How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built (Anglais) Broché – 1 octobre 1995
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
"A stunning exploration of the design of design
How Buildings Learn will irrevocably alter yor sense of place, space, and the artifacts that shape them."
Michael Shrage, Wired
Philip Morrison, Scientific American
"An extremely attractive volume that will forever alter the way we respond to the buildings around us. We may also hope it will alter the way architects design buildings."
Harold Gilliam, San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating and indefinable book
How Buildings Learn is a hymn to entropy, a witty, heterodox book dedicated to kicking the stuffing out of the proposition that architecture is permanent and that buildings cannot adapt."
Stephen Bayley, The Times (London)
"The book's diagnosis is clear and to the poiny, and its illustrations of how buildings change are both fascinating and instructive. This is, in short, one of the rare books that every architect should read."
Thomas Fisher, editor, Progressive Architecture
"A book of good sound-bites and laser-sharp insight
No architecture students should complete their preliminary studies without reading it from cover to cover."
Patric Hannay, The Architects' Journal
Présentation de l'éditeur
From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworththis is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory.
More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with timeif they're allowed to. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it.
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Proposing six shear levels within a building based on their ability to temporally adapt, How Buildings Learn uses Site, Structure, Skin, Services, Space, and Stuff as a highly successful outline in delivering its message (p. 13). One source attributes this paradigm to that developed by British architect and historian F. Duffy's "Four S's" of capital investment in buildings. The site is eternal, yet often ignored by architects. The structure is most permanent defining the form and lasting 30 to 300 years. The skin is the part the architects get to play with. The services change every 10 to 15 years and, for ease of adaptation, should be kept separate to allow slippage from structure. The space (interior partition and pedestrian flow) and people's stuff change continually at the will of the occupants. After defining these layers, Brand then maps how buildings acclimatize over time based on their architecture.
The architecture is divided into three paths: low road, high road, and monumental. As a counter-culturalist, Brand observations should surprise no one that those dysfunctional places revered by society adapt the worse while despised "low visibility, low-rent, no-style" structures are functional, cost effective, and adapt easily to change. Contrasting the "temporary" World War II government warehouse Building 20 at MIT to I.M. Pei's Media Lab on the same campus, Brand illustrates his points with human testimonies and photographs. Though scheduled for demolition a number of times over the decades, Building 20's adaptable character has resisted. On the contrary, it appears the only forces retaining the overly designed and dysfunctional Media Lab are economic and social: the millions of dollars expended for its construction and the people that approved the funding for a monument to its designer. High Road buildings are high maintenance, described by Brand as a "labor of love measured in lifetimes." Citing original work by the Duchess of Devonshire, he attributes the character of these buildings to "high intent, duration of purpose, and a steady supply of confident dictators" (p. 35).
Unlike Low Road buildings that demonstrate value through utility, or High Road buildings that endure for their beauty and majesty, the worst buildings for adaptation are Famous buildings. For this arena, Brand has a target-rich environment. One book reviewer describes these buildings as "ignoring time, while time does not reciprocate." Because of its leaky roofs, Falling Water becomes, "Rising Mildew" and a "seven-bucket building" (p 58.) Famous buildings cannot adapt. They either exist as monuments to their creators, requiring significant investment to preserve, or as relics on the landscape succumbing to the forces of nature disintegrating into the landscape upon which they sit. Brand applied a similar logical approach to contrast exposed building elements. The Eiffel Tower, though despised by the locals at its inception, now stands as a monumental icon to the technical advances of the early twentieth century. The structure is beautiful in the nude. On the contrary, the exposed systems on the twenty-first century Pompidou Centre - originally celebrated for innovation and creativity - are now rusted and cracked. Without intervention, Famous buildings are destined to return to the landscape from which they were created.
How Buildings Learn mirrors Brand's interest in preservation and high technology. While one might interpret preservation and modern construction materials as diametrically opposed disciplines, Brand alleys these concerns. The chapters on Preservation and Maintenance allude to the desirable attributes of quiet, populist, victorious, and romantic. The space materials create environmental stewardship through their speed, efficiency, strength and effortless implementation. Traditional or "vernacular" materials will be touchable and aesthetic but come at a higher price. Smart materials, created from advanced processes, are cheaper and may provide the economic incentive to preserve an old building that might otherwise succumb to the financial pressures created by vernacular restoration. Brand suggests that future buildings will learn more quickly. He uses computer advances in sensory and motor response as metaphors; however, does not suggest to what part of his six "S's" illustration this prediction relates.
As a matter of fact, Stewart Brand has a history of predicting technical change and has built a contrarian consulting organization around this ability. Unlike most management consultants, yet consistent with How Building Learn, Brand helps companies adapt - designing for impending change instead of planning for a strategic future outcome. As Fortune magazine paraphrased him, "If mind-boggling change is the only constant, focusing on the avoidance of major blunders yields better results than the single-minded pursuit of the big win."
This perfectly captures the central thesis of _How Buildings Learn_: Once built, buildings do and must _change_ to fit the changing needs of their inhabitants. The interiors may be remodeled, roofs raised, additions made, plumbing and wiring added, rerouted or remodeled, & etc. Single-family brownstones become apartment buildings, homely warehouses may become lofts for artists and high-tech startups, and mansions may be turned into museums.
Good buildings can be changed gracefully; bad ones resist change. Brand shows us many examples of each. In many cases, "vernacular" architecture -- rather plain structures that wouldn't earn a place in an architect's resume -- prove the most suited to change. Brand reserves considerable fury for prestiege projects that seem more to serve the architect's ego than the inhabitants' practical use.
I'm not an architect, student of architecture, or what-have-you, so I don't know how this book ranks with other critiques of architecture. I can say that I found it immenseley informative, persuasive, and readable.
Addressing the building layers (site, structure, skin, services, space plan and "stuff") through a logical sequence of chapters, to get the most out of this book deserves a thorough read rather than a surface glance. The deeply referenced & illustrated, entertaining chapters span:
Flow- introduction and the time dimension; Shearing Layers- of the different rates of change in buildings; "Nobody Cares What You Do In There": The Low Road- easy adaptation in cheap buildings; Houseproud: The High Road- refined adaptation in long-lasting sustained-purpose buildings; Magazine Architecture: No Road- where tenants needs ignored for photo-aesthetics; Unreal estate- and markets sever continuity in buildings; Preservation: A Quiet, Popularist, Conservative, Victorious Revolution- to address incontinuity and frustrate innovators; The Romance of Maintenance- and preservation; Vernacular: How Buildings Learn from Each Other- and respect for design wisdom of older buildings; Function Melts Form: Satisficing Home and Office; The Scenario-buffered Building; and Built for Change- imagining buildings inviting adaption.
Strengths include: the great depth of reference material, illustrations and evidence; easy-readability; an insiders' window on the international world of architects and civil engineers; and suitability for wide audience including lay-people interested in the built-environment and society, as well as complex systems architects (hard engineering or software development).
Rarely the text becomes a bit rambling (more sidebars or bulleted lists?) and repetitive with unsupported assertions- but that is the only negative. Improvements could include an additional chapter cross-referencing (learning from?) `adaptive systems', `scenario planning' etc.. from the other professions that explicitly use these approaches to develop longer-term customer-centric complex adaptive systems.
Overall a great read, that encourages re-evaluation of living and working space (don't accept those dis-functional anonymous boxes behind the trendy outer skin!). `How Buildings Learn' is best read with both something like `E-topia' by Mitchell (Architect and Computer Scientist at MIT) for a visionary (and sometimes contradictory) view of the future of the built environment; and Schumacher's `Small is Beautiful' for a sustainable economic-development viewpoint.