IS MAKING HEADLINES MORE IMPORTANT THAN MAKING A CHANGE?
Efficient architecture has been compromised by the architect’s ambition to be recognized internationally in the architecture scene, and the eagerness to compete with avant-garde trends has come to overlook the responsibility of architecture as a creative response to human needs. Rising architects and firms find their way to the media by presenting radical and extravagant designs, employing the latest technology and falling into the ‘overuse’ of fashionable trends in order to gain exposure. This habit has led to a kind of architecture that bypasses the requirements that enables companies, as well as the individual architect- to build an efficient space, so how can architecture find a midpoint between strategic solutions that respond to an issue without compromising an appealing aesthetic form?
Extravagant structures have become a staple in contemporary architecture, and they have been used as a medium to make a controversial statement (such is the case of Koolhaas’ CCTV building), and or perform as a sculptural piece (examples are Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall, Slim’s Soumaya Museum, Myne’s Cooper Union building, or Koolhaas’ Central Library in Seattle, who used the city as their showcasing museum). However, these projects have made headlines, but arguably not because of the right reasons. These buildings have not answered efficiently to design in relationship with human performance and the environmental reality within their geographic location. The steel façade that embraces the Disney Concert Hall failed because the material and shape reflected too much light and radiated heat to the surrounding houses (see image no. 2). An increase of investigation and recreating possible case scenarios would have resulted in a more adequate solution for the development of the projects. The Soumaya Museum’s tiled skin could have had light sensitive panels, or a ventilation system that benefits from the wind pressure exerted on the convex shape of the hourglass-shaped building. The curves of the Cooper Union building could have been extended onto the ground or into the lobby of the building in order to integrate it more to the site and result in a stronger relationship with the human experience, and in some way have the architecture generate a sense of space. Gehry’s flamboyant buildings along with Koolhaas’ Seattle library present a challenge where either the entrance to the building or spaces within the building themselves become confusing for the user, thus resulting in either a negative or disconcerting experience. A design that is sensible to the environment will participate more dynamically with the surrounding site and the characters that will engage in action with it.
When we consider the effort and research invested to develop the innovative proposals for these projects, then we can ask ourselves: Why not take it a step further and maximize the potential of the tectonics and material? Development in technology continuously gives us access to advanced materials, which could be applied unorthodoxly in order to generate an efficient building rather than fulfilling solely an aesthetic function. Each project becomes an opportunity to respond to different human needs. Taking advantage of the technological and aesthetical capabilities of these design trends would be a way to merge the functional purpose and sensory character of the building.
During the design process and project assessment, MKThink addresses these issues by carrying on in depth analysis of the different factors that will interact with the future building (ecological and human). These issues are identified as present scenarios, and consequently achieve a smart design that will efficiently respond to the project’s requisites, its environmental response to the site and the anticipated (and unexpected) engagement with people. This becomes a challenging process, however, MKThink’s strategic approach allows the design to continuously develop throughout the different stages.
An example is the ongoing project with the HNEI MMC Program that allows MKThink to collect data in order to compare and analyze the building performance in Hawaii. By taking these values and studying the existing factors in the location, MKThink is able to develop a design program that combines the interaction of the environment with the building and the prospective occupants. The result is a design that is both functional and has an attractive value, where one factor does not override the other and all the elements interact instead of competing again each other.
Architects have a commitment to fulfill building and habitable needs, and the team at MKThink manages to achieve this creatively. Buildings constantly interact with the environmental phenomena of the site, therefor, making these factors part of the design demonstrates an ingenious skill; where the built design becomes part of the site while communicating with its users.
It is so, that I propose current and future architects to challenge themselves, to design and find creative solutions that result beyond their own personal interest; to creatively follow what the purpose ‘needs’ and design ‘wants’. I invite you to make a change though a new kind of architecture.