Common sense architecture
A vast majority of what we build today can actually be done more appropriately and reversibly with natural materials.
Much before the carbon footprint calculations began, much before the sustainability talks began, and much before the importance of green sense was realised, people built shelters for themselves and for their storage needs.
Architects claiming creativity were absent, engineers capable of building anything were not yet born, and the seemingly permanent construction materials were not yet manufactured. Architecture of that past was local, reversible and of common sense.
Today, with our modes of construction becoming increasingly irreversible, our generation will leave the Earth with such a burden of built forms, river dams, national highways, irrigation canals, marine structures and what not.
The junk we leave behind will become the responsibility of our children’s children for reuse, recycling or safe disposal. Even at today’s rate of production, we are not able meet such challenges; if so, how can we expect the future generation to solve the problems when the production would have increased manifold?
This is not to suggest that everything we build should be simple, local and reversible. With our civilization having advanced far beyond what it was even a century ago, certain kind of buildings with advanced technology using manufactured materials of high embodied energy could be inevitable. However, even the monumental structure can have elements of common sense, which can keep the building appropriate and justifiable. As such, a vast majority of what we build today can actually be done more appropriately and reversibly with natural materials.
The architecture of common sense like a simple bamboo roofed shed can exhibit so many eco-friendly characteristics, which even a highly rated modern green building may not. Most of the common sense architecture happens without architects and engineers, who tend to overload the building with their professional experiences and expectations, where finally the architecture may never appear natural at all. This is not to demean architects or discount the role of engineers, but to suggest that non-professional people can also create highly creative works of constructions with the help of local skilled team.
After all, what should a building have? Foundation, floor, walls, doors, windows, pillars and roof. These basic few components can create millions of buildings, no two resembling each other.
There need be no dearth of ideas, aesthetical appeals, functional plans, constructional systems or building services. The criteria of eco is not a rule of restriction, but a guide to design, which can create modern buildings as natural and appealing as a bamboo roof in a village.
To that end, what we need today is design sensibility and eco sensitivity, which anyone may exhibit. The fact that buildings need to have lower embodied energy and be contextual goes undebated. If the designs are sustainable and replicable, that goes a long way in saving future energy.
All possible stylistic variations, any iconic design or fantasy explorations should be acceptable, as long as they do not hurt nature today and can return to nature one day.