To Build Or Not To Build: Examples Of How The Urban Environment

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To Build or Not to Build: Examples of how the Urban Environment gets chosen

While, in his article Building Landscapes, Lebbeus Woods looks at the idea of reconciling nature with architecture, he also says that 'in our contemporary urban world, with its aggregates of buildings that become … artificial landscapes and contexts – entirely displacing the natural – the architect 's role would seem to inevitably expand beyond designing built single objects. ' Creating this artificial environment has impacts in smaller and larger scales. It might >simply< change the living environment of the few, have social repercussions, or create urban microclimates.

This essay will explore some approaches to choosing the environment, by briefly looking at
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When disputes arose, or one group became too dogmatic and fixated, Kroll re-organised the teams so that each one became familiar with the other’s problems. Not until a possible solution was in sight did he draw up the plans to make it workable. The resultant buildings show a complexity and richness of meaning, a delicate pluralism that reflects the codes of the inhabitants and builders (the contractors were actually encouraged to participate as well, hence such things as the undulating stone walls).’

1 Facade of the Louvain University building showing the personalised character

While the intentions behind this approach might be commendable, in reality, the question of sustainability and longevity become apparent. As was the case with the faculty buildings by Kroll, the individualisation, which made the project such a great success for the people involved, only lasted one generation – in this particular case only four years. Though a more extreme example, as the degree of participation was unusually high and the span of occupancy relatively low, it shows the potential problems with participatory design approaches.

Standardised Design Approaches
If individualisation is considered as a strategy for designing the environment, its counterpart needs to be examined too. As the opposite, standardised housing creates a uniform environment that eliminates the problem of fitting in. Pre-fab housing of the post WWII era, such as the Airey House
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