Architecture

Architecture is an art form for the masses. You don´t need to pay admission, you can just walk outside and admire the beauty. While it is true that to fully appreciate some buildings you must venture inside, good architecture can be viewed from outside or inside.

Philosophy - Architecture

Simplicity

For the past few decades, the rise of computers has enabled Architects to create some amazing works. Equally so are the broad range of buildings that simply fail on anything more than a visual level. Computers have made it possible for all design fields to rapidly evolve design ideas and ideals. Some creations therefore suffer from being over designed. The addition of curves, different materials and different design esthetics serve in some cases to simply detract from the final product.

Over simplification

Again computers have impacted design to make it easier than ever to produce cookie-cutter solutions. A look at any major industrial centre, high density urban area, or housing subdivision will certainly show the econo-box mentality at work in the designs. While these types of solutions are very economical, the overall effect serves to detract from the visual appeal of an area.

The rush for modernization

All too often in the rush to create a modern city, older buildings are torn down without a second though. Some of the blame has to be squarely placed on the design community. Many buildings are purpose built with no regards for later usages. Many corporations and businesses have had the situation develop where it was cheaper to tear down a building than to renovate it. Sometimes it is a simple money equation. In Hong Kong for example, one building site had been torn down and rebuilt for a taller building 3 times in 15 years due to economic viability. Almost all major city centres have buildings that are simply abandoned due to the level of difficulty in renovating for alternative use. There are success stories as well. The recent trend to convert warehouses and factories into condominiums, lofts, apartments or flats is one such case. When designing new buildings, we must all seek to make buildings that are useful not only for the present, but also for the future. This is a responsibility not only of those who design the buildings, but also those who commission it and those who utilize and inhabit it.

Multiple usage

Although many places have not reached the land shortages of places like Tokyo and Hong Kong, urban sprawl is threatening many major cities. Part of the blame is in how we work. The 9 to 5 mentality has created vast areas that are packed in the day time, but completely devoid of life in the evening. The real challenge of the modern city is to develop multiple use facilities. The example of a Movie Theatre that can be used as an auditorium during the day is one of the simplest to envision. The real challenge is develop that idea to new spaces and new work practices. Obviously, certain sites are not suitable for multiple usages, but those that are need to be developed more aggressively.

The flip

There is a lot of talk these days about the concept of flipping a property. At it´s most basic a flip involves buying a property, renovations and then resale in a short time frame. For the most part, this has to be seen as a negative. Flips are done for only one purpose, to make money. In many cases major issues are either ignored or handled in an inappropriate way. In the rush to complete a project, valueable items are sometimes removed and discarded rather than saved and restored. Most of the contents of a property to be flipped wind up in the landfill sites.

Flips can be useful in certain cases. The idea of restoring a community through careful renewal of housing is a good idea. Communities benefit when renters of lesser housing are given the opportunity to buy flipped property at reasonable rates. Neighborhoods that are on the verge of collapse can be brought back.

All too often flips result in a chain reaction that at first is positive, but then quickly slides into the negative. The scenario is simple, a few properties in an area are a bit run down. Someone decides to flip a property. They take a lesser property and improve it and then sell it. Then the next property gets flipped. Once all the lesser sites are completed, they move on to the properties that are fine but not great. Eventually all the properties that can be flipped are flipped. By this point, the prices in that area will have been driven up to unreasonable rates. People are forced to either over improve their properties or to hold on to them for longer periods. Now people either can not afford to maintain the property (having spent all of their available money on the property) or can not afford to move. Eventually the properties become run down and the cycle begins again. This time however, property prices are already atrificially inflated. People can not afford to buy properties in that area and so it begins to suffer from lack of upkeep. This is all without taking into account any fluctuations in the economy which can devastate flips and leave properties in an unfinished state.