The last weekend of June, A couple of girlfriends and I spent a weekend vacationing on Orcas Island, in Washington state.
On the last day of our visit, we took a hike and ended up finding a meadow of foxgloves in a low spot adjacent to a lake, where we ended up stripping and having the most refreshing and rejuvenating swim.
It occurred to me that this would be a perfect place to build a small island retreat.
I started meditating on the concept of a small house, a 12,ooo$ to be built elevated upon pilotti which would allow animals to travel underneath of it, and have a low impact on the local habitat. Allowing the structure to be an in and of nature, not to impose itself upon an already perfect environment.
Emerged, The Foxglove House, who structure is inspired by the morphology of the Foxglove flower itself - a native of Washington state (and of which the heart medicine Digitalis is produced from.)
The House design came to sit in a foxglove meadow, straddling a small brook that flows underneath.
Four decks, on enormous hinges pivot off of the structure, and balanced by counterweights, a lever pulled causes the decks to fold up enclosing and protecting the house, like a flower - and open at will.
Some of these island retreats are only visited once or twice a year so the idea of how to make a building that would protect itself, and ward of would be thieves was a concern to me -
Kody J. Bosch
Atlas Design Co.
The Fundamental problem of Contemporary Architecture, as we see it --- is not necessarily a lack of sound leadership, but a lack of cohesion within the Architectural Community, and a schism of no small important ---
After Wright Died,, Architecture broke into two distinct camps :
1) Firm Architecture, (Wright's : Plan Factory), driven by business first, principle second --- Corporate culture and economy drivers creating a soul-less aesthetic, or a design scheme lacking in fundamental principle and integrity
2) Architecture driven by Independent Crack Pot Visionary Geniuses --- usually on a chronic cocktail of hallucinogens and depressents, who are driven by a grassroots Principle driven design (which is what we want), but are too idiosyncratic, or otherwise lack the interpersonal skills to create a scaleable design model. A school of thought.
Part of The Genius of Wright was that he brought these two polar camps into synergy and synthesis.
And though, we must admit --- we love the Amorphic / Algorithmic Architecture of a Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry --- those buildings carry enormous price tags,,, and even in their expression --- cater less and less to Elevating The Human Spirit and more and more to appeasing the greatest number --- creating a common denominator that waters down expression ~~~
These Buildings are more like concrete poems, than human --- machines for living --- they elevate thought to abstract and abstruse concepts, but don't necessarily expand the human buildings.
At their worst, they are sloppy and lack discipline. Buildings better as models, then as billion dollar dollhouses.
An expensive building and architectural soul are not mutually exclusive elements.
Frank Lloyd Wright, who spent much of his career catering to wealth clients, building their mansions, later repented, when a peer challenged him to build a house for 25,ooo$ --- still a lot of money in Post World War II America, but a feasible sum for the burgeoning middle class. He successfully met this challenge, which was the Seed germinating his vision of "USonia" and "The Broadacre City." ---
Later, he was able to bring the cost down even further, to a $5,ooo price tag, and his "Usonian Automatic." which was a house that , if they so choose, could be assembled by the owners who bought it. Essentially, the precursor and progenitor of The Prefab House.
So, are We, The Client to choose between enormously expensive sexy buildings generated by equations on a computer screen, or careworn shanties built by impossible architects and their pot-addicted builders??
Enter Our Dark Horse ---
Spanish Architect, Santiago Calatrava, steeped his entire childhood in Antonio Gaudi, first hand --- has returned to First Principles, in buildings inspired by essential elements of structure and nature.
Birds Wings, Human figures, seeds, trees, platonic solids, etc.
Looking through his published sketchbooks illustrates that this is a great architect. who is absolutely devoted to creating buildings that are accessible while making a strong statement, and whose souls are boundless.
He has also demonstrated himself to be a sound manager, and captain of his firm --- which has created a solid school, and through his careful, deft hand --- will leave a rich legacy that will be mined into the indeterminable future.
How did it happen?
For one thing, he began his career first as a painter, then as a sculptor, then as a structural engineer, before expanding into Architecture.
He acquired a doctorate in Structural Engineering, which by its very nature --- goes straight to the heart, bones, blood, and sinew of the physical (and temporal world).
Santiago, with his buildings that often move, is a savior of contemporary architecture --- which was a ship without rudder before his emergence.
The dilemma, is there again --- his buildings, and his bridges --- which ought to be everywhere on this planet, are enormously expensive. He has been able to avoid the cost manipulation which was a huge failing of Wright --- client's whose choose his projects know how much that they will cost from the onset --- and that cost is often astronomical.
Architects, and The Field of Architecture have an opportunity, and a responsibility to set precedent, and lead Society (and civilization itself) in creating buildings, and total environments that expand and uplift the human spirit --- the entire structure of a society ought to uplift and expand , not demean, pontificate, dehumanize, or crush the soul.
In order to achieve this, Designers must look to first principles always, determine how to make their services affordable, create a partnership between their firms and their contractors (who interpret and determine the final form of a building), address the fundamental socioconomentalist failings of civilization, and lead the way to a built environment which pays homage to the natural world, of which human beings are part and parcel, while being a Compass-Lighthouse to point the way to a bright, civilized, humanized, and spiritually enlightened future -
Yours for The Revolution,
~Kody J. Bosch
Atlas Design Co.
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