Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's Alive!!!

Passing any strip mall, big box store, or office park, I see a graveyard of lifeless buildings. I understand the limitations of budgets, building codes and routine function. But I don't get limitations in imagination and missing the chance to infuse matter with life. The energy is in there, waiting to be released from the frozen appearance of stone, wood, glass, even plastic; released from the seemingly static stance of walls and furniture. In the rush to find renewable sources of energy such as sun and wind, the potential power within designed objects is being overlooked.

To free the vital forces within architecture, takes letting go of frozen beliefs about form, function, color, sound and other qualities of built environments. By naming a pillar a "pillar" we limit the possibilities of what a pillar can be. Then, along comes an architect like Antonio Gaudi who sees that a column can do more than stand vertically to support a beam. It can tilt! It can dance! Put them is a row and a line of tilting columns can become a conga line of a colonnade.

Energized buildings aren't the result of wild shapes and clever design tricks. They come from looking past preconceived ideas of beauty, purpose, cost, etc. and saying hello to the building elements and furnishings we live with. Try it. Look at the room where you see. Direct your attention to a piece of furniture. Notice what preconceived ideas you have about the furniture. Look through those ideas and imagine you have never seen a designed form like that before. What do you see? What is within this object that wants to be expressed. How could the object be altered to release the energy within it?

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