Corona reshaping Architecture

  • Bauhaus/International Style = all white, evokes cleanliness
    • Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, along with his first wife, Aino, completed the Paimio Sanatorium, a facility for the treatment of tuberculosis in southwest Finland
  • “Tuberculosis helped make modern architecture modern,” the Princeton professor Beatriz Colomina writes in her revisionary history “X-Ray Architecture.” The industrialized austerity of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Marcel Breuer “is unambiguously that of the hospital,” the empty white walls, bare floors, and clean metal fixtures are all “surfaces that, as it were, demonstrate their cleanliness.”
  • But now defensive architecture is favored over open, airy International / modernist architecture. Defensive = plexiglass barriers, tape demarcations on floors, corners to hide in away from public arena
  • Rethinking domestic life: more outdoor spaces, less communal spaces, acoustic barriers are v important, separate rooms > open spaces
    • Personal spaces need to be both virtually connected and physically enriching even in the midst of social distancing—not the clean, white, anonymous smoothness of contemporary minimalist modernism but a textured hideaway, like an animal’s den, full of reminders that the rest of the world still exists, that things were once normal and might be again. We have to be able to hibernate.”
  • Rethinking office space: same way circulation to avoid bumping into each other, using carpet tiles to mark out 6 ft measurements, end of meeting rooms, extra precautions for communal spaces (kitchen, hot desks), staggered attendance to lower physical capacity in offices, entry points to building more accommodations (hand washing, mudrooms); designs dictated bottom-up (per post-pandemic behavior)
  • Rethinking cityscape: less commute to work, more people discovering own neighborhood on foot, more pedestrian-only zones, avoid density; bottom-up urban designs = outdoor patio seating taking over streets
  • Need to reconsider how architecture connects us globally, regionally and locally. Architecture has power to influence global experiences (traveling) , when we get to have these experiences again.

Living Patterns

I read an article about Living Patterns, and how these patterns can help inform us in creating healthy, responsive, interactive architecture.

“Living patterns underlay all successfully evolved design solutions.” Humans are no doubt creatures of habit, and finding design solutions that are rooted in patterns ultimately make people feel comfortable in their surroundings. It is through trial and error, the article says, that humans have found design solutions that work and don’t work, sort of like genetic sequencing and how nature favors the stronger, more advantageous solution.

Some other summary points:

  • “A building designed with sufficient attention paid to the natural rhythms of human neurobiology can result in conscious joy.”
  • Patterns give people a sense of comfort and structure. “Living patterns free us from environmental stresses, which come from an incoherent geometry of objects and spaces. Architecture’s capacity to protect us from stress liberates us to be more fully human, and keeps us healthy in the long term.”
  • Overall design needs to be coherent and these living patterns need to be implemented holistically with consideration of the overall environment. Throwing some designs that respond to living patterns within an incoherent design won’t work.
  • Not all designers will agree with this type of mindset of designing around living patterns. If designers treat buildings as no-touch, no-interactive pieces of sculpture without any type of interaction with the environment, they won’t buy into this.
  • A repeating design is not necessarily done because it’s beneficial for the users. Need to be careful to differentiate these “cheap” or “efficient” repetitive designs from living patterns that will help heal users.
  • Architects like to pretend they can change human behaviors. But really, behaviors are controlled by bigger forces beyond such living patterns. Power brokers, trendsetters, and critics limit the creative freedom of architects.

How to observe a pattern in existing design:

  1.  Living patterns usually work together as a group; they are rarely isolated.
  2.  When patterns appear in a weak form, we need to find the strongest example.
  3.  Patterns organize complexity and are not found in simplistic environments.

Link to article:

Examples of Living Patterns

My summaries of some pattern summaries to explan what are Living Patterns:

  • Create spaces that are organic (round/concave)
  • Have visual and physical connection to other activities so users do not feel isolated
  • Offer a variety of spaces for people to choose how they want to behave (e.g: alcoves in large open space)
  • Need to design proportionally so people feel properly protected but have enough space (e.g: certain dimensions required for balcony depths)
  • Reasons for these patterns can be linked to biology and evolution

Closely related to biophilic design patterns, spatial design patterns also enjoy scientific support (Browning et al., 2014; Kellert et al., 2008; Ryan et al., 2014; Salingaros, 2015). First, the inherited memory from our ancestral evolutionary environment certainly includes clearings, tree canopies, and caves as prototypes. Those settings provided a reassuring sense of enclosure at the right dimension. Second, neurological responses that were developed for our general survival long ago act now to interpret a space’s geometry as either friendly or hostile. Adaptive design relies on these two qualities of what made us human.

Architecture Can Heal

This is the beginning of an exploration of how architecture, design and spaces can serve to heal us physically and spiritually. I will look at historical projects, different cultures, materials, scientific research, and future trends.