during my time studying architecture. The idea of sustainability is a complex one, not without apparent contradictions. This makes it difficult to define in a wholly satisfactory manner. For the purposes of this manifesto I will advert to the definition proposed by Jason McLennan who asserts that sustainable design: “seeks to maximize the quality of the built environment, while minimizing or eliminating negative impact to the natural environment.” I find this definition particularly useful in the emphasis which it places on quality. By quality, in this …show more content…
“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
-- Eliel Saarinen
Architecture is inextricably rooted to place. An awareness of context then, would seem to be a sine qua non but unfortunately this is not always the case. An understanding of the social, historical, environmental, cultural and human qualities of a place is vital to building to best effect. By “contextual”, then, I mean an architecture that is sensitive to the history and memory of the site. This would by no means exclude an awareness of the buildings that surround it.
I admire Alvar Aalto for his understanding of the importance of relating design to the most significant features of the local site: the kind of features that are, as Michael Trencher puts it, “either physically self-evident or historically and culturally relevant.” Aalto’s design for the Enso-Gutzeit Headquarters in Helsinki, (1959-62), affords a good example of this approach (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3 Alvar