doing the right thing - with built architecture
Built architecture possesses the right to exist - just because it is already there. Years or decennials ago someone has spent a lot of energy to build these things. This energy is stored in the building - and will be released if you destroy and rebuild. Like all manmade things which contain energy and resources - architecture should be kept in use as long as possible to reduce the overall impact of their creation.
- reduce your additions and modifications (the new things) as much as possible without compromising the goal to create a sustainable entity. Can you reduce the new to nothing by applying the following strategies?
> change of perception: can you convince yourself and the client to keep the existing just - or close to - as it is?
> care and repair: can you reduce your inverventions by repairing the existing - and constant care?
> behaviour: can you - instead of changing the building - change the behaviour of your clients / the inhabitants / your own?
> reuse as much and as directly as possible
> always think first: what is already there? what is avoidable? Can the new program be modified to fit to something existing?
> challenge your own motivations: Try to engage and to identify yourself with the existing. If you can‘t do that - maybe another architect can? Check your motivations for each proposal: is it technical and functional improvement or is it your desire to leave your mark by changing appearances?
> try to define and grasp the essence of the existing structure / situation / energy. Write down a list of at least 10 core qualities of the existing. Try to grasp it in pictures / drawings: how does the existing communicate and contribute to its use and surroundings?
> try to think of the existing as something you are designing simultaneously with your new additions / subtractions / modifications.
> challenge standards: don‘t follow blindly every norm and prescription.
> Is your design really effective or are you just efficiently doing ‚what is right‘ instead of doing the right thing?
> make it your project to convince the client to keep as much as possible of the existing.
Thoroughly check the following fields to build a dense and convincing argumentation:
> ecology: how much energy is stored in the existing - and can be saved by keeping it?
> economy: how much money can be saved by developing the existing?
> social resources: is there an existing social network netted or connected with the existing that can be seen as a value?
> historical resources: is there a story or other historic value that can be used to provide identity to the ‚new‘ development?
> spatial resources: is there something ‚to much‘ if you adapt the existing? Can this ‚to much‘ or ‚ill-fitting‘ be made into an advantage or core quality?
> image / doing the right thing: can the RRR approach be used to gain a positive image for the client?
> if you have to really demolish something, still think of saving as much as possible: are there any elements or materials that could be reused in your new design? What can be recycled? Can you do that on the spot and keep the materials there, to avoid transport energy? Think also of reusing ‚invisible‘ things like the infrastructure and the existing nature / trees-bushes-grass. Try to use existing borders / positions to destroy as few as possible.
> If you build in an untouched setting try to behave like a sensitive guest: try to contribute to the conversation but not to dominate it.