Logical / Ecological Design
by Nancy Novitski
"Most buildings are terrible. They're unhealthy, and they're bad for the soul." Fred Stitt, director of the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, didn't mince words as he officiated over "Ecological Design: The Unstoppable Wave." The conference, held in Oakland, California in August 2003, aimed at improving architecture through a better understanding of its relationship to the natural environment.
Over 200 working architects, students, and environmental professionals gathered to hear from the visionaries and practitioners in this burgeoning field. The Eco Wave conference, like the concept of ecological design itself, ran the gamut from the supremely practical to the resolutely idealistic.
One speaker provided a framework for understanding this range of approaches. Thomas J. Hahn, Jr., R.A., president of Sol Source Architecture in Phoenix, Arizona, presented "Conspiring With Nature: Employing Ecological Awareness toward a Design Methodology." He said it's important to understand the distinction between "organic" architecture and the merely "amorphic."
Organic architecture, in Hahn's view, evolves through a process that is responsive to nature and results in an architecturally efficient yet engaging form. By contrast, amorphic forms made up of conceptually derived curvilinear geometries often lack resource efficiency and environmental responsiveness. >>>
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The daylit gymnasium of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Berkeley shows how Todd Jersey Architecture "collaborates with nature."
Photo: Todd Jersey Architecture
An example of "simulation" features an inappropriate use of heavy timber in an effort to look "green." The application is decorative, not structural, as evidenced by the metal straps suspending the logs.
Photo: Courtesy Todd Jersey
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