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…
The fact that this building is sited in the middle of a highly populated area shows what can be done to help people live a fuller life – including those who have no focused interest in the Arts. This approach seems particularly relevant as more and more people live in cities and comes as a reminder that a city need not be a soulless, inhuman place.
“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