Additive Architecture

Environmental Architecture

Considering the fields of Theatre, Economics, Environmental Sustainment, and Architecture, I’m beginning to feel that a more conservative approach to the Green movement is necessary.  There are plenty of locations where mega-mansions are being built, huge, new, Green houses that take a lot of money and time and labor, but will eventually pay for their own costs.  What I’d like to see more of is tweaking: taking existing spaces and making them more green without demolishing them.  In other words, using the resources that are in place and making them more efficient.  One could say I’m advocating ‘baby steps’ in Architectural Sustainability, but there are more factors to consider in the Green movement than ‘houses that pay for themselves.’

What I’ve seen so far that I’ve liked includes the Gable House, a structure built using ‘lamboo’ – laminated bamboo – and resources from condemned farms, to build a house.  What’s excellent about these two materials is that the first is rapidly renewable – bamboo is a grass and if improperly contained, becomes an invasive weed; and that the second is a reused resource – in essence, it’s good waste management.

Detractors say that liberal approaches to Green Architecture lead to a higher carbon footprint in that resources must be transported to a site to build, whereas more conservative approaches lead to less transport and building.  They also argue for conservation of culture – especially those interested in historical landmarks.  I don’t entirely disagree with them.  However, living in Colonial Williamburg, I will say that over- conservation eventually leads to marketed celebration and a biased viewpoint of history.  In other words, nostalgia, like all things, should be taken in moderation.

Now that I’ve poo-poo’d CW, I will laud it: several years ago, the Foundation switched over to less authentic electric candles.  Preservation is important, but only to a certain extent.  If the Colonies had had electricity, I’m sure they would have used it.  After all, history shows that eventually, they did.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that one need not build an entirely new building in order to produce a grand eco-site.  Especially those in theatre, who someitmes used condemned buildigns as playign spaces.  Theatre should act both as a conservative function of culture and a progressive one.  By using the old ways and the tried and true aspects of a culture, it can also act to fix problems within a given society.

Looking at that role, one can extrapolate the ideology to architecture.  Rather than destroying condemned sites to build new green spaces, one can modify a dilapidated space into a more useful and efficient site.  This allows for both progressive movements in architecture and culture as well as a preservation of history and a conservation and reuse of resources. Especially in the Theatre, this approach would allow organizations to make a sustainable home while still paying homage to their roots (or at least their patron houses).

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