Kevin and Carrie Burke of the firm Parabola gave a guest lecture to our class.  Their focus is to promote   “the design of a more nuanced human experience of the built environment through the precise integration of the inestimate.” They focus heavily an experience within the natural world and utilizing these natural systems within the build environment.  The collaboration of these elements result in a full range of human sensorial capacities and not just visually appealing. Moreover, they support their design by scientific research.

They began by looking at the 10 Hannover Principles by William McDonough & Partners:

  1. Insist on the right of humanity and nature to co-exist
  2. Recognize interdependence
  3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter
  4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design
  5. Create safe objects of long-term value
  6. Eliminate the concept of waste
  7. Rely on natural energy flows
  8. Understand the limitations of design
  9. Seek constant improvement by sharing knowledge

By following these principles, they created careful designs that seek a greater goal after they are physically built. They allow for nature and humanity to work together and learn to respect the relationships between the two.

A project in Netherlands is based on the Almere principles. The set of principles came about through a dying sea.  By following these doctrines , the sea has continued to be rejuvenated and juvenated and has been reclaimed. Almere is a town designed 30 years ago along the sea with a pledge to be healthy by 2030.  They work to follow these guidelines as a way to clean up the sea, cultivate new relationships allow for change for the future.

  1. Cultivate diversity
  2. Connect place and context
  3. Combine city and nature
  4. Anticipate change
  5. Continue innovation
  6. Design healthy systems
  7. Empower people to make the city

Their home, “Timepiece,” utilized all of these examples, with an emphasis on a central skylight/oculus.  The design allows for the sun and other natural forces to be used to form space.  They study and work with different architectural strategies such as light, gravity, air, thermodynamics, water and the balance of constancy and change over time.

The roof is designed by the solar equinox and solstice. The beams of light can fall along the interior and exterior walls of the attic space, as pictured below.

What I thought was interesting is that the house was designed in section to allow for the light to go in.  This is very different from a “traditional” home where it starts in plan and primarily driven by program, or unnecessary rooms we have become far too accustomed to.  The images of the home are truly inspiring. You can see the connection of nature to humanity, giving it great long-term value. Though this is a fairly small scale, you can tell that in designing they took into consideration all the impact to the parts per million. The home creates a positive atmosphere that is enlightening in both product and idea.

What I thought was very thoughtful and interesting that Kevin spoke about was the idea of LEED buildings.  He discussed how though LEED designs get approved because of their sustainability efforts and benefits for the long run, their certification does not take into account the humanity it will be affecting.  I think this is a very valid argument.  It is important in architecture to have a goal of sustainability, but sustainability cannot occur in a place that is not ready for it or that does not work well with the surrounding environment.  As Kevin said and as the Hannover Principles represents, one of the main aspects of designing is not only to reduce the impact of the buildings but the question is to how to create positive effects. I think this relationship between the experiences of a building and how the building functions can be something truly inspiring and thoughtful, and one that allows for humanity to be excited for the space within and around it.