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How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Builtby Stewart Brand
Synopses & Reviews
Buildings have often been studied whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. Architects (and architectural historians) are interested only in a building's original intentions. Most are dismayed by what happens later, when a building develops its own life, responsive to the life within.
To get the rest of the story — to explore the years between the dazzle of a new building and its eventual corpse — Stewart Brand went to facilities managers and real estate professionals, to preservationists and building historians, to photo archives and to futurists. He inquired, "What makes some buildings come to be loved?" He found that all buildings are forced to adapt, but only some adapt gracefully.
How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis which proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time. A rich resource and point of departure, as stimulating for the general reader and home improvement hobbyist as for the building professional, the book is sure to generate ideas, provoke debate, and shake up habitual thinking.
From the connected farmhouses of New England to I. M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth — this is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory. More than any other human artifact, buildings improve with time — if they're allowed. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it.
"This informative, innovative handbook sets forth a strategy for constructing adaptive buildings that incorporates a conservationist approach to design, use of traditional materials, attention to local vernacular styles and budgeting to allow for continuous adjustment and maintenance." Publishers Weekly
"Brand's self-reliant voice rings true — that of an engaging, intellectual crank. Brand makes a case for letting people shape their own environments. His crunchy-granola insights bristle with an undeniable pragmatism." Kirkus Reviews
Buildings have often been studies whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis that proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time.
From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth—this is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory.
More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with time—if they're allowed to. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it.
Like people, buildings change with age, forced to adapt to the needs of current occupations. This provocative examination of buildings that have adapted well, and some that haven't, calls for a dramatic rethinking in the way new buildings are designed, one that allows structures to grow and change easily with the environment. Photos.
About the Author
Though honored as a writer—with the National Book Award for the Whole Earth Catalog, Eliot Montroll Award for The Media Lab, Golden Gadfly Award for his years as editor of CoEvolution Quarterly—Steward Brand is primarily an inventor/designer. Trained as a biologist and army officer, he was an early multimedia artist. He has created a number of lasting institutions, including New Games Tournaments, the Hackers Conference, and The WELL, a bellwether computer conference system. He is co-founder of Global Business Network, a futurist research organization fostering "the art of the long view."
Table of Contents
2. Shearing Layers
3. "Nobody Cares What You Do In There": The Low Road
4. Houseproud: The High Road
5. Magazine Architecture: No Road
6. Unreal Estate
7. Preservation: A Quiet, Populist, Conservative, Victorious Revolution
8. The Romance of Maintenance
9. Vernacular: How Buildings Learn from Each Other
10. Function Melts Form: Satisficing Home and Office
11. The Scenario-buffered Building
12. Built for Change
APPENDIX: The Study of Buildings in Time
Recommended Bibliography: Books for Time-kindly Buildings
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