Reflection on 2A Continental Architectural Award for Asia and Europe 2017 visions,Nader Ardalan
The interview has been published in 2A Magazine issue #41
President Ardalan Associates, Architects Board of Directors, the Forum for Architecture, Culture & Spirituality
How can architects, Planners and landscape designers intervene to alleviate the human afflictions in the realm of the built environment?
Nader Ardalan: The theme of displacement is today one of the dominant human afflictions in the realm of the built environment that has drawn increasing attention in recent years from architects, historians, designers, urban planners, and artists seeking to meet the now growing range of challenges related to human settlements. These challenges especially include the tangible impacts of climate change, sea level rise, refugee communities, and the economic-political displacement of masses of peoples across Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, the Caribbean and Central America.In addition, they also include the more intangible and accompanying challenges of psychological and spiritual displacement. These crises have moved the theme of displacement and design mitigation strategies to address and alleviate these challenges to the center of education, research, and practice in a wide-ranging field of architectural design and urbanism and its related fields, including philosophy and theology.
Please follow this idea:Between the countries from different civilizations in the different continents(Asia and Europe in this case) , there has been a constant history of trade, migration and sharing of cultural practices, which has extended strongly, even in the field of architecture. I realized these countries have a deep and true connection with moral principles, which has affected all aspects of its society (Culture, Architecture, Art and their identity in general), their root and identity has influenced their architecture. I also understood that their traditional architecture has been naturally developed in a sustainable manner, I believe that the underlying cultural, historical and spiritual values has led to creation of this form of natural sustainability.”It is the differing uses of history, to create varied sets of architectural languages within our contemporary framework that is of interest. This is especially true in the context of globalization, which has a powerful tendency to homogenize.”- Hence, I would like to ask you as a member of the jury member of 2A Asia Architecture Award 2017, do you consider this thought when you design and practice?
As a first principle, I believe in the explorations of the values and timeless lessons of the different Regional and Cultural Architectural identities that have historically existed and adapted sustainably to their natural context. These perennial worldviews can continue to shape the natural, ‘spirit’ of future sustainable built environments to survive.As a second principle, I hold that globalization can make a beneficial contribution by its spread of technological innovations and design opportunities. However, their use must be thoughtful and appropriate to the context. Unfortunately, the products of globalization as commercial instruments are highly market driven that have resulted in what I call “in-between cultures” with non-sustainable built environments lacking deep moral value systems and characterless, displaced cultural identities.
In order to understand the contemporary architectural and urban landscapes in different continents, in your opinion, what are the emergent manifestations of the world in contemporary Architecture and Urbanism?
I can decipher two significant emergent themes in contemporary world architectural and planning thinking:“The future lies in the past”Projects that are small, modest, human scaled and following in the ‘footsteps of their grandfathers’ have gained an evolving role in design thinking. Projects that strive to reinforce existing spatial traditions, such as courtyards, and the use of local building solutions, such as earthen and wood construction that are following timeless sustainable and socially relevant design principles, but which still allow contemporary, affordable and innovative designs are gaining favor in low income regions of the world.“Low-tech is the future high-tech”There is a worldwide growing awareness and trend for healthy living, natural building materials and methodologies that result in low energy needs and usage, cost efficiency and recyclability. Most low-energy buildings do not require mechanical ventilation while providing comfortable indoor climatic conditions. As High energy buildings, due to cost and lack of energy availability are phased out, low energy buildings will become the future.
How important is context in Contemporary Architectural Design? As a professional, researcher and educator working in Asia/Europe, what are factors, criteria or even constrains that have influential impact on your profession?
The dictum: “Think Cosmically, Act Locally” was a useful way that Buckminster Fuller, the great thinker and inventor, defined the essential context of existence and approached this question. He assumed that humanity was designed to perform an important function in the Universe in two key movements: Movement 1. To be in resonance with the intention of cosmic evolution to transform humanity into an integrated, harmonious whole with the universe. Movement 2. To achieve the First by living evermore efficiently within the given cosmic-energy income of the earth, without wasting its capital resources, ninety nine percent of which comes from our sun.