Architecture should be seen as a collaboration between not only the architect and client, but also the environment and materials. This collaboration should ensure that the sustainability and longevity of the building are central to the design. For us, timeless design is all about context, it places the building and its design comfortably in the environment utilising the right materials and the right expression of the local surroundings.
In sticking to this principle, we work within design parameters which are not just sympathetic to the building itself but also the environment and the materials used. The sustainability of a building is therefore about balance.
So how do we at Archer + Braun achieve this?
1. IMPROVING AND MODERNISING FOR FUTURE USE
With Picture Frame House, undertaking the renovation and extension has ensured the buildings future by making it both fit for modern living and flexible enough to adapt to its users changing needs. The house was in a state of disrepair having been let out to students for over a decade, it was a damp and dark series of spaces with a cramped galley kitchen and no connection to the garden. The works to this house have resulted in a light filled home that is fulfilling the needs of a growing family. In addition, the spaces have been designed so that they are changeable as the family requirements evolve.
2. ENVIRONMENTALLY SYMPATHETIC MATERIALS
The Highlands have a very unforgiving climate and not many materials can stand the test of time in both design and in standing up to the elements. Torispardon, nestled in the central Highlands, uses reclaimed granite and whinstone from the original buildings. This is one of the key concepts of the circular economy, as reusing materials where possible (keeping them in use for perpetuity) as this is more sustainable than recycling.
The decision to use timber cladding was inspired by both the abundance of timber available locally and the fact that historic steadings within this landscape have often used a combination of timber and stone. The timber chosen for Torispardon was carefully sourced from sustainably managed forests, including the Scottish larch on the Steading that was felled within 50 miles of the property.
Both materials are durable and will gently weather further connecting the building to the landscape that is sits in.
3. COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATION
The most impactful context you can provide as an architect is the coming together of design, environment and community. Community projects such as the Stepney Community Garden and Cemetery Lodge bring multi-functional spaces to the forefront of local communities. These spaces can deliver on the longevity and flexibility needed from community inspired design.
We are also interested in using traditional building methods and working together with local craftsmen. At Torispardon, a local stonemasonry firm had 3 generations of family working on site at one time. Working in this way ensures that these skills and traditions do not get forgotten, whilst also connecting the buildings with the community that is physically located in.
When we look at what sustainable architecture is defined as (“Architecture that seeks to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space and the ecosystem at large” - Wikipedia) it is important to us that we build on this as a proposition.