Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Design Like You Give a Damn!

I listened to a great podcast of "To The Best of Our Knowledge" today that reinforced how I feel about good design.

"Design Like You Give a Damn" is the motto of Architecture for Humanity, but it needs to be in ALL of our heads.

I can't image why every single house and building built in the WORLD, and every neighborhood planned in the world doesn't keep the pattern and path of the sun in mind.

Mr. Probert and I are working with our Architect right now designing our passive solar house (designing and actually getting off our rear ends to build it are two different things) and I couldn't imaging "fighting" the natural progress of the sun... Why not arrange things so that the kitchen gets AM sun and the living room gets afternoon sun? It just seems normal.

We as Civil Engineers think that we don't have to think about such things- but keep in mind next time you use Civil 3D to design a neighborhood- did you orient the lots so that house's longest side can face South? Does the builder have different style homes to take advantage of different views and patterns of light? How many of us think of that???

It is time we started thinking of that! And Civil 3D gives us the flexibility to try more possibilities. (Throw in the new sunlight and rendering tools from AutoCAD 2007, and really figure out where the shadows will fall! But more on that another day)

If you'd like to check out the audio show, you can stream it at:
Episode 060226a

To The Best of Our Knowledgefrom Wisconsin Public Radio
Rebuilding's going on in New Orleans, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and other places devastated by natural disasters. But what kind of structures are going up? In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, green architects and designers talk about building for the future. Also, a look at the latest spiritual design craze - vastu, the ancient Hindu art of home design. Think of it as yoga for your house.

Here are some of my other favorite books/resources on this subject and similar:

James Wines: I saw him speak at the Alberta Association of Architect's Banff Session in 2001. He was amazing. He used an old school slide projector, no notes, no powerpoint to lean on or hide behind. Just 1 hour of constant interesting, entertaining and though provoking information about rethinking the way we design buildings, neighborhoods and life. I have Green Architecture and De-Architecture on my bookshelf right now, and I page through them often.

Manasc Isaac Architects: Vivian Manasc is an inspiration woman- an architect, an artist, a visionary, a teriffic business woman and an interesting speaker. I met her while working for a concrete masonry manufacturer (long story) in Edmonton. Her firm has done some amazing and award winning sustainable architecture work.

Sun Plans: Passive Solar isn't "weird" and it doesn't mean you have space age panels everywhere. It just means your windows are the right size and your house is thoughtfully in tune with your latitude. These are architectural plans inspired by the sun unlike any other "stock" plan. Use it as inspiration for your subdivisions and developments- how about an entire passive solar community?

Of course, no list of "Design for Purity, Function and Give a Damn" is complete without mention of Howard Roark: All of those Ayn Rand worshipers in college confused me. They saw some sort of political message, I saw the truth about what design should be like and why we become designers. The chain smokers in the student lounge with their black shirts and dark framed glasses didn't even realize the book was about architecture. Sheesh.

We'll talk more about this later.

Ok, so enough non-Civil 3D musings for the moment. In exhange for all of the free Civil 3D knowledge I pass on to you, all I ask in return is a few ramblings now and again.