Musings on a Question
We get asked about what kind of architecture we design. Often the question is, “commercial vs. residential,” others specifically inquire about style, such as contemporary, modern. It is hard for us to speak about the work in singular and narrow terms such as modern architecture, sustainable architecture, etc. We have an aversion to categorizations because there is so much more we do and think about.
We are firm believers that good architecture is responsive to its environments. Critically thinking about “Place” can only positively affect design intent architecture. When we start a project, no matter the region, we rely on one of our foundational values when approaching design: understanding Place, the landscape, climate, environment and microclimates, flora and fauna, context, and cultural histories is a fundamental part of the process.
We often study indigenous and vernacular buildings as launching off points of understanding cultural histories of a region we may be designing in. In looking at history, it is relatively easy to find and understand what materials ancestral people of a region and land employed. Those same materials that were readily available then are likely to be still readily available now. The methods and techniques of assembly, construction, and detailing are always enlightening. Historic people had developed strategies in their dwellings that were employed to help control thermal comfort. The same methods historical buildings used to heat, and cool living spaces naturally can be applied to our current projects.
Common sense building strategies, passive cooling, and heating, sourcing local materials as much as possible, all are fundamental elements in the foundation of our thinking and approach.
Experience and Perception
We seek to design architecture that is rooted to place. We approach and think about architecture through the lens of how people experience and perceive their built environments. So much of what we consider isn’t formally overt.
In considering one of our projects in the landscape, we often will think about how it can grow out of the landscape, rather than imposing preconceived notions of what it should be. The essence of our conversations typically lands on the experience of space, in relationship to the natural environment and phenomena. We consider the materiality of the foundation and exterior walls, shade, and integration, points of access, and framing of the landscape. These decisions affect how a building is perceived, experience, and how it feels. Our goal is to design something that feels like it belongs, or perhaps as if it were always there.
In an urban project, the architecture responds to different conditions, the foundation of our approach still applies.
The materials architects use can also affect human well-being. Natural building materials offer warmth to lived spaces and provide a sense of calm for those who experience them. The markings or trace of the hand of craftspeople and artisans are also relevant. We believe the touch of a door handle matters, the texture of a wall should be touched, the smell of a space triggers the memory, and the sound and weight of materials can be heard and felt with the body.
Sensitive connectivity to, and integration into, the landscape is essential. Livable outdoor spaces that connect the interior to the natural environment are vital to creating a lifestyle and enhance living experiences. Light can be a material and material activator. The building becomes a timepiece and space is activated by the passage of time, our partner in this work. Human emotions and senses are part of the narrative when we think about and dream about spaces. When asked what kind of architecture we can design, the simple is all of it, and why not as long as we seek the humane and kind.