2019 Semester in Sustainable Design/Build - Progress

September 28, 2019
By Madi Visser, Semester Program Teaching Assistant


Written by Atreyu Sutton - Having little experience in the architectural world I fell victim to the design process, an inevitable operation unlike any other. I quickly learned this process is compiled with ideas, opinions, and constant new plans traveling in unpredictable loops, forcing one to make choices. This past week pushed me to reconsider the meaning of true progress. Being my first architectural endeavor, I felt I was stuck at an overwhelming standstill. It is only now, writing, where I can look back and realize this is all part of the design process. It seems we often frustrate ourselves with procedures, only to allow the option of rising above in means of finding new ways. I've realized it's exactly this action of rising above which defines the project. It is within this stage the build informs the design just as the design informs the build. It's so important to push forth in these moments as it is the process that will ultimately curate new ideas pushing forth the distinguished, eminent building all architects seek to create.



This week was spent starting, changing, and finalizing construction drawings of our building. We then went to a second-hand store to explore ways of incorporating recycled materials. We eventually selected seven windows and eccentric small glass blocks for use. Tuesday evening, we set off to the Development Review Board where our meeting for permitting was held. We presume we were accepted so we went ahead and built the first wall. It truly was amazing to see the group seamlessly work together to complete what we set out to do weeks before.



Before I sign off I wanted to share one idea. This has been mentioned quite often in class and always caught my attention. The ancient theory of Vitruvius, a Roman Architect born in 27BC - The theory is this; Commodity, Firmness, Delight. When first mentioned in class I was instantly intrigued. I felt I did not grasp the underlying meaning of these words. Upon further looking I had discovered Vitruvius' Theory is defined as follows; an architect should focus on three main ideas while curating a design: firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty).



It was venustas that caught my attention. Beauty is often left to a personal opinion of what's aesthetically pleasing. But Vitruvius believed that beauty was timeless. He believed it could be learned and the most beautiful architectural designs can be acquired from nature as “nature's designs were based on universal laws of proportion and symmetry.” He believed the human physique was a perfect model of proportional perfection. Simplistically broken down as a perfect body can and will perfectly inform the design. So for many years, the body was seen as a living rulebook, containing the fixed and faultless laws set down by nature. The idea that in order for a building to contain beauty it is a necessity to follow the natural ways of evolution. Interesting idea.



That’s it for now. Until next time