SE N S E O F P L AC E The role of an architect when constituting place Jennifer Macleay
DECLA R AT IO N The content of this dissertation is The result of my own investigation, except Where stated otherwise. It has not been accepted for any degree, nor been concurrently submitted for any other degree within or outside Robert Gordon University. I take full responsibility of the authenticity, Sources and originality of the content used In his dissertation
JENNIFER MACLEAY 1001972 May, 4th
ACKNOW L E DGE ME NTS I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who were involved within this research and for the help I have received throughout the course of this dissertation. First, I would like to thank my supervisor Professor Gokay Deveci for his guidance through the course of my dissertation. I would also like to thank Neil Sutherland and Neil Gillespie for their time and participation. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support and guidance throughout my studies.
ABSTRAC T Place is a complexity that has established itself within a variety of different professions where it has then been defined and refined throughout history. Place allows man to dwell, providing shelter and security whilst commencing within an interrelationship between community, identity, culture and history. These relationships take place within a wider environment between the built construct and the raw materials of the natural environment, integrating the measureable and immeasurable qualities that fundamentally form the differences amongst place. Through the analysis of place with references to built examples, this study investigates and questions the role of architects when creating sense of place within the built environment and the complexities involved when interweaving this into the natural given landscape. The investigation sought to understand the interrelationship that comprises the notion of place in rural areas and asks what are the principles to which architects confine themselves? This study explores the immeasurable and measurable qualities that in some relation are of principle when creating architecture. Understanding the relation between architecture and the human setting becomes evident within this investigation. As immeasurable qualities, contrary to belief, imprint and leave impression upon the human experience, in turn this identifies the numerous attributes, hard and soft, that are involved within the notion of place. With reference to previous theory, current literature, architectural precedent and practicing architectsâ€™ opinion, this dissertation seeks to conclude how architects confine the measurable and immeasurable qualities seen within all architecture today and how they blend these qualities to create place within the variable rural landscapes across Scotland.
Declaration Acknowledgements Abstract Contents Page
Chapter One | Introduction
Background Aims and Objectives
Chapter Two | Literature Review
26 30 38 58
Chapter Three| Methodology
- - -
The importance of place Measurable attributes in relation to constituting place Immeasurable attributes in relation to constituting place
Chapter Four | Interview Analysis -
Comparative analysis of interviews and conclusions
Chapter Five | Case Study Analysis -
Critical analysis of selected case studies
Chapter Six | Comparative Case Study Analysis -
Chapter Seven | Conclusion References and Appendices
LIST O F IL LUST R AT IO NS VisitScotland., 2015. Accomodation. In: VisitScotland, 2015. Self-catering Accommodation in the Highlands. [online]. Scotland: VisitScotland. Available from: http://www.visitscotland.com/accommodation/self-catering/highlands/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. VisitScotland., 2015. Scottish Borders. In: VisitScotland, 2015.The Scottish Borders. [online]. Scotland: VisitScotland. Available from: http://www.visitscotland.com/ destinations-maps/scottish-borders/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. Sagittaire., 2013. Scottish Borders. In: VisitScotland, 2015. SAA hors murs Décembre 2014 : La SUISSE de Bâle aux grisons. [online]. France: Sagittaire architects associes. Available from: http://www.sagittairearchi.com/saa-hors-murs-la-suisse-de-bale-auxgrisons/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. Flickr., 2015. Seier+seier. In: SAGITTAIRE Architects Associes, 2005. sigurd lewerentz, stockholm august 2005. [online]. France: Sagittaire architects associes. Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seier/528660049 [Accessed 6 May 2015]. LUCAS, O., 2014. Architectural Review. In: ARCHIOBJECTS, 2014. Museum “Fondazione Querini Stampalia” | Carlo Scarpa, Venice. [online]. Italy: Archiobjects. Available from: http://archiobjects.org/museum-fondazione-querini-stampalia-carlo-scarpa-venice/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. RUCHI, S., 2015. Church. In: Pinterest, 2014. Grundtvig’s Church. [online]. USA: Pinterest. Available from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/342414377890456182/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. DECOHUBS., 2015. Minimalist Juvet Landscape Hotel. In: Decohubs, 2014. Minimalist Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway. [online]. USA: Decohubs. Available from: http:// www.decohubs.com/minimalist-juvet-landscape-hotel/3493 [Accessed 6 May 2015]. SANTOS, L., 2015. Wood. In: Pinterest, 2014. Juvet Landscape Hotel. [online]. USA: Pinterest. Available from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/10766486579228025/ [Accessed 6 May 2015]. GAMBOLPUTTY. J., 2015. Norway. In: Flickr, 2012. Juvet Landscape Hotel. [online]. USA: Flickr. Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60968190@N00/7889303596/ [Accessed 6 May 2015].
LEE. A., 2011. Gokay Deveci – New Projects. In: ADS, 2015. Lotte Glob Studio. [online]. Scotland: Architecture+DesignScotland. Available from: http://www.ads.org.uk/ resource_files/thumbs/big_thumb_5011_lotte-glob-studio-08.jpg [Accessed 6 May 2015]. LEE. A., 2011. Gokay Deveci – New Projects. In: ADS, 2015. Lotte Glob Studio. [online]. Scotland: Architecture+DesignScotland. Available from: http://www.ads.org.uk/ resource_files/thumbs/big_thumb_5010_lotte-glob-studio-10.jpg [Accessed 6 May 2015]. LEE. A., 2011. Gokay Deveci – New Projects. In: ADS, 2015. Lotte Glob Studio. [online]. Scotland: Architecture+DesignScotland. Available from: http://www.ads.org.uk/ resource_files/thumbs/big_thumb_5198_lotte-glob-studio-10.JPG [Accessed 6 May 2015]. REIACH AND HALL., 2011. Housing. In: UrbanRealm, 2015. Weaver’s Cottage. [online]. Scotland: UrbanRealm Ltd. Available from: http://www.urbanrealm.com/images/ buildings/buildingpic_1752.jpg [Accessed 6 May 2015]. WELCH, AJ., 2011. Ettrick Valley House: Weavers Cottage. In: UrbanRealm, 2015. Weaver’s Cottage. [online]. Scotland: UrbanRealm Ltd. Available from: http://www.earchitect.co.uk/scotland/ettrick-valley-house [Accessed 6 May 2015]. REID, R., 2011. Weavers Cottage, Ettrick Bridge. In: Robert Reid Joinery + Building, 2011. Weaver’s Cottage. [online]. Scotland: Robert Reid Joinery + Building. Available from: http://www.robertreidjoinerbuilder.com/USERIMAGES/DSC_0955.jpg [Accessed 6 May 2015]. MAKAR., 2010. Di Rollo House. In: MAKAR, 2015. Di Rollo House. [online]. Scotland: MAKAR LTD. Available from: http://makar.co.uk/design-build/projects/view/residential/ di-rollo [Accessed 6 May 2015]. MAKAR., 2010. Di Rollo House. In: MAKAR, 2015. Di Rollo House. [online]. Scotland: MAKAR LTD. Available from: http://makar.co.uk/design-build/projects/view/residential/ di-rollo [Accessed 6 May 2015]. MISS, K., 2014. Bath Culture. In: Fieldguided, 2011. Guest post by tara of to the bath. [online]. USA: Fieldguided. Available from: https://studio408.files.wordpress. com/2011/08/dod-flickr-zumthor-therme-vals-872322246_2040d5b8b2_o2.jpg [Accessed 6 May 2015].
C H APTE R ON E I NTRO DUC TIO N
The notion of place has been defined and redefined by a variety of different professions, including theorists, philosophers and architects. Through extensively exploring place making and its relationship within architecture, place must be defined. What constitutes place? To define the notion of place would merely be understanding that creating a place is simultaneously a built construct and a construct of the mind (Menin 2003). Its important to first acknowledge that place is not specific to a singular natural environment, built construct or spiritual engagement on a human level. Place in many ways is the interweaving relationship between all of these attributes that compile to create a meaningful place. The human sensory becomes a valuable attribute enabling one to develop an unconscious and conscious attitude towards a given environment (Pallasmaa 1996). Whether this is the intent of the designer, the measurable qualities of the built environment can impact on the human senses. It is important to acknowledge the complexities of the human engagement when designing, as the interactions between the immeasurable and measurable have an essential impact within architecture. Focusing upon the contribution of architects and architecture within the notion of place, it becomes apparent that there is a strong relationship between the natural and built environment that can allow architects to contribute and enhance a place. It is the character and identity of a place that allows us to develop a sense of belonging. It is the history and traditions of a place that allows for us to sense different atmospheres, characters and communities. Different identities are manifested by differences in culture and tradition and architecture has somewhat been the main contributor of this. But, it is important to understand the depths and dynamics that constitute a place, as no two places are the same. There are numerous attributes that constitute the identity of a place; such as the measurable and immeasurable qualities that allows us to perceive and understand an atmosphere inversely. Therefore designing within and for a place, the attributes that constitute its environment must be clearly understood so that as designers, we can enhance and contribute within any given environment through architecture.
Like the spider with its web, so every subject weaves relationship between itself and particular properties of object: the many strands are then woven together and finally form the basis of the subject’s very existence.
(Norberg-Schulz 1971 p. 9)
Distinctive places are recognised through the way in which we perceive. Whether it’s through the alteration in identity and character that the place exploits, fundamentally, it’s the connection we feel towards a given environment that allows us to have a sense of belonging and attachment to a place. Buildings that sit within a landscape, a city, a town, would merely be objects if they conveyed no sense of place. These buildings wouldn’t belong if they had no relation to their context. It is important to acknowledge the surrounding context and establish what fundamentally makes a particular atmosphere within a place, before architects contribute and try to enhance this environment. In recent years, it seems the relationship between landscape and architecture is not the driving force, although site is one of the most influential factors in regards to design solutions. In order to design for and within a landscape, understanding the typography and climate in which we are designing within is fundamental. Architects must understand that there is “no convenient recipe for place making” (Berleant 2003 p. 52) and that its complexities vary between environments. Within rural parts of Scotland, the scenery is very picturesque with the stereotypical white farmhouse contrasting to the browns and greens of the moorlands. Although contrary to belief, the contrasting object within the landscape creates a strong sense of place. In many ways this contradicting meeting proves to be aesthetically pleasing and becomes the desirable connection designers pursue between the built and natural environment. Previously, rural landscapes across Scotland were for agricultural use and the people who worked amongst these spectacular landscapes were also the first to make home, and dwell. The rural landscapes are vast with colour and variety and in many ways this pitched formed object seen often engraved within the Scottish landscape is fundamentally what has knitted a close relationship between the built and natural environment. It is this strong connection between the natural and raw materials, contrary to belief that enhances the environment; the traditional vernacular rich with culture and identity does not spoil the landscape, it becomes complimentary. There has been significant change in relation to the rise in people who are choosing to migrate to the rural countryside in search of a better quality of life (Scottish Government 2005). The rural landscape has become a more desirable location to dwell, work within and commute from. Due to this growing trend, the need for rural housing has increased. 13
Too much of today’s rural architecture does not respond to the landscape with sensitive consideration, “houses are often just designed (regardless of context) and then just ‘placed’ down” (The Scottish Government 2011 p. 6). We must conserve the landscape through sensitive design approaches, but also provide opportunity for man to dwell within such a distinctive and desirable landscape through architecture that contributes and compliments the valued heritage. Architecture should compliment and contribute to the landscape and enhance our experience through being within the natural environment. Architecture essentially is how we experience a particular atmosphere or place. The human sensory is vast and complex and allows for immediate appreciation of a spontaneous emotional response (Peter Zumthor 2005). Maybe as designers, we are complicating the simple relationship between the built construct and natural environment and in fact the immeasurable qualities become the driving force in how we perceive architecture within a rural environment. There is a visual quality within the distinctive white cottage; its simplicity creates an unconscious appreciation within our minds. If the success of architecture within rural environments becomes only measured by the way in which its immeasurable qualities are perceived, and not in the way it functions with and within the landscape, it becomes more of an art form than a craft. Which raises the question of what has become of an architects’ role when constituting place within a rural landscape?
R ES EARCH AIM I aim to understand the measurable and immeasurable complexities of place making and the notion of place through its relationship to architecture within a landscape.
OBJ EC TIV ES •
Gain an in-depth understanding of the main philosophers and their theories regarding place.
Understand the importance of place within architecture.
Gain an understanding of how architects articulate an atmosphere through built form.
Develop an understanding of contemporary architects who contribute to this philosophy within their design process and architectural intent.
To make practical towns and buildings is not enough. Architecture comes into being when a total environment is made visible.
(Norberg –Schulz 1980 p. 23)
C H APTE R T WO LITERATURE REVIEW
Before we can understand the role of an architect when constituting place, we must first understand the complexities that surround the notion and the importance of place in relation to man, therefore allowing man to dwell within a given environment. Attributes that surround place and its importance are characters such as identity, culture and history, which are absorbed within a given environment. In turn, this creates a distinctive place allowing for the people that dwell within this setting to create a sense of identity, community and belonging for themselves. It is then important to understand how it is possible to create different places that carry their own unique atmospheres. Place can be described as both a natural environment and built construct. The depth and variety within the natural environment is particularly diverse, all portraying their own sense of place. Within the built environment, there is also a depth within its diversity. The built construct can be made up of a variety of different materials, forms, mass, textures and colours. Both the natural and built environment provides complex sensory settings where man must interweave the senses through the measureable and immeasurable qualities of its context and articulate these to experience place.
TH E IMPO RTANCE O F PLAC E
Architecture, as with all art, is fundamentally confronted with questions of human existence in space and time, expressing and relating manâ€™s being in the world.
(Pallasmaa 1996 p. 8)
Christian Norberg-Schulz, architect and theorist, claims that an architect has the task of creating places that are meaningful, thus helping man to dwell (Norberg-Schulz 1979). Schulz expresses the importance of man within a whole environment, and the 18
meaningful relationships we have to the natural and built environment, stating that the relationship between man and a given environment is established through the process of dwelling (Norberg-Schulz 1984). Therefore, to create place, man must be within a given environment, informing a relationship between place and built form. Architecture in many ways allows for an expression of man’s being within the world. Architect, Peter Zumthor similarly argues that architecture has a unique connection with life (Zumthor 2010). Parallels can be drawn between the built and living environment, as the strong and unique relationship between the two is evident. It is through this relationship that man can dwell, and therefore have a sense of belonging to a distinctive place. Sense of belonging is tied to the notion of dwelling, expressing again that a sense of identity and belonging within a place can only be experienced through architecture. It allows for man to belong within the living environment, through the built construct. Architect, Juhani Pallasmaa states that the task of architecture is to reconstruct the experience of an undifferentiated interior world, in which we are not mere spectators, but to which we inseparably belong (Pallasmaa 1996). It becomes evident, that there is a connection between architecture helping man to dwell within a given environment and creating a sense of belonging for one’s self by pursuing so. Therefore, man can establish a sense of belonging through architecture. Within the built environment today, architect, Malcolm Fraser argues that there is a real issue regarding sense of belonging that has become central to our lives but is currently being ignored or belittled (Fraser 2013). Fraser states that through underpinning the concept of belonging, and expressing it as the driving force, it shall enable designers to build more meaningful places for man to dwell. A sense of belonging has become what our modern lives are disconnected from (Fraser 2013). Without a sense of belonging to a place, man cannot dwell but merely wander through environments. It becomes a crucial attribute within place making, as when one belongs to a place, an integration of identity, character, and community develops. Sarah Menin, architectural theorist further states the importance of having a sense of belonging, as it allows for continuity between ourselves and the place that we are dwelling (Menin 2003). Allowing man to dwell comfortably within a given environment, enabling one to portray a sense of belonging and self-identity. The identity of a given place allows man to distinguish the culture and traditions within, helping man to understand an environment at a human level. Schulz explores what creates the character and identity of a place, asking what are the fundamental elements that allow for us to distinguish the diverse atmospheres within different places and acknowledge different locations with altered identity? A place must have its own figural quality in relation to the surrounding context, and this quality allows for a location to have meaning and it’s own identity, becoming it’s own place (NorbergSchulz 1984). Additionally, Zumthor states when within it’s final form, architecture exists within a place and is therefore living within the environment (Zumthor 2010). Zumthor 19
continues, stating that each building is built for a specific use, place and society and that in time will naturally grow to be apart of a character that surrounds a distinctive place (Zumthor 2010). Similarly, architect Juhani Pallasmaa states that it is our domicile that becomes integrated with our self-identity; it becomes part of our body and being, integrating us within an environment (Pallasmaa 1996). Culture and traditions provide character and identity within a place, allowing for people to form a sense of belonging and attachment. In turn, these experiences formulate memories allowing for these objects and places to become familiar. Kevin Lynch, urban planner argues that this creates associations within our past and future experiences of a particular place (Lynch 1960). Culture and traditional vernacular within a place allow for us to identify different time periods through history and help us to gain understanding and learn from the past. Historic features allow for recognition of a certain place, as well as cultural identity. Illustrating this through describing a city wall of the past, Schulz states it has two purposes, one purpose of defensive and the other of distinguishing the end of a city, holding the identity of the place within the walls (Norberg-Schulz 1984). Through recognising that tradition and history possess character and fundamentally distinguish the identity of a place, Schulz reiterates architectures place within a whole environment. Similarly, Lynch notes that an environment should not only be well organised, but should express individuals, their complex societies and historic traditions (Lynch 1960). Architecture is the foundation to communities, their history, culture and identity;
At the physical level, it embodies centuries of learning with regard to orientation, climate, building materials and construction techniques. At the spiritual level, the built-form conveyed total harmony with the life-style in all its daily as well as seasonal rituals, unifying the socio-cultural and religious aspirations of the individuals and the communities.
(Doshi 2007 p. 112)
American Scholar, Arnold Berleant argues that place is where one may dwell and be within an environment becoming the setting for the event of human living (Berleant 2003). It can be described as an environment we actively engage as place is a forever developing atmosphere. Through the complexities of the built construct, designers can manipulate and reflect atmospheres through the use of forms, materials and other architectural features. Reflecting an aesthetic through the built construct can encourage humans sensory to react in particular ways. Allowing the question to be asked, do architects control the measurable and immeasurable qualities when constituting place?
MEASURABLE ATTRIBUTES IN RELATION TO CONSTITUTING PLACE Zumthor argues that to constitute a significant place, its built form and its use must reflect each other coherently (Zumthor 2005). Allowing for both built form and use to reflect the nature of a particular place. Equally, Schulz notes that the built form gives character to the spatial elements, and vice versa, stating that the built form and organised space make up a place (Norberg-Schulz 1984). There is a relationship between both statements, articulating that the built form and the used space within constitute place. Lynch reiterates that a city must be made up of certain elements, relating to them as the raw materials of the environmental image of a city, which must be patterned together to create a complete form (Lynch 1960). Similarly, theorist Jane Jacobs states that cities are diverse, made up of numerous elements and in turn leading to more development. Jacobs states that a city or place must be diverse with certain elements in order for it to be successful (Jacobs 1961). Without all features working coincide, the city will not succeed. Both Lynch and Jacobs state that there are many elements and complexities within a city and they all must integrate to allow for the success within a city or place. There are numerous attributes that form interrelations in both the natural and built environment. Within rural environments there may not be as many constraints as there are within the complex urban fabric of a city. However, the built form integrating with its environment remains fundamental to its success. Architect, Peter Buchanan argues that in terms of creating a sense of place through the physical characteristics of a building, the most important aspect for contemporary architects to address is the role of pattern within architecture (Buchanan 2012). Buchanan states that architects today are affected by modernity’s celebration of individualism and creativity as self-expression (Buchanan 2012). Within a suburban residential area, a visual repetition of housing typologies helps to create sense of place and visual harmony. It creates a sense of wholeness within a landscape, rather than using a landscape as a backdrop for creative self-expression. It’s of vast importance when designing within an environment that it is understood in its entirety. Pallasma argues that architectural work should be experienced in its full material and spiritual presence, and that it incorporates both physical and mental structure (Pallasmaa 1996). To succeed within a rural context the landscape must be integrated as an important attribute to allow both architecture and landscape to interact, addressing both as a single composition. Pallasmaa argues that there is flatness within today’s architecture due to the weakened sense of materiality (Pallasmaa 1996). Natural materials seem to be used less within today’s construction and advancing technologies. Materials such as stone, brick and wood express craft, age, history as well as the story of the origins and human use 21
(Pallasmaa 1996). There is a connection between that of the natural materials and life that in some respect, is relatable to on a human level. Additionally, Buchanan states that it is the materials that have a connection with life, in terms of aging and weathering, therefore helping man to establish an understanding enabling man to relate to them (Buchanan 2012). Buchanan continues to state that within architecture; the smallest details can profoundly affect the character and identity of a place (Buchanan 2012). This reveals the variety of detail architecture can create and the abundance of emotion we can experience on a human level in relation. One of the main attributes in terms of responding and creating meaningful architecture would be interpreting and integrating architecture within a given environment to create place. The typography of a given place can be the most influential when designing. Architect, Kenneth Frampton argues, that it is greatly important when understanding a place to understand the typography, as it is similarly as important as the existing urban fabric (Frampton 2007). We must understand the landscape, the culture and existing identity of a place to allow for man to dwell, which will ultimately allow for man to be within a given environment (Frampton 2007). The natural landscape and climate of an environment has strong connections to the built environment. Pallasmaa states that architecture is essentially an extension of nature into the man-made realm, allowing for man to have a perspective to experience and understand the world (Pallasmaa 1996). Additionally, Palasmaa states that as humans we have a need to experience the reality we are rooted within. And within this man-made world, it is the task of architecture to facilitate this experience (Pallasmaa 1996). Robinson states that a building is far more complex than a visual brief. It becomes more than a simple response to requirements within a brief, it becomes how one relates and interacts with the surrounding context, whether in a rural or urban context (Robinson 2003). Creating place essentially is how man exploits the qualities of an environment and sees the potential within their attributes. Robinson argues that place making is achieved when architecture and site successfully fuse with one another to create a single unity within an environment (Robinson 2003). Architecture being the built construct in which our culture and identity flourish enables man to develop a sense of belonging, identity and attachment to a place. It is this feeling of belonging in which man exploits the immeasurable qualities that have such affect on the way in which we perceive the world. Pallasmaa states that â€œArchitecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world, and this mediation takes place through the sensesâ€? (Pallasmaa 1996 p. 50). It becomes recognisable that the built construct has influence on the way in which we interpret a place, whether this is from the influence of material, mass or form. Architecture informs us of culture, tradition, history and time. But to create a good sense of place, there are many more attributes that contribute and physical characteristics alone do not create place (Berleant 2003). 22
IMMEASURABLE ATTRIBUTES IN RELATION TO CONSTITUTING PLACE Architecture enables man to interact with an environment. There are vast possibilities to create a number of different aesthetics, allowing for man’s understanding of different atmospheres to grow due to experience within these environments. There is a close relation between the memorable character of a place and the influence of architecture upon this. The relationship between architecture and the spirit of a place is further claimed; Schulz states that concrete things that express material, shape, texture and colour determine an environmental character, which is the fundamental make up of a place (Norberg-Schulz 1980). Similarly, Lynch states how a character of a place is made up of different elements such as shape, colour and motion as well as human senses (Lynch 1960). It is the attributes of the built construct that convey character, triggering the human sensory to respond. Anne Stenro, architect and theorist, argues to understand a place you must experience it, as “place is the most unique experience of space, it is man’s deepest experience of the environment” (Stenro 1993 p. 75). Stenro states that we must feel, within ourselves, an atmosphere and by doing so we must experience it. Additionally, Pallasmaa states that humans are only an object amongst objects, which can see, touch and experience (Pallasmaa 1996). It is our perception that allows us to gain an understanding of reality; we must interact with an environment. Stenro claims architecture is not only an art of observation, but we must use it to gain understanding. Lynch argues how an environment should be poetic and symbolic, reflecting the notion that a place should carry a purpose and relate to someone symbolically (Lynch 1960). If man can inform his own mood and feelings towards identified environments, it will then become a meaningful place (Lynch 1960). Similarly, Zumthor argues that as humans, we create our own meanings and connections through emotions, we can perceive different atmospheres (Zumthor 2005). Norberg-Schulz argues that human identity presupposes the identity of place (NorbergSchulz 1980). A place carries the essence of a character, it has an atmosphere, and this cannot be forcefully introduced. The theory of Genius Loci differs from place to place, it cannot be designed and it can only be found. Human associations with objects and places are in some way automatic and the character of a place is always apparent when it is perceived. Chris Yuill, an urban socialist, states how emotions and place are co-constitutive and work coherently (Yuill 2006). Its nearly impossible to have a place without someone who has lived within it and has some form of relation whether that’s through experience, memory or attachment. We acknowledge a place, and it is our past experiences, which allow for us to consider if this place has a likeable character or not, as place tends to be engaged by the entire body (Buchanan 2012). Yuill continues, stating that human emotions provide fuel to maintain and continue their society; human beings are emotive, rational, individual and social (Yuill 2006). All of these aspects integrate as one and are essential in regards to interpreting place. 23
Theorist, Stephan Cairns, argues that within architecture we constantly use metaphors to illustrate the life of buildings and the contribution it has within the living environment (Cairns 2014). Cairns states that there is life within the identity of the built environment. Norberg-Schulz states that to understand the identity of a place, we must understand and enhance the genius loci or spirit of the place (Norberg-Schulz 1984). Referring to a place with a spirit, acknowledges that there is something within a given environment that creates a sense of life and atmosphere with a place. In addition, Zumthor also claims that once architecture is generated into its final form and spaces, it then comes into being; it is within a living environment (Zumthor 2010). Cairns continues to illustrate how architects believe that architecture and the built form have many qualities possessed by mankind such as spirit, memory and the ability to learn (Cairns 2014). In addition, Zumthor states that through architectural form, material and texture, memories can be triggered and it is this that provokes the deepest architectural experience (Zumthor 2010). Again, Norberg-Schulz states how place is designated by nouns and that they exist with some form of character (Norberg-Schulz 1980). It seems that architecture is somewhat alive. It ages with time, adds to our history, traditions and identity. There is a strong connection between our living lives and the role architecture plays amongst it. There is a strong relationship between mood, place and architecture. Mood allows for us to create different emotions towards different objects and places. Mood can also create a sense of belonging to a certain place, thus creating emotional attachment. Lynch states, all residents within a city will have meaningful associations with parts of the city and that these associations are filled with meaningful memories and experiences (Lynch 1960). The human sensory is vast and complex, measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle (Pallasmaa 1996). It is the complexities within the built environment that allow our own senses to be raised and therefore strengthen an experience of self within a given environment or place. Pallasmaa continues to argue that an outcome of this interdependence, our unconscious and conscious attitudes and the role in which they play towards the built environment (Pallasmaa 1996). It is our own attitude and interactions that have the most essential impact on the architecture. Contradictory to Pallasmaaâ€™s statement, Menin argues that we are finding ourselves looking materially and mentally for something that may only be found spiritually (Menin 2003). Although, if only found spiritually, where? Berleant states that place is not a physical location, nor a state of mind. Similarly, Menin argued that place has become both a built construct and a construct of the mind working simultaneously (Menin 2003). Place becomes an engagement of the conscious body with all the attributes that make a specific location, an understanding between two complex interweaving circumstances (Berleant 2003).
C H APTE R T HRE E M ETHO DO LO GY
R AT IO NAL E FO R Q UA LITAT IVE A P P ROAC H Qualitative methodologies provide opportunity to gather data through means of case studies and interview processes. This allows for a more in-depth study in relation to a topic which is influenced by behaviour, opinion and feeling. Through the process of interviews and case studies, a rich and varied amount of data is gathered, providing the study with a more dynamic and in-depth means of analysis. Its important to analyse and understand the evidence gathered effectively, allowing for the data to contribute towards the study.
I NTE RV IE W PRO C ESS In order to gain a deeper understanding on the issue of place making within architecture today, a structured interview process will be conducted with a number of architects who share opinions and experience on the issue of place making within their fields. This will enable a recording of a unique perspective on current views, opinions and experience on the issue of place making within architecture today. Architects that have been selected for the interview process include, Aberdeen based Professor Gokay Deveci, Neil Gillespie director of Edinburgh based Reiach and Hall and Neil Sutherland, director of Inverness based design and build company, MAKAR.
C ASE ST UDY A NALYSIS Case studies provide an in-depth and detailed analysis of the chosen subject matter. Through investigation into selected case studies by architects who have previously been selected for the interview process, it enables the study to develop an in-depth understanding of contemporary architects who contribute to this philosophy, through their design process and architectural intent. 26
Through an in-depth analysis of selected case studies an understanding of how architects in practice today are influenced by the notion of place in terms of how they understand and approach place within their design process will be developed. It has often been said that similarities can be drawn between the Scottish and Norwegian landscapes; therefore projects have been selected due to the rural locations, cultural attributes and response to setting. By selecting four case studies, three based in Scotland and one based in Norway, the study will be more varied and rich in terms of data. Each case study individually has one aspect, may it be site, materiality or valued heritage that drives the design. Together these four case studies offer a varied and successful response to sense of place. Following on from individual case study analysis, the results will be used within a comparative analysis to highlight common themes that have risen.
C H APTE R FOU R I NTE RV IE W ANA LYSIS
In order to provide an in-depth study, a series of questions were constituted in response to the information gathered in previous sections. The questions aim to gather a wide range of information, offering a unique perspective from professionals currently informing the issue of place making. The information gathered will provide this research with valuable experience and opinions.
How would you describe place or sense of place? This question firstly formed to gain a general understanding of what architects in practice today feel towards the subject matter and obtain how important this subject is within their work and within architecture today. Creating a general discussion over the matter enabled, although risen in less detail, the main issues that constitute the topic which are shared through their individual opinion. Generally, it becomes evident that it is an issue of great importance within architecture of the past and present, as Sutherland states that “its really at the centre of what good architecture is about” (Sutherland 2015). Sense of place or place itself is a notion that has layers of complexity and is difficult to describe and pin point its identity as it’s an environment that is forever developing and changing. Gillespie states that “it changes obviously with the seasons, it changes with light and it changes with your experience with that space” (Gillespie 2015). It develops into a matter of understanding and experience. Man must experience a place to therefore identify it and identity becomes a leading attribute when trying to express the meaning and sense of a particular place. Sutherland states that “the most successful things we do are when we successfully understand places… and then make changes in terms of introducing structures, buildings … changes in a way that makes a place better than it was before” (Sutherland 2015). Similarly Deveci argues that place is about “remembering who we are and actually understanding a place, that means our experience, our value and how we judge it” (Deveci 2015). Place is very much seen as an in-depth understanding, an experience and a strong sense of identity.
What are your opinions on the current standard of architectural designs within rural landscapes with regards to creating a good sense of place? Looking into the current standard of architectural design, particularly within the rural landscapes, allowed for general discussion upon what are the key movements towards creating a good sense of place have been. The outcome of the interview indicated an agreed feeling towards a poor standard in regards to the current architectural designs within the rural landscapes. Sutherland states, “most responses in rural places are one of imposition” (Sutherland 2015). Gillespie states, “it’s all to do with care” (Gillespie 2015). Architectural design within these landscapes must be carefully considered and should indicate a “deep appreciation of the qualities of the site” (Sutherland 2015). In regards to housing within the rural landscape, Gillespie questions, “what standard of architectural design does a house have to aspire to?” (Gillespie 2015) The notion around how to create a good sense of place again comes back to the understanding and reading of places. Sutherland argues that architects must “spend a bit more time understanding the context in which we are working” (Sutherland 2015). It seems to be a general concern that the fundamental understanding of the attributes that constitute and make a place are being discarded by architectural ambition to create an abstract art form where ever the location may be. Sutherland continues stating that a lot of contemporary work presenting itself within the rural environment is “preconceptions of a solution” (Sutherland 2015) which are then tailored to the site in some way. The architecture is no longer site specific. Similarly Deveci states that these “product designs are planted in a place” (Deveci 2015). Designs are lacking general understanding of place.
What do you believe to be the main factors that contribute when creating a good sense of place? This question sought to highlight the main factors that contribute, creating a discussion of both the positive and negative attributes when contributing to a good sense of place. Gillespie shared concern on the matter, as he states the main factor in his opinion is “taking your time, and I think that’s the one thing that were not giving anymore because time equals money” (Gillespie 2015). Working with people is an essential attribute within the architectural profession. This is an attribute that becomes very constraining. Deveci argues “the road engineer dictates the place… they’re designed by planning officers and the engineers” (Deveci 2015). 31
It becomes evident that there is a pressing importance on understanding the fundamentals of a site and its context. Sutherland argues “it’s just this idea of working with places rather than against them” (Sutherland 2015). Similarly Deveci states, “whatever we do must be a reflection of our culture and identity” (Deveci 2015). The contribution that architecture makes on a place must express the livelihood of the community that thrive within the area. Gillespie argues, “it’s about really understanding what made that community live the way they do” (Gillespie 2015). The main concern expressed is about having an in-depth understanding of an environment, this became the main and crucial factor with regards to place. Sutherland argues “were seeing ourselves as contributing another layer of human experience on a place” (Sutherland 2015). Therefore, if we’re patient and as designers “really think about what you’re doing, I think you’ll be closer to a sense of place” (Gillespie 2015).
When approaching a project, how do you address contributing to and enhancing a given environment? As a starting point, there was a general agreement of having to ask the simple and basic question of what as a designer are you trying to add to a place. Deveci questions, “What do I contribute to this given environment? What is the culture and identity in the place and how does the design that I do fit into this?” (Deveci 2015). Sutherland states, “there’s always that intention that were going to contribute and that we’re going to make something and improve it” (Sutherland 2015). It’s a matter of how well and how successful this becomes, and evidently as Gillespie argues “it’s really just about going about it in a kind of intelligent, modest accountable kind of way so that you’re responsible for your own work and how it sits within a situation” (Gillespie 2015).
In your opinion, is architecture within the rural landscape responding the way it should? Creating debate over the current architecture seen within the rural landscape enabled the interviewees to respond with direction towards, in their opinion, how we should be responding as individuals and as a society. Gillespie argues “the architectural profession still finds it difficult to engage with the rural landscape… the rural landscape of people” (Gillespie 2015). As there are a small percentage of people in the architectural profession within these landscapes it’s often that “they measure it in a different way” (Gillespie 2015). The people that live within these landscapes may discard architecture that responds in a sensitive manner, as they are only familiar with their cultural traditions and regional identity. Therefore it becomes evident that we must fully understand the culture and identity of a place 32
before contribution. Sutherland states “things go wrong when people are trying to emulate” (Sutherland 2015). Additionally, Deveci argues that within the rural environment, “landscape is important, in fact more important than the buildings themselves” (Deveci 2015). The landscape and how it is altered can be a useful attribute in terms of engraving a design within its environment as Deveci argues, “the architecture has to get merry with the landscape” (Deveci 2015). Architecture and landscape should be read as one, not becoming an object that has situated itself within a landscape. Sutherland states “there is a real opportunity to try and merge these two areas in the future” (Sutherland 2015).
Can you give an example of a project you believe to create a good sense of place? This question sought to create discussion over projects that have been successful with regards to creating a good sense of place. Observations were discussed and the question of why and how these projects have succeeded had to be asked. The interviewees were modest in response, naming buildings their work aspires to or a project of their own. Sutherland states “if you can directly relate spaces to outside spaces in a positive way then you can actually increase the whole experience for people” (Sutherland 2015). The importance of landscape when creating a good sense of place is a notion that is repeatedly expressed. A good sense of place seems to be about understanding the feeling and emotion that is felt within a particular space. Through understanding the needs of the user or client, the solution reveals itself. Gillespie states, “architecture is something that is well put together, beautifully proportioned, it’s about light and sitting in the landscape respectably and elegantly (Gillespie 2015).
Architects have the ability to create place, but do you believe architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion? Sutherland argues, “it’s important to recognise that manipulating, affecting or altering human emotion is at the heart of what we do” (Sutherland 2015). Similarly Gillespie states, “that’s what architecture has the ability to do” (Gillespie 2015). It becomes evident that through a variety of attributes such as materiality, light and volume, architecture has the ability to create alternative atmospheres. Deveci argues “if it doesn’t then its not architecture. I think that must be the difference between a building and architecture” (Deveci 2015). 33
It becomes evident that architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion, but it’s a concept that is extremely difficult to pursue. Deveci states, “being able to both create a good sense of place through architecture within an environment and consider human emotion throughout a building is very difficult. And not many succeed” (Deveci 2015).
In your opinion, is creating a strong sense of place a crucial factor within successful architectural design? This question sought to highlight the significance of sense of place within architectural design. Sutherland argues “architecture for some people, it becomes an expression of a technical solution” (Sutherland 2015). Similarly Deveci states “we see architecture as sometimes either an individual creation of an art rather than it belonging to a place” (Deveci 2015). There are number of daily constraints which detract away from the ambition of creating a good sense of place throughout the design process. Deveci argues, “we seem to be lost within all these constraints rather than understanding what the strong sense of place is and how it could be created” (Deveci 2015). Fundamentally, it becomes evident that “houses clearly need to respond to people’s inner emotional needs and when they do that they are successful” (Sutherland 2015). Contradicting Sutherland’s statement, Gillespie argues, “the standard answer would be to say yes, that it is critical for successful design but there is other architectural design which might not rely on that” (Gillespie 2015). The important attribute within architecture becomes identifying what it is we are trying to express through our interventions and intentions. Sutherland states, “we could have a revolution of how our buildings are put together as they could express peoples lives, they’re intentions instead of just being an investment” (Sutherland 2015). It becomes apparent that most architects share similar theories and thoughts on sense of place within architecture but there are daily constraints such as contractors, planning officers and building regulations that detract from this ambition. Every site has a diverse number of attributes such as culture, tradition and identity that compile to create the characteristics that surround that place. Creating a good sense of place fundamentally comes down to understanding the place in which you are contributing and having the patience and time to develop towards enhancing and creating a place which feels positive, healthy and joyful for the people who experience them.
it’s important to recognise that manipulating, affecting or altering human emotion is at the heart of what we do (Sutherland 2015).
C H APTE R F IVE
CAS E STUDY ANA LYSIS
To further explore place and the notion of place, selected case studies will aid to provide an in-depth and detailed analysis of the chosen subject matter. Within this investigation, the case studies have been selected due to the architects being commended for their work in terms of creating and carefully considering the issue of place through their designs. This case study analysis will enable an in-depth study and critical evaluation on how architects understand and contribute to the place through their design process and architectural intents.
J U VE T L AN DSCA P E HOTE L GUD BANDSJUV E T, NO R DDA L , NO RWAY J ENSO N & SKODVIN
Norwegian architects Jensen & Skodvin aimed to create a landscape hotel that blended in with the natural environment. In the little village of Valldal, situated in rural Norway, modern architecture encounters the natural and cultural landscape â€“ and shows that the modern and innovative can go hand in hand with local building traditions and good, old-fashioned handicrafts (Juvet Landscape Hotel 2013). It is of great importance to understand the character and identity of a given environment before any contribution to a landscape or place. Jensen & Skodvin illustrate this within their design of Juvet, by contributing and enhancing to the diverse landscape that the unique hotel is engraved within.
M EASUREABL E AT T R IB U T ES The site of Juvet is situated in the farmyard of Burtigarden at Alstad, in Valldal. The unique accommodation also lies within a nature reserve, therefore understanding what constituted the character and identity of the reserve before any contribution was considered was very important. The architects wanted to give visitors a rare opportunity to experience being amongst this richly diverse landscape, otherwise prohibited for reasons of conservation. The aims of the reserve include conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage that is seen in abundance throughout the surrounding mountainous landscape. Rich in heritage, Jensen and Skodvin had to compliment and add to this distinctive environment. Burtigarden farm was once the largest farm within the Norddal municipality; therefore, the site is rich in history and culture, conveying a strong sense of community. The hotel focuses on nine individual rooms that are spread amongst the landscape surrounding the farmyard, although it is possible to stay amongst the more traditional houses on the farm: the mill house, the shed and the old farmhouse (Juvet Landscape Hotel 2013). The site has remained very valuable to the community and surrounding area throughout history. Landscape is the driving feature regarding this project, aiming to showcase the nature surrounding rather than focusing on its own architecture (Jan Olav Jensen) (Fouche 38
2009). Choosing to distribute the rooms throughout the site into unique individual cabins, the architects conveyed a well-considered and sensitive approach to the design. This also allowed for less impact visually upon the distinctive Norwegian landscape, “allowing the design of Juvet to work complimentary with the surrounding setting.” (Juvet Landscape Hotel 2013). Jensen and Skodvin illustrate the importance of the landscape through their minimal intervention of nine individual cabins. The sensitive approach reveals the well considered space planning and design process in order to add to this already established place. Each cabin demonstrates the consideration that was taken through careful orientation and space planning in order to make minimal impact upon its surroundings. Juvet emphasises the importance of the immeasurable qualities in relation to adding architecture into a given environment that already has a strong sense of place. The simplistic addition of minimal design reveals how to enhance the sense of place within the complex typography of the Norwegian landscape. The form of the building, made up of glass and pine, were not important in terms of external aesthetics. The form evolved from response to the heavily wooded landscape and testing typography where the architects aimed to make minimal impact. Deeply considered space planning, orientation was also a key attribute within the design. This therefore allowed for each cabin to have their own personal view of the scenery, carefully positioned so each cabin did not look onto one another. This allowed guests to experience exclusive views in solitude;
The intention was to make a protected room that was as much as possible out in the landscape.
(Jan Olav Jensen) (Fouche 2009)
Each cabin therefore has formed individually in response to the landscape and no two rooms are the same. Approximately 8m2 the rooms provided a bed, a sofa, a shower and a toilet illustrating how little is actually needed to achieve a sense of wellbeing when surrounded within such a distinctive environment. The intent of the architecture was not for the design to be commended with interior and exterior aesthetics, but for the immeasurable human response of dwelling within the design as it absorbs the landscape in front of it. Each room was constructed with either one or two glass walls, allowing visitors to feel as if they were amongst the landscape. Internally, to avoid attention being taken away from the landscape, the walls are treated with transparent oil. The oil consists of black pigments, allowing for reflection into the cabins to be minimised. The individual cabins 41
were to be placed on a set of 40mm diameter steel rods, which were drilled into the rocks. This created minimal disturbance to the existing topography and vegetation, leaving it almost untouched. The idea of being able to remove the architecture if need be, and for the landscape to been seen as untouched was an attribute the architects wanted to focus upon. It’s apparent that Jensen & Skodvin considered every aspect throughout the design of Juvet, contributing and enhancing to the natural heritage of the reserve.
I MM EASURABLE AT T R IB UT ES Through the meeting of nature, cultural heritage and modern architecture, the Norwegian architects have demonstrated how architecture can compliment and enhance a landscape of significant importance; in turn, contribute to a well-established place. What they have created strikes a chord with people; they have made something that attracts people to a rare and unique experience (Juvet Landscape Hotel 2013). Jensen & Skodvin have demonstrated how to place a modern object within a culturally distinctive landscape, by successfully integrating innovated architectural design which concentrates on preserving the qualities of a landscape; allowing for intervention and environment to be envisioned as one. Through the unique perspective that the design of the hotel offers, Jensen & Skodvin have created opportunity for man to dwell within a given environment away from populated settlements that we surround ourselves within. There becomes a great attraction to the hotel, offering guests a rare and unique perspective to view such a culturally distinctive landscape that changes day by day. The hotel did not want to read as a conventional hotel having rooms stacked upon each other. The architects wanted the visitors to have a sense of solitude within the landscape. This strong connection and relationship between the two was essential in terms of adding to and enhancing the sense of place. The architects relied upon visitors to the hotel on having an emotional response to the way in which the architects exploited the natural environment. It becomes no longer about how the visitors interact with the architecture created, it’s surrounds the concept of how visitors react to the qualities and characterises the architecture highlights. The design demonstrates the importance of considering the layers of the human sensory system as the architects revealed “it was also important to create the right sound for the hotel” (Fouché 2009). It becomes an element that drives the design.
LOT TE G LOB STUD IO D UR NESS, SUTH E R LA ND, SCOT LA ND GOKAY DE V ECI
Architect Gokay Deveci aimed to create a ceramic artists studio that closely identified with the traditional vernacular and culture within its context. Situated amongst the rural landscape of Sutherland in the North West of Scotland, a small artist studio strong in materiality has responded to the harsh and barren setting, creating its own place within its environment. Deveci illustrates through the design of little Glob studio the importance of understanding the culture and traditions within a given environment before addition into a landscape.
M EASUREABL E AT T R IB U T ES The site is situated in the rural Scottish landscape within the North West of Scotland. Site became a very critical factor as the architect wanted the project to have minimal impact on its setting as possible (Ednie 2011). Deveci wanted the design to fit comfortably within its context; therefore the use of local materials was a main attribute and concept within the design. Its location, being in the heart of Scotland, materials such a stone and timber are to been found locally enabling the project to embed itself within the landscape. This allowed the design to not detract from the picturesque environment. Before contributing to any environment, especially a rural landscape, itâ€™s significantly important to read the surrounding context for both positive and negatives before any addition is considered. The context in which the studio sits is remote and dramatic, typical of a rural Scottish landscape. Throughout the rural landscapes itâ€™s often to come across dry stone dykes crossing numerous fields, directing paths, and dividing up the land. The site itself had reminisces of these walls and a fireplace which has influenced the location of the design directly. Farm buildings dotting around the hillsides often comprise timber clad walls and corrugated iron. One of the main objectives for Deveci was to incorporate these local materials into his design wrought by the local workforce (Ednie 2011). This enabled the artistâ€™s private studio to have a connection with the surrounding landscape, culture, traditions and craft of the area.
The Lotte Glob Studio is very much based around the clients needs. The way in which the studio was to be used became an attribute that drove the design process and critical decision-making. This depth in understanding on how the user was to work and be within the studio was essential through the design process. It enabled an insight into how the studios were to work, therefore shaping spaces through form, material and light allowed differences in atmosphere within the studio and exhibition spaces. The 60m2 studio is made up of a double-height internal workspace and exhibition space, enabling light to flood into the studio. There is also a large partially covered paved terrace that is ordinated to the south allowing external workspaces to develop (Ednie 2011). A strong relationship between internal and external spaces developed through these flexible spaces. Large sliding glazed doors situated within the studio space enable spill out space onto the terrace and offer views of Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll (Ednie 2011). Internally, the structure comprises of timber-framed walls that have been finished in plywood. Additionally it has been shelved with laminated timber, allowing the artist to have flexible exhibition space throughout the studio. It becomes evident that Deveci has created an innovative design that proposed new typologies in terms of materiality form and flexibility in response to the rural landscape of the Scottish borders.
I MM EASURABLE AT T R IB UT ES Materially is an attribute that has been carefully considered throughout the design of Lotte Glob. The decision to use locally sourced materials that can be seen around within the sites context, offer insight into the past traditions and heritage of the area. There is a sense of history and time throughout materials such as stone, timber and corrugated iron; they drive a connection to the past and open stories of local craft. Materials were chosen that would weather in colour and texture, ageing gracefully in harmony with changes in the seasons (Ednie 2011). The site itself offered solutions to Deveci. It becomes evident that there was an in-depth analysis of the site before contribution was made. The remains of past dry stonewalls influenced the location of the design in both location and orientation. The workspaces were ordinated towards the views of Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll. This allowed the artist to feel some form of inspiration every morning when she arrived at her workplace. Through responding to the site in an emotional manner, respectful decisions towards the site and approach to the design itself were able to formulate. The way in with the client works has shaped much of the design. Long narrow windows puncture the North wall to allow dramatic light into the sculpture and studio spaces creating opportunity for moments throughout times of day. Two extended walls towards the west and east create a frame and shelter for an evolving sculpture garden. When creating space, itâ€™s important to think about the future and how time will work 47
against or for a design. Deveci intuitively responding to this notion, and inspired by the creativity surrounding the site, the artist has transformed an area of barren windblown rocks into a natural and monumental sculpture garden (Ednie 2011). her vision to create a place where she could live, work and exhibit seemed possible. Her idea was to build something that would reflect and complement her work and be environmentally conscious of the surroundings. Wherever possible, she wanted the materials of the house to be from local sources and local tradespeople to do the work. The remaining acres would be turned into a â€˜sculpture croftâ€™, and so her vision would be complete (country life)
W EAV E RS COT TAGE S ELKIRK, SCOT T ISH BO R DE RS R EI ACH AND HA LL
Weaver’s Cottage is located near Selkirk in the heart of the Scottish Borders. The Edinburgh based architectural firm Reich and Hall carried out a refurbishment and extension to the existing stone cottage. In this remote wilderness of the Scottish landscape, the old traditional vernacular meets the modern and innovative. Reiach and Hall illustrate the importance of understanding the character and identity within a given place before careful consideration in relation to responding to both the existing and natural environment.
M EASUREABL E AT T R IB U T ES The stone cottage is situated near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. The setting that the cottage surrounds itself in is vast and typically recognisable as a Scottish landscape. The stone cottage is engraved within the landscape itself, resting within its own environment with no conscious boundary or garden (Reiach and Hall Architects 2011). It’s of regular occurrence to see a small stone cottage surrounding itself by the landscape throughout rural Scotland. It offers insight into the past and is rich in tradition and culture. Stone cottages that lay dotted upon the landscape once housed the workers that thrived off the land surrounding. Others offered shelter form the harsh climate. The landscape surrounding the stone cottage overshadows and emphasises the dominance of the cottages context. The stone cottage is a refurbishment of the existing shelter and an extension towards the North. The clients for the rework of the remote cottage were two artists and their families. The interest in art influenced the design greatly in terms of form and how the design would direct light during different times of the day. Understanding the client’s work and what best suited how they worked enabled boundaries and direction in the design process of refurbishment. The clients work centres around drawing by means of the sun. Through burning marks and patterns by use of a magnifying glass onto a jetsam piece of wood, these discarded objects became works of art (Reiach and Hall Architects 2011). Understanding the client and the surrounding environment shaped the concept for the extension. The 50
concept and form of the extension developed into a basic bothy form portraying itself as a shadow cast on the hill (Reiach and Hall Architects 2011). The extension is clad in black charred timber slats to convey this sense of shadow, although internally the accommodation is open plan to allow floods of light into a the modern living spaces.
I MM EASURABLE AT T R IB UT ES It becomes evident that understanding what the client or users needs are makes the building more successful. Through this strong understanding of how the artist works, a concept has arisen enabling both architect and client to develop layers of understanding between each other that is expressed through the work at Weaverâ€™s Cottage. Having such a strong understanding with a client, the intentions of the design begin to develop layers of depth. The conceptual idea combines notions and passions about Scotland and the North, this coupled with an understanding of how the artist works and uses a space (Reiach and Hall Architects 2011). This combination of these elements lead to a well considered and sensitive design approach in terms of relation to its place and user. The landscape is a dominant feature within this design, and this relationship to the traditional and cultural aspects of the Scottish landscapes are evident. The architects did not want to implement a strong modern design approach onto this traditional styled stone cottage. Instead they took the abstract idea of shadows and implicated this towards the back of the building, resulting in a dramatic and interesting space. The bothy has already aged with time in terms of embedding itself within the landscape, allowing for the new innovative building to also fit comfortably within its context. The extension cladded in black charred timber adds to the conceptual idea of a shadow being cast upon a hillside. In many ways this becomes a sensitive way of design, in terms of the design not implicating and subtract away from the existing. The design of the extension is well considered and sensitive to its context, allowing for the picturesque idea of a cottage sitting within the vast landscape to not be implicated.
D I RO L LO HO US E ULLAPO O L , SCOT LA ND M AKAR
Scottish Architectural Design and Build Company MAKAR aimed to design a new house that fitted within the characteristics of the steep sloping site located with the distinctive Scottish landscape. Loch Broom is situated 4 miles from Ullapool, a small town on the North West of Scotland. Rich in cultural heritage, the Scottish landscapes can be testing in terms of climate and typography. It becomes essential to gain an understanding of the context before initial design responses are made. Illustrating this through enhancing and contributing to the characteristics of the site, the Di Rollo House has engraved itself within the surrounding context.
M EASUREABL E AT T R IB U T ES Situated within the Scottish Highlands, the site and its context are culturally distinctive and valued in regards to its heritage. The traditional vernacular within the highlands is Scottish timber, and through the design consideration of MAKAR, they illustrate how to respond regionally with beauty, meaning and content (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009). The site is one of three development sites adjacent to each other. The site was characterised by long spectacular views to the Southeast and West across the distinctive landscape. Together with the steepness of the site, it was of importance to design for a house that will over time engrave itself into the landscape, illustrating the need for a longterm approach to place making (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009). Itâ€™s of importance to be able to see future for a new build and how it will fit within the landscape, instead of being placed upon. Embedding a new build into its context enables it to become part of its surroundings, creating a good sense of place. The site steeply slopes; therefore responding to the landscape in complimentary fashion becomes more complex. MAKAR illustrates how to place a new build within the distinctive setting through the design of Di Rollo House. The design solution forms three terraces with a single sloping roof structure to imitate the sloping terrain below. In order to create a strong connection to the landscape, turd was applied to the roof, allowing the design to not interrupt the flow of the landscape. Through doing so, MAKAR 54
illustrate and emphasises the importance of a relation between architecture and place. The stepped terrace form allowed for undisturbed views out onto the landscape with every drop in level. This allowed the project to convey a strong relationship to the landscape and its place. Through careful orientation, the plan demonstrates how to respond to the surrounding setting and sunlight, creating positive outdoors spaces, shelter and microclimate garden areas. Through the design of these spaces, the occupants are encouraged to have a relationship with the natural environment through the interaction with the built construct. This creates a flow within the design and the function of the project, creating a desirable house which is fully responsive to the sun and its setting (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009). Within the highlands, timber is the only renewable construction material and it is seen in abundance. MAKAR aim to challenge this and â€œrespond to the materials of our regionâ€? (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009) through the use of locally sourced timber, allowing the design to add to the culture and valued heritage of its context. European Larch cladding has been used on the external walls. This was left untreated to allow the timber to weather silver grey over time.
I MM EASURABLE AT T R IB UT ES The Di Rollo House demonstrates the meeting of tradition, culture and valued heritage whilst being integrated amongst nature. Through consideration of the given conditions, orientation and level change, the design allows complimentary response to the landscape. Allowing the design to engrave itself within the setting and enhance its sense of place. Through using local sourced timber, the architects establish and build a strong connection to the local heritage and culture. Internally, the craftsmanship of the timber is evident, with large timber trusses opening up the plan to allow light to flood into the spaces. These large openings allow a frequent connection with the landscape whilst circulating through the house. The design fits within the landscape, allowing man to dwell within a natural and distinctive environment. MAKAR illustrates how to consider a design as a meaningful project and a hardship of craft rather than architectural art forms (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009).
C H APTE R SIX
COMPARATIV E CA SE ST U DY A NA LYS I S
The case studies selected have highlighted a number of attributes that are involved when understanding and contributing within the notion of place. A comparative analysis of the selected case studies will reveal common themes that have emerged though the in-depth critical analysis of these projects. Investigating into these common themes will enable an evaluation of how architects understand and interpret, in terms of creating architecture that answers to a place, and or, architecture that creates its own place within an environment. Clear, direct and concise observations from each case study may influence the outcome of the study, enabling a design framework to develop. As previously stated, place can be described as both a natural environment and built construct. Comprising both of these environments are the measurable and immeasurable qualities that allows for man to articulate the differences between form, structure, mood, and emotion. Splitting the analysis into two subsections allows for a more in-depth analysis of the topics that influence and contribute to place.
M EASUREABL E AT T R IB U T ES It becomes apparent that the first and foremost element of importance becomes the site itself and the context that it sits within. The site is an attribute that must be critically analysed before contribution is made. Itâ€™s evidentially then of great important to read the characteristics that comprise a site and familiarise ones self with its identity, culture and the heritage that it thrives itself with. Matching the identity that the site and its context portray is somewhat essential to knitting a design into its landscape, especially within a rural environment. Within the Juvet Landscape Hotel, site is an attribute that had to be fully understood, as misunderstanding the character and identity of the nature reserve the site sits within would have drawn a fine line between the design succeeding or failing within its location. Similarly within Deveciâ€™s Lotte Glob studio, identifying and understanding the traditions and cultural identity within the rural landscape was essential. 58
The characteristics of any given site in many ways reveal and indicate towards possible design solutions. This is evident within the Di Rollo House through the design consideration taking from MAKAR, illustrating how to respond regionally with beauty, meaning and content within a given environment (Neil Sutherland Architects LLP 2009). The design of this house reflects the landscape it has embedded itself within, echoing the slope of the landscape through the roof pitch. This evidently shows deep appreciation towards the qualities of the site. This in depth understanding of site is also evident with the Juvet Landscape Hotel. The Norwegian typography is testing and complex, although the architects have intelligently orientated their cabins in terms of space planning and particular placement, to conserve and enhance its surroundings. Unlike the other case studies, the Weavers Cottage by Reiach and Hall was a small cottage that presented a sense of loneliness within the vast and barren Scottish landscape. As the project consisted of a restoration and extension, the architects had a historic basis to start from. The cottage already presented itself deep within the cultural heritage that surrounded the area, allowing for a more abstract and elemental approach to be taken towards the new extension. Although great influence was to be taken from the gradient of the surrounding hillsides. Having a strong understanding of the cultural and natural heritage of the surroundings areas, for all four projects, was essential towards the success of their designs. It is apparent that landscape is the driving feature within all of four case studies. It’s the most dominant feature that any design must fit and embed itself within to create a harmony and natural looking environment. Each case study approaches the landscape in a different manner, but it is the designs that fit themselves within the landscape, the landscape does not fit itself around the buildings. Through these case studies it has become apparent that there are a variety of ways to approach designing for and within a landscape. Landscape is a complexity that architects seem to sub side, when landscape and architecture should be read as one as “architecture comes into being when a total environment is made visible” (Norberg –Schulz 1980 p. 23). A site within an urban context allows for boundaries and constraints within the design, within the rural landscape architecture can become its own in terms of creating its own boundaries within the Scottish barren landscape. Evidently within the Juvet design, the typography was testing so the orientation and space planning of the design was well considered and respective of its context. Responding to the typography through design can allow a more natural approach to designing in terms of relating and becoming an abstraction and contribution to the site. Landscape is an element that can be conserved and respectively approached through a number of attributes. It becomes an element that can also be celebrated through an abstracted view and expressed through an architectural ambition and intent that evidently, can be explored in alternative ways.
Materiality is a powerful attribute within design. There is a variety within it that can allow for alternative atmospheres creating differences in culture, craft and tradition. Again, materiality is in essence about responding to the surrounding setting and reading the environment. Architecture becomes a physical manifestation of culture and identity and housing is an important part of it, especially within the rural landscape (Deveci 2015). Traditional and local sourced materials were an attribute Deveci deeply considered when designing as it allowed Lotte Glob to become part of its surrounding as Deveci wanted minimal impact upon its setting as possible (Ednie 2011). By pursuing so, the materiality enables the studio to have direct relation to its context. Similarly, MAKAR used a strong sense of materiality to respond regionally to its surroundings. Arguably, the strong sense of materiality that in many ways mimics its context may not have to occur to create a good sense of place. Jensen and Skodvin demonstrate this notion within their design by celebrating the landscape within the area rather than the architecture. Detracting attention away from the external and internal aesthetics, the attraction of the design is directed towards the unique perspective and experience gained through dwelling within the accommodation. This minimal approach in architectural expression allowed visitors to be within an environment, showing how little is needed to gain a good sense of wellbeing when surrounded in such a distinctive and powerful landscape. Although, materiality is an attribute that evidently enables architectural expression, allowing architects to response regionally to the valued heritage that surrounds culture, tradition and identity. Materiality can also convey a more abstract and elemental approach when portraying an architectural ambition. This is expressed within the design of Reiach and Hallâ€™s Weaverâ€™s Cottage extension. The conceptual idea of the extension conveyed an abstracted outline shadow of the bothy cast on the hillside behind. This allowed for a darkened sense of materiality. The architects were able to express this sense of shadow through the use of black charred timber slats. This mimicking of shadow, through the use of darkened materials, encourages associations on a human level and an intuitive understanding.
I MM EASURABLE AT T R IB UT ES Architecture enables man to experience an environment. Within its simplistic form, it allows man to gain a sense of belonging to a particular place and therefore, dwell. Through the process of dwelling, man informs a relationship between place and built form, revealing this unique connection between architecture and the living world (Zumthor 2010). It therefore becomes architecture that must manipulate this world and create differences in atmosphere to live within and experience. The choices we make as designers through material, form, volume and orientation allow us to direct human emotion and create positive places for man to thrive. It becomes our duty, as 60
designers, to create places that promote healthy living and lifestyle in a positive manner. Architecture enables man to be integrated into an environment and our domicile becomes integrated within our body and being (Pallasmaa 1996). Within the Juvet landscape hotel, the architectâ€™s response to the landscape resulted in several small and unique individual cabins that are spread throughout the nature reserve. The aim was not to stun visitors with spectacular architectural expression, but rather to reveal the beauty that is in abundance out with the populated towns and cities. These small cabins highlight how little is needed to gain a good sense of wellbeing without being surrounding by the technological luxuries that are often in close proximity within the populated settlements. The design strikes a chord with people, attracting people to dwell within an environment that offers new perspective, changing day by day (Juvet Landscape Hotel 2013). Contrary to this minimalistic notion, the other three case studies are working to a more constrictive brief directed towards the needs to the user and client. Although, the landscape can still be seen as an influence upon their designs encouraging, if not shaping, the architectural intentions through form, space planning, orientation and materiality. The Lotte Glob studio is evidently influenced by the local craftsmanship seen throughout the materiality within its context. This enables the architecture to gain a sense of belonging and identity within its place. The use of local materials such a stone, timber and corrugated iron create an essence of life, a connection with age and time, an aspect relatable to through human experience. These natural materials express craft, age, history as well as stories of their origins and human use (Pallasmaa 1996). This concept has enabled the Lotte Glob studio to relate to its surrounding context and people, as well as creating a place of its own within its environment. The Di Rollo House has responded to the qualities within its landscape. The distinctive sloping site is echoed through the roof pitch, allowing the house to become one with its environment and not implicate or detract from the sites aesthetics. The house has three distinct level changes that allow the design to engrave itself within the site. This creates a desirable connection between internal and external on each level, providing positive outdoor spaces and microclimate garden areas. This relationship between the built and natural environment is of great importance in regards to creating a sense of place for ones self. It enables a flow between these environments, allowing a purposefully built atmosphere become less rigid and more poetic. Similarly, the artist working with Lotte Glob Studio developed a sculpture garden surrounding the studio, which has allowed the design to engrave itself within this barren and harsh landscape. These sculptures, similar in a sense to the stone dyke walls seen throughout the Scottish wilderness, have created their own place within this environment. Through this analysis it becomes evident that there are common themes that contribute to the notion of place. Although, depending on the environment in which you are 61
designing within or for, the contributing attributes and their importance in the design process can shift. It becomes essential to have an in-depth understanding of the identity, culture and traditions that surround and a particular place before contribution can be made.
C H APTE R SE VE N CONCLUSIO N
The driving intention behind this research was to understand the measurable and immeasurable complexities of place making and the notion of place through its relationship to architecture within the rural landscape. This research has allowed for an in-depth analysis of the philosophy, the histories and the influences that architecture has on the role of creating places, which in turn, reflect the importance for both the built and natural environment we design for, design within and live. Through a rich diversity of comparative evidence of philosophical literature and theories as well as built precedent and interviews with practicing architects, this study attempted to unravel the depth of creating place and gain an understanding of the role that architecture plays within the topic. First, the study sought out to gain an in-depth understanding of the main arguments regarding place. This allowed for the research to have a convincing foundation in developing an in-depth understanding of the main philosophers, theorists, architects and their arguments towards the notion of place. This study was divided into subsections to allow a more direct and critical analysis of attributes within the topic. First, asking the question of what is the importance of place within the built and natural environment and how do the attributes that constitute react and counteract? It becomes evident that there is a connection between architecture and man that helps man to dwell within a given environment and creates a sense of belonging for ones self by pursuing so. Manâ€™s place within the world is that of experience and being. Zumthor states that architecture has a unique connection with life (Zumthor 2010) and it the task of an architect to integrate this relationship through appropriate architectural expression. Schulz states an architect has the task of creating places that are meaningful, thus helping man to dwell (Norberg-Schulz 1979). It is within our being to identify a situation to which we will express our belonging, thus being a place to dwell. This sense of identity and belonging is evidently a factor of importance that has comprised itself within this layer upon layer of complexities regarding the notion of place. Therefore it is to be addressed within our architecture with the utmost importance. Fraser argues that without a sense of belonging to a place, manâ€™s identity somewhat vanishes and man cannot dwell but merely wander through environments (Fraser 2013). Place becomes a forever developing atmosphere in which the event of human living occurs. The importance of man within a whole environment becomes more evident 64
and understanding how we are to interact within a place is of importance. Jensen & Skodvin expressed this notion through the minimal and sensitive design approach of the Juvet Landscape Hotel. Highlighting how to enhance the valuable qualities of the site through their design, illustrating how little is needed to achieve a sense of wellbeing, an attribute that lies at heart of what architecture concerns. Architecture should enhance our experience of being within any environment. It marks our being in the world at a certain period of time, revealing history, culture and traditions, which allows man to have a sense of belonging and attachment to a place. The study then questioned the measurable and immeasurable attributes that constitute place. It becomes evident that place is the interweaving relationship between both of these attributes. Throughout this research, the importance of topics such as identity and culture becomes evident in regards to creating and identifying place. This was evident within the design of the Di Rollo House as MAKAR illustrated how to respond regionally within beauty, meaning and content (Neil Sutherland LLP 2009). Architecture allows for an expression of man’s being in the world; this idea of portraying self identity through the built form allows for a variety within expression, in turn, a variety within culture. Cultural identity allows for diversity within communities and the traditions in which these communities thrive themselves in, allowing man to familiarise himself with a society and place. Zumthor states that every building is built for a specific use, place and society and that in time will grow naturally to be apart of a character that surrounds a distinctive place (Zumthor 2010). It is this character that, as designers, must be identified before any contribution can be made within these places. It’s evident that place must first be fully understood and acknowledgment of the diversity present within atmospheres, location and place. These aspects must first be distinguished through physical form, even if only first recognized through its immeasurable attributes. This notion becomes evident within the selected case study analysis. Deveci interpreted the tradition and culture that was lying within the site of the Lotte Glob Studio and exploited its valued heritage through the aesthetics of the design. Understanding a particular place becomes a strong combination of visualizing the physical elements that constitute the site, whilst interrupting the atmosphere of its surrounding environment to recognize within one self, its identity. The human sensory it’s a fundamental and influential attribute enabling one to develop an unconscious and conscious attitude towards a given environment (Pallasmaa 1996). Highlighted at the start of the research, it becomes clear architects must understand that there is “no convenient recipe for place making” (Berleant 2003 p.52) although; further research into particular individual environments may enable a regionalist framework. Architecture evidently is an interpretation of an in depth understanding within particular place, which can be expressed in alternative ways through the built form. Designing with a rural environment becomes particular complex. Landscape is evidently the most dominating feature within a rural context and creating a piece of 65
architecture that works in harmony with the measurable and immeasurable qualities of these environments is difficult. “Landscape is important, in fact more important than the buildings themselves” (Deveci 2015) as the integration between architecture and landscape, allows a design to engrave itself within a place. It’s evident that man expresses a lot of joy and happiness from engaging with positive external spaces, although, people within today’s society spend most of their time inside. Sutherland stated “if you can directly relate spaces to outside spaces in positive ways then you can actually increase that whole experience for people” (Sutherland 2015). The natural environment is complex in terms of variety and typography and it is when we engage within these environments we feel joyful. Creating these spaces within our designs should be at the heart of our designs, as architecture allows people to feel positive. It’s evident that “there is a real opportunity to try and merge these two areas in the future” (Sutherland 2015). The connection between the natural and built environment is essential and “the human interaction with nature should be at the heart of the creation of place” (Menin 2003 p. 234). The study highlights the importance of interpreting an environment in regards to tradition, culture and history. In order to respond in a sensitive and respectful manner, the use of these materials may be influential within the aesthetics of the design. An element that was evident in Deveci’s Lotte Glob Studio. This allows for the design to embed itself within its surrounding context, as it continues this repetition, not interrupting or detracting away from the environment as a whole. It becomes clear that materials can work in harmony with an environment or against, in turn, creating its own place within or a place of its own. The variety in aesthetics of any design allows for alterative human responses, whether this is expressed through material, form, mass or orientation. Highlighted at the beginning of this research, there has been a rise in people who are choosing to migrate to the rural countryside in search of a better quality of life (Scottish Government 2005). But it became clear that the houses were not designed to enhance or contribute to their context, but as an investment as the majority of people in today’s society measure quality in m2. It becomes a society driven association of a large house with an over flowing garden equals a joyful and happy life. But are people wrong to have this association? This becomes evident as Gillespie stated “the architectural profession still finds it difficult to engage with… the rural landscape of people… they measure it in a different way” (Gillespie 2015). The planning and building regulation seem to detract from the ambition of creating a good sense of place for a design, as Deveci stated “we seem to be lost within all these constraints rather than understanding what the strong sense of place is and how it could be created” (Deveci 2015). This study indicated the importance of the human sensory when responding to architecture. Our appreciation of a place may differ between alterative experiences and individuals. Zumthor states that as humans, we create our own meanings and 66
connections through emotions, we can perceive different atmospheres (Zumthor 2005). Architect has the ability to create immeasurable qualities, allowing people to feel positivity or negatively within particular spaces. Although, architects can only assume the response of the human sensory, as negative associates to the past may “colour your senses” (Gillespie 215) when interacting within a positive environment. Man lives within rural and urban built environments and our associations of particular places are filled with meaningful memories and experiences (Lynch 1960). Humans are only objects amongst objects, which can see, touch and experience (Pallasmaa 1996) so as designers we much challenge and heighten the senses. Architecture marks our being in the world, although, architects today may have lost the fundamental importance of what it means to dwell. We must return to placing people first, as it is to only ourselves we owe. Sutherland stated regarding sense of place “it’s something that hasn’t been given enough attention” (Sutherland 2015). Evidently through the extent of this research, creating a good sense of place is a complex reel of interweaving layers that all contribute to what we call architecture. After the real world constraints involved in the built environment such as building regulations and planning officer, this poetic notion of place becomes distance when no longer formed with a written word or beautiful sketch. Place is the foundation to all architecture and it is the most critical basis to where, evidently, sense of place must be first influenced and the main concern driving a design. Returning to the question, what is the architects’ role when constituting place with a rural landscape? Evidently through this research, place can not be defined. The notion of place however, becomes the interweaving relationship between the measurable and immeasurable attributes that comprise a particular environment. Although, any description would have to be altered for each individual environment, as no two places are the same. Place therefore cannot be defined, but the importance of understanding a particulate place is fundamental towards successfully integrating a design within an environment. Architects have the ability to absorb atmospheres, interpreting the valuable qualities within an environment, and then expressing this understanding of place through the built form. Architecture essentially is how we experience a particular atmosphere or place; it expresses our being in the world. Sutherland states, “I mean at the end of the day the places that we make symbolise how we relate to the world and what we think is important within this world” (Sutherland 2015). Architects have the opportunity to contribute to any given place through architecture; in turn we must fully understand a place and what it comprises of. Through understanding the attributes that contribute, it enables designers to enrich the qualities of a place through architecture;
“In planning practices and in architectural expressions, this is what we have to look for and build for.“
(Doshi 2007 p. 118)
Further study would be recommended into this research as it has become evident the variety and numerous amounts of attributes that work together, integrating to constitute place. This has somewhat limited the study and further research would be beneficial towards gaining a more in depth understanding of place, what constitutes place and the architects role within the notion. No two places are the same; each environment is individual expressing its own distinct characteristics. Therefore a wider scope of alternative environments such as coastal sites, rural, woodland, mountainous, urban and suburban locations to enable the research to have a strong analysis to allow for a regionalist framework to develop. Utilising a larger base of architects with the research and expanding the study towards other professionals such as planning officers and building regulation control officers would be beneficial to the outcome of the study. It has become evident that these constraints impact and in many cases, detract the ambition to create a good sense of place, although, these professionals are in place to pursue this goal. Additionally, to further this research a more in depth knowledge and understanding of landscape would allow more accurate a concise conclusions to be drawn, in regards to designing within a rural landscape. Therefore contribution and participation from Landscape Architect professional would be beneficial towards to outcome of this research.
“The timeless task of architecture is to create embodied existential metaphors that concretise and structure man’s being in the world. Architecture reflects, materialises and eternalises ideas and images of ideal life. Buildings and towns enable use to structure, understand and remember the shapeless flow of reality and, ultimately, to recognise and remember who we are. Architecture enables us to perceive and understand the dialectics of permanence and change, to settle ourselves in the world, and to place ourselves in the continuum of culture.”
(Pallasmaa 1996 p. 50)
RE FEREN CE LIST LITERATURE
BERLEANT, A., 2003. The aesthetic in place. In: MENIN. S, ed. Constructing Place: mind and the Matter of Place-making. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 41-53 CAIRNS, S., Jacobs, J., 2014. Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. DOSHI, B., 2007. Cultural Continuum and Regional identity in Architecture. In: CANIZARO. V, ed. Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 110-118 FRAMPTON, K., 2007. Ten Points on an Architecture of Regionalism: A Provisional Polemic. In: CANIZARO. V, ed. Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 375385 JACOBS, J., 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. London: John Dickens and Conner Ltd. LYNCH, K., 1960. The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. MENIN, S., ed., 2003. Constructing Place: mind and the Matter of Place-making. New York, NY: Routledge. NORBERG-SCHULZ, C., 1971. Existence Space and Architecture. London: Studio Vista NORBERG-SCHULZ, C., 1980. Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. London: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. NORBERG-SCHULZ, C., 1984, The Concept of Dwelling. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. PALLASMAA, J., 1996. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. London: Academy Group Ltd. 70
ROBINSON, M., 2003. Place making: the notion of centre: A typological investigation of means and meanings. In: MENIN. S., ed. Constructing Place: mind and the Matter of Place-making. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 143-152 YUILL, C., 2006. Global Perspectives & Local Issues: Medical Sociology in North-East Scotland. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University. ZUMTHOR, P., 2010. Thinking Architecture. Switzerland: Birkhauser. ZUMTHOR, P., 2005. Atmospheres. Switzerland: Birkhauser.
I NTE RNE T SO U RCES EDNIE, C., 2011. Exclusive; Gokay Deveci – New Projects. [online]. Architecture+DesignScotland. Available from: http://www.ads.org.uk/access/features/ exclusive-gokay-deveci-new-projects-2 FRASER, M., 2013. Rebuilding a place called home. [online]. Glasgow: Herald Scotland. Available from: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/essay-of-theweek-rebuilding-a-place-called-home.21536355 [Accessed 2nd December 2014] FOUCHÉ, G., 2009. Wilderness in Widescreen. [online]. Norway: The Observer. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2009/jun/28/norway-juvet-landscape-hotel [Accessed 14 January 2015] REICH AND HALL., 2011. Ackling Cook Bothy. [online]. ArchDaily. Available from: http:// www.archdaily.com/154007/ackling-cook-bothy-reiach-and-hall-architects/ [Accessed 11 March 2015] SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT., 2005. Planning Advice Note 72: Housing in the Countryside. [online]. Edinburgh Scottish Government. Available from: http://www.gov.scot/ Publications/2005/02/20637/51636 [Accessed 10th March 2015] STENROS, A., 1993. Orientation, Identification, Representation: Space Perception in Architecture. [online]. pp. 75-88. Available from: http://cumincad.architexturez.net/ system/files/pdf/275e.content.pdf [Accessed 25 November 2014] SUTHERLAND, N., 2009. Planning & Design of Rural Housing. [online]. Neil Sutherland Architects LLP. Available from: http://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/212607/0088369.pdf [Accessed 23 April 2015] 71
BI B LIO G RAP HY LITERATURE
ALEXANDER, C., et al. 1977. A Pattern Language. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. CANIZARO, V., 2007. Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press GLENDINNING, M., 1997. Rebuilding Scotland: the post war vision 1945 – 1975. United Kingdom: Tuckwell Press Ltd. NAISMITH, R., 1985. Buildings of the Scottish Countryside. London, UK: Gollancz Paperbacks RAPOPORT, A., 2002. House form and culture. United States: Prentice-Hall Inc.
I NTE RNE T SO U RCES DEVECI, G., 2014. Culture must be part of new homes. [online]. Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Available from: http://www.scotsman.com/news/culture-must-be-part-ofnew-homes-1-3559968 [Accessed 29th November 2014] HEIDEGGER. M., 1971. Poetry, Language, Thought. [online]. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Available from: http://ssbothwell.com/documents/ebooksclub.org__Poetry__ Language__Thought__Perennial_Classics_.pdf [Accessed 22nd January 2015] Urban Realm., 2011. Weaver’s Cottage. [online]. Urban Realm Ltd. Available from: http://www.urbanrealm.com/buildings/630/Weaver’s_Cottage_.html [Accessed 14th April 2015] Country Life., 2007. Lotte Glob’s ceramic studio and sculpture croft. [online]. Time Inc. Available from: http://www.countrylife.co.uk/art-and-antiques/fine-art/lotte-globsceramic-studio-and-sculpture-croft-38613
APPEN DIX ON E
I NTE RV IE W Q UEST IO NS
1. How would you describe place or sense of place? 2. What are your opinions on the current standard of architectural designs within rural landscapes with regards to creating a good sense of place? 3. What do you believe to be the main factors that contribute when creating a good sense of place? 4. When approaching a project, how do you address contributing to and enhancing a given environment? 5. In your opinion, is architecture within the rural landscape responding the way it should? 6. Can you give an example of a project you believe to create a good sense of place? 7. Architects have the ability to create place, but do you believe architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion? 8. In your opinion, is creating a strong sense of place a crucial factor within successful architectural design?
APPEN DIX T WO
I NTE RV IE W TRA NSCR IPT G O K AY D E VECI
27TH APRIL 2015
JM : How would you describe place or sense of place? GD : Okay, I think your talking about the notion of good place making or a sense of place. If I say that, buildings in towns enable us to structure, understand and remember the shapeless flaws of reality and ultimately recognise and remember who we are, this is the Finnish architect Pallasmaa. So that tells me, its all about remembering who we are and actually understanding a place, that means our experience and our value, and how we judge I think that’s what sense of place means to me. JM : What are your opinions on the current standard of architectural designs within rural landscapes with regards to creating a good sense of place? GD : I think, exactly what I’ve said describing sense of place, when we look at those place and I don’t think that tells us who we are, I think so many similar things or product designs are planted in a place so from that point of view, right, it does not make, never mind a good sense of place, it doesn’t make a place in the first place because it just becomes a construction and product design of lots of buildings. And it is so quick in our landscape and so out step of the capacity of the people who judges the design and almost the road engineer dictates the place. And they still dictate the layout and that cannot make a place. So yeah current standards, that’s what I mean, they design by planning officers and the engineers. So it’s all meeting revelations building so there is no creating good sense of place. They are creating, car parks and drive ins. JM : What do you believe to be the main factors that contribute when creating a good sense of place? GD : I think you may be asking this question from the housing point of view? So if I can say architecture is physical manifestation of culture and identity and the housing is the part of it. The main factors must be that whatever we do must be a reflection of our culture and identity for a start of the place belongs to it. So the main factors will be the materiality, how it fits to the landscape, and or, if you like, maybe I should call it the regional identity. I’m just wondering regionalist sensibility if you would like to call it that. 74
Could it be the framework for the higher architecture quality that makes a place? Does that make sense? What I mean is not actually seeing it as a product in design but bring rationalist approach and understanding of the places culture and its belonging, and then working with it, making that the framework. That could be the landscape, could be the materiality, the people, and how the things knit or fits or it could be climate. So I think that perhaps regionalist approach is the way forward for that question. JM : When approaching a project, how do you address contributing to and enhancing a given environment? GD : I think I’m going to use Kenneth Frampton’s words for that, the peculiarities of particular space. I don’t know, what does that mean? That means culture of the place and regional identity, right? So this is where I have to start. What do I contribute to the given environment? What is the culture and identity in the place and how does the design that I do fit into this? If you like to call it regionalist framework perhaps that’s the way for me to contribute and enhance a given place. Regionalist framework. Does that make sense? Maybe not, but I think if you think about regionalism you’ll know what I mean by that. I mean I’ve already repeated myself on what I would do, landscape, place, culture and all of things. JM : In your opinion, is architecture within the rural landscape responding the way it should? GD : Well landscape I think is part of the main thing in rural housing I would say, well in many housing schemes but in rural housing schemes in particular. And the architecture has to get merry with the landscape anyway in terms of the contours, in terms of the roots, in terms of how they come together. In fact I could actually say that, we could make a mistake with the landscape. But also by using the landscape we could almost manage that mistake somewhat. Some people will say that the landscape between the buildings are more important than the buildings themselves, because they actually help the buildings to settle and make this connection between the building and the landscape. So I would argue that actually a good landscape design would have spaces between the design incorporated could be more successful than the architectural design in the way that the form is fitted. Does that make sense? So that means the landscape is important, in fact more important the buildings themselves. JM : Can you give an example of a project you believe to create a good sense of place? GD : Yes I could, I’m going to be modest and say one of my own. The Lotte Glob studio and house and her sculpture garden. Her garden the she managed over the last 10 years 75
created place itself. Bring all of these elements together also created a place. There is a culture of place in my opinion in that, and the regional identity. Mostly using again, in response to the landscape, and in response to the materiality that actually I could actually go there and say I can see the rationalist sensibility in that. And I can say that that building belongs to that place. I think I can make that judgement. That’s why I’m saying I believe it makes a good sense of place. JM : Architects have the ability to create place, but do you believe architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion? GD : Yes. Defiantly. I mean, you have found this within people like Peter Zumthor and others. Defiantly architecture can manipulate human emotion, in fact I would argue that if it doesn’t then its not architecture. I think that must be the difference between a building and architecture, it must manipulate human emotion it could remind you of the past memories, it could take you places, its up to you and your experiences but it doesn’t matter how and where its manipulated, as long as its manipulated and that is the difference between architectural design and a construction. But remember its always going to be romantic when we put buildings in the landscape as actually landscape become the driver in there. I would argue that actually you could, and many architects could be quite successful if they gave a little bit of thought on how to put their building into the landscape, because they have if you like, the regionalist or the framework, a painting to start from. All they need to do is draw it and fit it in. so yes it is possible to do good architecture with the landscape. Although maybe more of a challenging task as the landscape is most dominant. There is a romantic notion between the landscape and how architecture fits within it, it’s very much like a painting, and maybe that’s why it’s so beautiful. But having the ability to manipulate human emotion, I think that is not possible in every architect, only good architects can do this; the architects that care or love their work. Being able to both create good sense of place through architecture within an environment and consider human emotion throughout a building is very difficult. And not many succeed. JM : In your opinion, is creating a strong sense of place a crucial factor within successful architectural design? GD : Absolutely because I’m just going to back what I said, if the architecture is a physical manifestation of culture and identity, right? Then that’s what you will be doing, a strong sense of place, which means your part of the culture and identity you’re contributing to the sense of place. Otherwise architectural design is no longer architectural design but a construction. So, is it therefore crucial? Yes 100% for a successful design. That is why we don’t see many, because it’s difficult. And there are many architects that haven’t delivered that. I don’t know what the answer is, I suppose there are so many concerns such as cost building regulations, warrant, client and all that and we seem to be lost 76
within all these constraints rather than understanding what the strong sense of place is and how it could be created. So I’m sorry to say but our architectural profession really hasn’t delivered that. And I think that would have made us stronger and a preferred designer and I think that whys 90% of the housing schemes or housing designed by volumes buildings, developers or others, as we haven’t really been able to create that strong sense of place and community. I think this is where architecture has gone wrong. We either did our own thing, selfishly and try to fit already comprises ideas into landscapes or sites, or we just fail to understand the regionalist approach and familiarity and peoples understanding and also architecture is part of identity and culture. We see architecture as sometimes ether an individual creation of an art rather than it belonging to a place. That’s what I think!
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JM : How would you describe place or sense of place? NG: This is obviously a difficult question isn’t it; it’s a loaded question sense of place. I mean I suppose it’s about the particularity of that place I think that you recognise or sense something about it that makes it unique to itself. So trying to describe that is probably impossible, but you kind of know it when you experience it, it that makes sense. But I think it’s a very complicated thing, I think it changes. It changes obviously with the seasons, it changes with light, and it changes with your experience with that space. Say for example you had a really bad experience in a particular place, that would colour your sense of that place so if you have, I don’t know, lets say you went on a holiday to the west coast of Scotland as a kid and it happened to be a particularly midges free season that year, you would have a great sense of it and then later on you go with your family and then there’s midges everyway it would be an absolute nightmare, your kids would have a dread would they? So I’m not sure if it’s a fixable thing if it’s something that can be fixed. I don’t know if that answers your question. JM : What are your opinions on the current standard of architectural designs within rural landscapes with regards to creating a good sense of place? NG: You mean in Scotland? It’s better than it was. I mean there are some really good architects dealing with what I would call the everyday. I mean I think the standard of architectural design, I think that depends on what you mean by that? If you think of, what’s the French word? Le quotidian, meaning the daily? You know your daily piece of architecture, a house for example. What standard of architectural design does a house have to inspire to? First of all, your not really going to sweep or go into a trance when you saw a decent house, you might if you saw an amazing church, or a grave or something like that, something with that kind of notion. In terms of architectural design within the rural landscape, were probably talking about housing. I think at any time there is some very good stuff, and there is some pretty awful stuff, and it’s all to do with care, but the majority of stuff is awful, because I don’t think it is designed. Its just acquired or, you know its not been thought about very carefully. The stuff that is thought about, if you think about Dualchas, or Rural Design or Gokay, any of these guys. I think it’s not bad. I 78
don’t think its bad. But I don’t think it’s a hugely ambitions architectural level to hit, its just decent, appropriate work. I think it probably is improving and that there are lots of guys out there that have sort of set the standard for any architect designed work but the majority of the work isn’t architects designs. JM : What do you believe to be the main factors that contribute when creating a good sense of place? NG: Taking your time. And I think that’s the one thing that were not giving anymore because time equals’ money, so its your fee. So people want something cheap. We live in a throw away society and your services… if I’m being honest, I’m not going to get too depressing but architects services in Scotland are pretty irrelevant really. Anybody who’s looking for an architect, they’re either an enlightened character, right? So they’re either got money or they’ve got ambition or they’ve got both. And your pretty lucky if you get a client that’s got both of those things. Better to have a client whose ambition than probably one that’s got money, somebody that wants you to try and create something. But to do something it takes time. And that’s what most people are not prepared for; they’re not prepared to wait. So you end up doing a lot of work for free in your evening, at the weekends, but that’s what your trained for, your trained to do that aren’t you in college? Your trained to work late and everything, that’s preparing you for life outside when you wont get paid for the hours that you work. But I’m not quite sure how to answer other than that. I think when your creating a good sense of place you really need to understand where your building, why your building, who your building it for and to do that you cant really do that quickly. So for me the main factor would be to give yourself time. The other thing is that, I’m sure you are the same, because any designer is, that the first thing you think about, often, is a pretty good indication of where your going to go. But then you have to go through this whole loop of thinking that it cant be that, you have to look at alternatives and we ask you to look at precedents and have you tried it stacked up. And you go through this kind of, slight, I wouldn’t say it’s a charade, but it’s a process of thinking round the subject, and you might come back to a place that you were pretty close to when you first started. But then you’re pretty confident that that’s the right thing to do, when you feel it’s the right thing to do. I have this wee diagram that I draw clients, this doesn’t work on the tape, but if you go from there to there, they phone you up and they get really really excited and you go up, you go off on this big journey, and then there’s a point where you get the first cost back and you have to start again. So you go on a journey that has taken you from there to there. And all you do in design is you do a series of these. And hopefully you’re pretty close to a solution when you get to the end. But if you take the piece of string, the journey that you’ve been on you has actually been there; you’ve been to the end three or four times. Does that make sense? I mean each time there are issues that make you go backwards, if make you feel as if your going backwards. Its over budget, they discover a water main crossing the site, the supplier goes bust and the client divorced his wife. You know there all these sorts of 79
things that are going to happen to you as you go through. The contractors horrendous. So there are always things that can get in the way of you doing it. But I think if your patient and that you really think about what you’re doing, I think you’ll be closer to a sense of place. I don’t think its anything to do with al the roofs around here are pitched slate, therefore if I do a pitched slate building it will have a good sense of place, it might have. But it’s about really understanding about what made that community live the way that they do. JM : When approaching a project, how do you address contributing to and enhancing a given environment? NG: Well I suppose that’s really to do with your attitude to where you sit in the, it sounds a bit heavy, in the continuity. You know if you see yourself at the end of the story why do you need to think about a given environment at all. If you see yourself as part as that on going you just here and you’ll do your own thing and then you’ll leave this mortal world and someone else will come in and do their thing. If everyone’s thinking about there place then everyone taken an aspect of everyone around about him or her. In a way its just like being a member of your year, or being a member of the team, or being a member of a society, your aware of other peoples feelings and that’s kind of the difference when you start to grow up. When your in your teens, just coming into your early twenties, you don’t give a shit about anybody really apart form yourself. Do you? Because your too busy trying to work out yourself. Then when you get slightly older then you’re suddenly aware that when you stay out till 4 o’clock in the morning and your dads pacing the floor and a bit worried about you. Then you suddenly go, maybe I should have phoned. But there is a moment in time when your aware of that, and I think as architects, you’re either in a camp that really doesn’t care, as you’ve been commissioned to create something that puts the client on the map. I was reading, an Allan Cahoon thing this morning that said something like form equals finance you know there’s a kind of in capital society that has kind of been hijacked but big business men and finance. You make a gherkin shape building or a cheese grater shaped building or a microphone shape building because it maps that. Well that might be part of your brief. So your going to have a stance, so from your question, you obviously think this is important? So you might already agree that this might be a worthwhile thing to do. Someone else might have another set of questions, which have got nothing to do with context or a given environment or anything to do with that. See what I mean? So you’re already in that camp aren’t you? And I’m kind of in that camp as well, so we can agree with each other. So if we had someone like Eli attia who would say architecture is a plunge, you have an idea about things and that’s the important thing, and it sits on its own. But he comes from a rural environment where Swiss buildings do sit on there on, you know, there not connected? I don’t even know what I’m talking about now. So I think inevitably I’m a kind of, I don’t know, old modernist that was taught that architecture could improve a situation for somebody even if its just a bathroom extension. You can make having 80
a bath a better experience than having any old bath. The notion of enhancing a given environment would always be a partial way of thinking about it. So enhancing a given environment for whom, for your client or for his neighbour? You would have to say, well if I do that will that affect the house next door? Can I still maintain its daylight and I can’t build there, I have to build over there. So I think that these are all just issues, there’s not just one thing, its really just going about it in kind of an intelligent, modest accountable kind of way so that your responsible for your own work and how it sits within a situation. But I don’t know, maybe that turns you into a really dull person, does it? I don’t know. JM : In your opinion, is architecture within the rural landscape responding the way it should? NG: Well the answers going to be yes and no. It best stuff does and the worse stuff doesn’t. But in a funny kind of way, I think its about, you know were not going to change any culture I don’t think, you know architects. We can only work with the culture we’ve got. So if you look at a rural situation, you’ve got the old black house, and then somebody would have built the little Victorian house. You know the standard house in the glen with the two dormer windows, the front door and the two chimneys. Well they were pattern book houses. They actually don’t make as much environmental sense as the old black houses did, where the fire was in the middle, where as the other has the fire at the sides with big drafty windows in the middle, they’re quite cold houses. But that was a political event, but anyway I wont go into that, that was about the clearances and everything. And then, so what you get in a old farm settlement, is you get the old Victorian house that is falling in disrepair and a couple will be in there, and then the young couple are going to take over the farm with a kit bungalow, a timber framed bungalow. And they build them right next to each other and they let the old one just fall apart as you cant sell, as its on their land. So what you get when you go around Scotland is you get these layers of new buildings. And I think tis just people are really programmatic, you know that guy complains how cold his house is, and then they just build a new one, a kit house. Its dead easy they’re mate can do it. And its people like Dualchas that start saying well maybe you can do a slightly different one? But what I’m interested in is if any of the clients are still working as farmers or are they light retired architects that have retired to Skye to get Dualchas to do a little house for me. Are they holiday houses? A lot of them are for rent. I don’t know, you could be looking at those houses and haying that the future, these are the guys, Dualchas and rural design. It would be really interesting to know whose houses these are for. I would suspect the majority are for people that are retiring to the west coast or Skye and they’re not people who live in these areas or have lived there all their lives. They’ve still got a mate on the road that can get them a kit house. And they’ll just built it next to they’re old farmhouse. What I’m trying to say is, was that response wrong? In your opinion is architecture in the rural landscape responding the way it should? Obviously I like Dualchas, I’m just using Dualchas as an example as its clean, nice little form, good space, good materials. 81
And they feel fresh. But are they making any in roads to changing an attitude that is I can just built a house that’s got a little window, horribly proportioned windows. Does that person driving his tractor and go, he’s missed a trick their look at the window to wall rational, solid to void, pitch of the roof. He’s just gone back to his low-pitched concrete titles bungalow with the big stone feature fireplace, huge telly. He’s happy. So, is he wrong? I don’t think he is. Do you know what I mean? The worrying thing about architects is we become irrelevant, because people think were just being elitist. Do you understand what I mean? So they’re not going to employ you as an architect, they’ll just get the kit house guy to do it. I don’t need to speak to an architect, why would I do that? So all I’m saying is that I’m not quite sure what it’s responding to in your question. So I think the answer is probably no. Cause I don’t think it really is… architecture is something that is well put together, beautifully proportioned, it’s about light, sitting in the landscape respectably and elegantly. I’m not sure that popular culture can actually see the difference between what we would consider a good house and what they think is a house. Cause I think they’re doing things like counting bedrooms, and bathrooms. And it’s a huge kitchen. You ask is it a nice kitchen? And they say it’s huge. You can get a tiny beautiful kitchen but they would rather have a huge one. You know they measure it in a different way, that’s what I’m trying to say. I think probably, the architectural profession still finds it difficult to engage with the rural landscape, but I mean the rural landscape of people, does that make sense? I think that good architects do, but I think they’re just scratching the surface, I think the big volume house builders are working in the rural landscapes, building all over Aberdeenshire. Do they care? I don’t know, it’s along as they sell. JM : Can you give an example of a project you believe to create a good sense of place? NG: One of our own? Right, well we have very few what you would term as rural projects in that sense. The two, which would fit, would be the PR Centre and Weavers Cottage in the borders that were for an artist. But what’s kind of interesting about that one is were going back to another little extension to it, its tiny but I was interested in the notion that you were actually there at all. The extension didn’t registry as apiece of building, it was more of a piece of a landscape and I don’t mean grass covered roof. I mean it was something more elemental, so our idea was as almost as the old building, the bothy had cast a shadow on a hill and I suppose that was the one we most enjoyed. But they’re now asking us to look at it as they’re getting elderly. But they like being out in the landscape, but it gets too cold, so were now going to design a little glass house that’s going to be a piece of Mies van der Rohe stuck on this thing. I’m really looking forward to that, it’s almost like the opposite, and it’s like a piece of light rather than a piece of shadow. In term of good sense of place, the sense of place is the way in which I read it as a lonely place. The idea of the building being lonely, as it is lonely. Design a lonely extension, it does fall in line with the hill and all that kind of stuff, but I felt the sense of the place felt really lonely. And kind of sad, that’s what I took the sense of place to be, if that makes sense. 82
JM : Architects have the ability to create place, but do you believe architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion? NG: What make people happy or sad? Yeah of course, absolutely. I mean I think that’s what architecture has the ability to do. I mean I was in Copenhagen, two weeks ago and I went to see Sigurd Lewerentz in Malmo, did you go see that? I went to see the cemetery, which was kind of an odd place. There was no doubt that the buildings are sort of awkward. That think about taking time and feeling unsure about yourself, they have that sense, and because of that. They talk about how he is the master of the spiritual, the sacred architect and he confronts death by making it seen. Other architects would try and make the process of going into a crematorium lighter, or make you feel better, make you feel lifted or something you know? He does the opposite, he makes you confront that there is a defiantly atmosphere of death. The seating is around the coffin, and the materially and the way the light comes in there is just no escaping that you are actually there. But the one I was going to talk about was his theatre; well the guy must be absolutely manic-depressive as there are all these photos of him in a blackened room with a bottle of whiskey way into the night. I mean I think he did suffer from depression but I mean you then go to this theatre and not so much from the outside, but when you go on the inside there these beautiful marble staircases that go up form the foyer symmetrically to the restaurant and the bars and then through into the theatre and they are just so uplifting. You would know you were at a theatre, so he was capable of being very melancholic, but then in the next breathe you just wanted to go have a glass of fizz and laugh. So yes, is that the right answer? Yes absolutely cause I think just by light shade compression, yes of course. JM : In your opinion, is creating a strong sense of place a crucial factor within successful architectural design? NG: Yes and no. I mean I think there are buildings, if we stick with Lewerentz there is no doubt that you would know that you are in the north of the world. There a sensibility that probably couldn’t be made by someone from, I don’t know, another culture or somewhere else. And I think probably as northerners we can kind of understand the vibes so we can kind of get in there, as were probably pretty similar sort of manic depressives and drink is just within an arms reach of us. But on the other hand they’re as some architectures that have nothing to do with that place. I’m thinking about something incredibly light or referral possibly. You know you imagine that thing being somewhere else. I say that as I was at a lecture but Shuhei Endo, the Japanese guy and he does these corrugated iron structures and I asked him if he considered himself to be traditional architecture as although the form looked incredibly contemporary and different, he’s got this sensibility that was just very Japanese. And he said yes, it was about connected spaces, this room here is separate from the room next door and what he was interested in was an architecture that just flows through in-between it. It could 83
be that there is an architectural design that really sits lightly on a place. So, the standard answer would be to say yes, that’s it is critical for successful design but there is other architectural design which might not rely on that because what your trying to do is not provoke a person, does that make sense? You might be trying to be more elemental about an area such a light and you don’t want it to look and feel it as… you know if you were doing a pavilion down on the grass outside you might not want it to feel as if it just belonged there, does that make sense? Like mist of something, it comes in a goes away. There might be a commission where you’re asked to do that. I mean there could be a question being, could architecture create a sense of place i.e. if you look at the west coast with Eilean Donan with it castle and its bridge, if you took them away have you removed the sense of place? In other words the architecture is the sense of place. Does that make sense? I don’t know… yes is the answer. But I think its more complicated than that because I think you may actually set out not to create a sense of that place. You might want to create a sense of another place.
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JM : How would you describe place or sense of place? NS: Well, this is a really important issue this. And it’s really at the centre of what good architecture is about in my view. And it’s something that hasn’t been giving enough attention. I mean, I can only really talk about the context of the work that were involved in, which tends to be rural based, it tends to be responding to places. I think the most successful this we do are when we successfully understand places. And then make changes, in terms of introducing structures, buildings… changes in a way that makes places better than they were before. I think there’s an aspect to our work that I think is consistent, what you might call environmental restoration. I think it works on very direct level, which is about this intervention with places to improve them. Then there is a bigger context that is about responding to some microenvironment in a way with the work that we do and the chosen we make with the things that we do that will hopefully improve the general environment in Scotland, and in a wider sense. So, if I think there is a criticism of contemporary architecture it’s that it doesn’t put enough emphasis on place. And what I mean by that is that there is too much emphasis on the building as an abstract specific thing and you can see the way people work they are always looking at a structure rather than the context or the bigger picture. And this is pretty important because the way people perceive buildings is not the way there thought about in an abstract entity on a piece of paper or a computer screen. People feel things and they don’t see things in the same way. JM : What are your opinions on the current standard of architectural designs within rural landscapes with regards to creating a good sense of place? NS: Well I think most responses in rural places are one of imposition. We don’t take efficient understanding, you could call it site analysis or reading places. Generally there is a poor understanding of the reading of places. So, most sites have both opportunities and constraints and I think its absolutely critical that we spend the time and spend enough of our thought processes and energy on understanding the unique qualities of places before we actually respond to them. I think if there’s one thing we could do to improve the quality of what’s being done in rural Scotland in terms of if, well, if we take 86
housing for example, its to spend a bit more time understanding the context in which were working. And then you discover for instance if you understanding the basic aspects that make a different are for example where the solar issues or where the slope, the shelter and where the winds coming from and these sorts of things. And if you fully understand that, I mean there’s a whole range of things that you have to understand that are both positive and negative issues. And when you fully understand and if you take the needs of our customer in terms of what their particular way of responding in terms of they’re living, there intentions for living in a place, the solution normally presents itself. So there’s not usually much of a problem really. I suspect what’s happening with a lot of contemporary work is that people are basically coming up with a solution which could fit in varies places, its not very specific for a particular site. So people go in with preconceptions of a solution and then they tailor it to the site in some way. I think it takes a lot of courage and a lot creativity to actually not go to a site with a preformed idea. And I think the project that you outlined, the one that you’re looking at from us is a good example of that idea of going to the site with no concept of what we are going to do, you know the Di Rollo House. And what we ended up doing with that one was it’s a kind, its quiet a steep slope actually. So we ended up cutting into the slope three times, then we basically put a roof over like that, which echoed the same slope as the actual ground conditions. So that’s the sketch you know. It’s unbelievably simple really. That was something we had never thought of before until we arrived on that site and then it became kind of obvious of what to do really. But it was a result of an understanding of what were trying to do and also that deep appreciation of the qualities of the site. JM : What do you believe to be the main factors that contribute when creating a good sense of place? NS: It’s just this idea of working with places rather than against them. A lot of the time in Scotland, what were dealing with is places that aren’t in a very positive condition so were doing this restoration, were actually going in to look after places, be sympathetic to them, and actually try and repair them, try and make them better. So, depending on where you’re working, it could be a complex psychology, woodland site, coastal site, these are nearly examples of opposites. You’ve got to have a different response to these places. I suppose it’s the other kind of key thing, its all very well saying these things that we respond in a ecological or careful manner to the nature of places, but you’ve got to know something about ecology to do that, you cant just go in, you’re got to do some studying to what’s its all about really. So yeah, that’s taken some time to develop, in terms of having an understanding of places as you can read places. As I was talking about earlier, reading places is about an understanding of an environment by interpreting for example, the vegetation on the site. You can actually read whether the site is in good condition, in terms of its soil or whether it’s wet or dry or the amount of 87
exposure and all these kinds of things. There’s actually quite a lot to take in when you go onto a site, and very often sites have previous interventions as well. It makes a lot of sense to try and be respective of these somehow, for example you might have a wall or some kind of modification that’s happened in the past, and were doing is were putting layers of input into a place again. I like to think what were doing is were seeing ourselves as contributing another layer of human experience on a place rather than going in a hard and meaningless way, to pose on site. So yeah, I think these things are important. JM : When approaching a project, how do you address contributing to and enhancing a given environment? NS: Well for example, you know the site we were working on down in Montrose for Lynda? That one has specific qualities, it’s a walled garden, it’s a sheltered site and it’s on a slope. So it’s a simple thing really, we orientated the building in such a way that it made good use of how the sun worked round the site, but also we positioned it up in the corner so that it has most of the site in front of it and we intentionally organised the spaces within and externally. There’s another really important thing, what tends to happen with design these days, particularly at the edge of buildings and how they relate to car for example, it tends to be given to much space in my view. What we need to do is make things exactly the size they need to be. So in that project it’s quite a tight arrangement, there’s a courtyards that accepts the cars and peoples movements. I think if you look at the best examples of place from a historical point of view, very often these aspects are actually quite tight and modest, so they aren’t given too much space. I think again if there were one thing we can do it would be to change the success of places is to just make things the right size. It’s actually an easy thing to say, but maybe not as easy to actually do it. But for instance I think there’s was a bit of concern with that particular project that we hadn’t given enough space for that but as the project actually evolved and developed, and now being completed the balance is just right. And I think that just comes with experience, it comes I suppose with intentionally organising the site in such a way that it does various things… wait, what was the question again? Yeah, well I suppose there’s always that intention that were going to contribute, and that were going to make something, and improve it in some kind of way, which is normally the case. I’m not sure if I’ve answered that one or not. JM : In your opinion, is architecture within the rural landscape responding the way it should? NS: Not necessarily. I think there’s a tendency in… well there’s some really good things that have happened in Scotland, I think there’s some very good people working in the highlands and islands in particularly and what they’re doing is there are working in a positive manner to try and respond… I’m talking about housing I suppose and how we 88
respond to rural sites. I think things go wrong when people are trying to emulate, well there’s several things that go wrong, some of it’s a result and consequence of being stuck with, say a particular forms of buildings that are being used in say suburban situations and because there’s a limit to what the actually deliver side of buildings, the options open to architects in terms of how contractors respond to what they do, you end up with compromises. One thing that you see a lot is quite large suburban type housing finding its way into rural sites. So you get with a very wide gable and once you get the gable to over 7 or 8 meters the building gets very high. That might look okay in a suburban situation but as soon as you get out into the rural, particular if the site is a small settlement, certainly the scale of everything and the proportion will change, you have to be careful and considerate to that kind of thing. We’ve done quite a number of houses were we’ve consciously been very modest of the physical size, which restricts the physical size of the project. I suppose as a general approach were not trying to dominant sites, were trying to oppose an abstract creative solution, what were trying to do is work in a more modest and careful manner. That’s probably the different between what we do. JM : Can you give an example of a project you believe to create a good sense of place? NS: Oh right, well hopefully most of our projects do that. But you see, there is an aspect of time; you’ve actually got to give projects a bit of time to improve. Partly what we’re trying to do is… we’ve got his idea what with the right intervention sites and places actually improve and mature over time. So that’s the case of having the faith that it’s going to take 5 or 10 years for things to kind of embed themselves into a site. I mean there is a problem that we all face at the moment that for instance that whole idea about landscape is seen as a separate discipline from architects that deal with the structures. I think that there is a real opportunity to try and merge these two areas in the future. So we’ve got to think about the spaces, the places surrounding buildings. You know how we arrive and how we enjoy places and buildings. I mean there’s a particular issue around that with, this is something that happens to us all the time, very often, we’re having to build relatively small buildings because of number of reasons, with budgetary reasons. And its quite often were building relatively small buildings but because they relate very positively to outside spaces that are defined like gardens and courtyards and either existing spaces or ones that we develop. Were quite successful in building quite modest housing. And if you can directly relate spaces to outside spaces in positive ways then you can actually increase that whole experience for people. I mean it’s really critical. I mean the way we use buildings these days is completely different to the way we used to 100 years ago or 200 year ago. I think we need to mindfully remember that. People spend most of their time inside but when they want to get out they do. If you have defined spaces, I mean spaces around building are just as important as spaces inside buildings and architects should treat them in the same way. Its not actually different although most people aren’t confident enough to do that, but I think the best way to 89
actually understand that is to be critical about the places we experience both historically and new spaces. And just try and figure out how they work. And getting back to the original kind of premise, place is a matter of emotional response. You know, people feel it. If you think of the kind of 99.99% of people who aren’t designers or architects, they don’t necessarily understand how places are working and why they aren’t. If they feel positively about a place, they don’t actually understand why that’s working. It has to be said, it really actually is our job to understand why things work and why they don’t. So that’s quite an important thing to understand. I think a good response, a good designer designs just about intentions is to understand what the customer is trying to do. So each customer or users is going to want a different thing. So that why you have to kind of interrogate customers, I mean you’ve got to try and figure out how they are likely to use places, and then try and response to them. The greatest thing that can happen is when the customer says well how did you know that I wanted such and such. And well its because they give you clues about that and you have to intuitively understand how to response to those things really. JM : Architects have the ability to create place, but do you believe architectural design has the ability to manipulate human emotion? NS: I think it’s important to recognise that manipulating, affecting, or altering human emotion is at the heart of what we do really. And I think that we can manipulate, the word manipulate suggests a negative aspect to that when in actually fact, I cant think of a better thing to do than to actually for example make people feel positive or healthy or joyful about the places we produce for them in that sense. What I mean by produce for them, its not just that designs intention it’s the whole delivery. I mean at the end of the day the places that we make symbolise how we relate to the world and what we think is important within this world. So if were seriously about living in beautiful healthy joyful places then all these things are perceived emotionally, they not necessarily intellectually perceived. They can be but I think there’s a different level of emotional understanding or intellectual understanding. There’s just a gut feelings and I think it’s important in our work that there should be layers of depth and meaning. So depending on someone’s level of understanding of perception. What I mean by that is, for example how you perceive the use of local materials on a simple level of experience. It makes sense economically sense to use or whatever but there are other levels of understanding. There are stories behind using local timber you can also understand that as a relation to say the skill levels of people. How people put meaning into they’re work. There’s various levels and understanding of meaning, both negative and positive. So yeah, we definitely influence or manipulate that emotional response, and that needs to be acknowledges and taken seriously I suppose.
JM : In your opinion, is creating a strong sense of place a crucial factor within successful architectural design? NS: Yeah, yeah I think it is. I think it’s a critical aspect of what architectural design is really. I think at the end of the day what we do is we, if were good, what we do is we take the needs and the ambitions and the kind of intention of people and we give it some kind of organisation, we give it some form and physical direction. Its interesting as you can read, I actually think its quite useful, we forget a lot of the time that were not working in an abstract manner for everyone, were working and responding in a specific way to both a customer and the places that were working. And these things, I think there quite sophisticated things really, and that is where our experience should lie as architects. When I think about that, its like, its actually quite interesting for me to think about it… what we’re doing with good architecture is we’re fitting together emotional responses to, in our case… its easier for me to think about houses, that tends to be what were working on. What is it were trying to do? You know, we’ve got to ask ourselves these simple questions all the time, like what kind of spaces what kind of feeling and what kind of mood are we trying to bring out. Its actually quite interesting as were starting to work on slightly bigger projects now so, multiple houses and again that’s a interesting thing. You take a field and put 30 houses in it, the first thing I think about is how I want that to be in the longer term, I’m not thinking about the small aspects, I’m thinking what is the overall kind of feeling? What is the characteristic of that place going to be? How do we want it to feel? And that’s like on a big level, as we move past the place we almost have a passing relationship with it. How do we want people to response to it and how do we want to response to it? So at a very specific level, an intimate level, and on an emotional level, how do we want that to happen? And it seems to me that that is the core of what architecture really is, and it’s not actually about that building as a separate thing. So the building is part of it but it’s the overall perception that becomes the critical aspect. The joy for me recently, being in japan that was really quite interesting, what I realised there, well one of the most profound things was understanding that a lot of the contemporary work that architects have been doing in the last 150 years in Europe that has been influenced by a Japanese understanding of place. The interesting thing about that, or the fundamental thing is that they are less concerned about the formal composition of buildings as such as we tend to be and they’re far more interested in the relationship of elements and spaces. Its only when you go there you realise how important that is. The contrast if you like, is the classical way of looking at buildings where everything’s about the composition of this object and then its like, that European tendency continues on. And I think that’s where a lot of these problems come from. And again this is the critical thing, what we’ve got to see buildings as is the means to people enjoying their place in the world and if you put well thought out buildings in terms how they relate to the bigger environment and how they make a contribution to that and if you make people comfortable with the house and it represents they’re values and purpose and then you get this incredible kind of harmony. And I think what architecture has been in the West has been something that has intentionally dominants situations, it symbolises wealth, 91
power and manipulation. And what we need to get to is an architecture where people feel comfortable at home with things, rather than a statue thing. And the reason why I mention the Japanese is because I think they’ve solved that riddle, particularly the relation between buildings and gardens. That very simple and modest relationship they have is incredibly joyful and you can only do that when you’re not trying to dominate something. Architecture for some people, it becomes an expression of a technical solution. There’s always a technical aspect to architecture, and a good analogy would be computers. You know the Steve Jobs approach to computers would be that they’re engineered. They work technically well or whatever. They do a job. Like a house does a job. But you know the apple approach is that its something that is joyful, its actually fun to use it. It has a deeper level of relationship, and that’s one of the reasons that that particular company has been so successful because it’s responding to people and it’s responding to the way people want to experience, in this case a computer. Which is an emotional response, and if architecture had some of those qualities that I feel our work is trying to do then I think we could have real movement. We could have a revolution of how our buildings are put together as they could express peoples lives, they’re intentions instead of just being an investment or whatever. Houses clearly need to respond to people inner emotional needs and when they do that they are successful. And there lies the challenge. It’s not an easy one. There you go you’re really confused now.
SE N S E O F P L AC E The role of an architect when constituting place