Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Olof Thedin on the Architecture of Necessity

Olof Thedin (Arkitektbolaget) is based in Växjö, Sweden and was involved in the design of Limnologen, a building that has won praise from the National Swedish Wood Construction Strategy and the Swedish Wood Construction Council.

What does the Architecture of Necessity mean to you as an architect and a community planner?

The Architecture of Necessity feels like an opportunistic combination of words. All architects would agree that architecture is necessary, but what is the architecture of necessity?
Virserum Art Museum's call states that the architecture of necessity is responsible, diligent, sustainable, just and open. As early as the middle of the 16th century Palladio formulated that “Well building hath three conditions: durability, convenience and beauty”. Convenience (responsible, just), durability (sustainable) and beauty (diligent). Why is this call needed? What is its purpose? What does it add to Palladio's four-hundred year old statement?
It would have to be the word open in that case. What is meant by open in this context?
“Architecture of necessity invites change and dialogue.” At what stage? In the program phase.
“It is open to rich and complex cultural traditions and narratives and is the physical embodiment of the democratic society.” Another truism. Surely architecture reflects all types of society, democracies and dictatorships included. Or?
“A building or a city is not something to be completed, it is something to be developed.” What does that mean? Asplund began Stockholm Public Library and the work was continued by Heike Hanada, according to the most democratic process imaginable?
“The architecture that is open to change and participation will be loved and it will have a long life.” The most loved architecture is so loved that it cannot be altered. These buildings are marked with a big Q [A Swedish classification for a type of listed building] so that no one can carry out any changes to the exterior or interior. The most current example is the Stockholm Public Library, where no one is even allowed to build in its vicinity!
So what does the Architecture of Necessity mean to me as an architect and a community planner? That Palladio's statement has been rediscovered by the author of this call.

What is the biggest challenge faced by the Architecture of Necessity?

To disseminate the insight that good architecture provides the base for a community that is sustainable in the long term, whilst the pursuit of short term gain usually results in bad architecture and a waste of resources.

Are there to be found, either in Sweden or elsewhere, examples of what could be labelled Architecture of Necessity?

A process is underway in Växjö that is slowly turning the area into a good place to live in. The jigsaw is assembled piece by piece and gradually the urban setting is transformed into a beautiful, living city. The Architecture of Necessity is the important jigsaw pieces in the building of cities that provide the framework for the appreciation of the whole.
One reason Växjö has been named the greenest city in Europe is perhaps that there is a drive towards good sustainable everyday architecture.

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