My architectural schooling didn’t focus on the means and methods of designing traditional homes. My coworker pointed this out to me when he brought my attention to this book. (Found on Amazon here.) Get Your House Right by Marianne Custo, Ben Pentreath and friends offers hand sketches with easy explanations throughout the publication to draw architects toward the do’s and don’ts of traditional house design. I’ve read a reoccurring theme in a few articles lately that highlight the disconnect between what the architect wants to design, and what the typical public desires in their shelter. Many clients haven’t been versed in Miesian or Neutra homes that architectural students use as case studies.
A third reminder came from The New York Times The Opinion Pages on December 15, 2014 by Steven Bingler adn Martin C. Pedersen titled How to Rebuild Architecture. I enjoy the conclusion of this piece beginning at: “It wasn’t always like this. For millenniums, architects, artist and craftspeople …”
— a surprisingly sophisticated set of collaborators, none of them conversant with architectural software — created buildings that resonated deeply across a wide spectrum of the population. They drew on myriad styles that had one thing in common: reliance on the physical laws and mathematical principles that undergird the fundamental elegance and practicality of the natural world.
These creative resources transcend style. They not only have wide aesthetic appeal, but they’re also profoundly human, tied to our own DNA. They’re the reason both Philip Johnson and the proverbial little old lady from Dubuque could stand beneath the Rose Window at Chartres and share a sense of awe.
To get back there, we must rethink how we respond to the needs of diverse constituencies by designing for them and their interests, not ours. We must hone our skills through authentic collaboration, not slick salesmanship, re-evaluate our obsession with mechanization and materiality, and explore more universal forms and natural design principles.
Not all architects are equally proficient at producing seminal work. But we do have access to the same set of tools and inspirations. And let’s be honest: Reconnecting architecture with its users — rediscovering the radical middle, where we meet, listen and truly collaborate with the public, speak a common language and still advance the art of architecture — is long overdue. It’s also one of the great design challenges of our time.
—Steven Bingler, an architect, and Martin C. Pedersen, an architectural journalist, are the authors of the forthcoming book “Building on the Common Edge.”
These are all reminders to the profession that we as architects need to continue to be conscious of the physical world, and the inhabitants we are sheltering. The youngest generation of architects may be called to explore a world through a time tested perspective to move forward.