Monday, January 30, 2012

Hedonistic Sustainability Means Having Fun While Doing Good

The presentation by Bjarke Ingels (right) at last year's TEDx East conference in New York City is now available on-line. Show this video to your students so they can see how a young architect can teach us to be playful and have fun while doing serious work that helps people and the planet.

To better understand Ingels' ideas we have to know what a "program" is in architecture. Architectural programming is the research and decision-making process that identifies the scope of work to be designed. Architects and their clients identify the scope of a design problem prior to beginning the design, which is intended to solve the problem.

In the 1980s and 1990s, some architectural schools dropped architectural programming from their curricula. The emphasis of the Post-Modern and Deconstruction agendas was instead on form-making. Programming and its attention to the users of buildings was not a priority to them. As a result, several generations of architects have little familiarity with architectural programming.

Some of the advantages programming offers include:

1. Involvement of interested parties in the definition of the scope of work prior to the design effort
2. Emphasis on gathering and analyzing data early in the process so that the design is based on sound decisions
3. Efficiencies gained by avoiding redesign as requirements emerge during the architectural design process.

Part of the problem with school architecture is that the program identified by the architects and administrators is often more about economy and safety while the program sought by teachers and students is more about motivation and learning. Too often architects see the school administrators as their clients rather than the students and teachers. Places like Pixar, IDEO and Google know that spaces designed by and for the people who work there rather than for the owners and bosses, helps make them insanely successful in the real world.

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