Thursday, July 12, 2012

Architectural Ranting.

Is it ironic that I'm an architect and yet I'm averse to the idea of development?

Yeah, it scares me. Driving through Jalan Ampang, being surrounded by high rise, and taking in the density of the development there, scares the crap out of me.

In the beginning of time, architecture serves merely as shelter, where people shelter themselves from the harsh weather and predators. Such were known to be the vernacular architecture. In those days nothing but natural resources like the earth, mud, wood or bamboo existed, so these vernacular architecture only used locally available material, taking ONLY what they need. Nothing more.

In addition to that, they did not use any energy (well, yeah, since it was not available back then, the apple hasn't fallen from the tree hitting someone's head), and only used passive means of cooling or heating or lighting. For this reason, such architecture were very context specific. The shape of the buildings in a region are the reflection of the locals' perception towards their environment, and as a reaction to their environment. For example, in hot and dry regions, they built tall structures made out of mud, with tiny windows built high up, complete with inner courtyard and ventilation chimney thing (I really couldn't recall the name. it's frustrating. It's shaped like a chimney, but isn't used for burning wood, only for ventilation), to allow for cooling. So, the buildings back then cater to the people's need within the limit of the environment. Nothing more, nothing less.

But along with modernization, industrial revolution and the increase of life style standards that follows, everything is made possible. Deep piling, high-rise structures made out of steel, materials shipped all the way from China to be used in new buildings. The sky is literally the limit. Such limitless possibilities of course causes the depletion of the earth resources. Illegal lumbering, cutting down mountains to get the best of marbles to be put into the most luxurious of designs, piling deep into earth to allow for majestic high rise structures, carbon emission from transporting the materials from overseas, CFC emission from air conditioning and heating because human is so determined to control the indoor environment, not realizing that their separation from natural environment is bad for them.

The earth is exhausted. It is old.

And yet we are so caught up in modernization, so determined to come up with design that outdoes the greatest of them all, with a complete disregard to the environment.

I cringe every time I see piling works being done. I cringe with every echoing pounding sound it makes to knock it further inside the earth.

I cringe whenever I see trees being chopped down, grassy area being cleared out to make space for new developments, whenever I see greens turning into brown dust.

I cringe whenever I drive through tunnels of highrise buildings, thinking of how much burden is put upon the earth in the name of construction.

I cringe seeing mountains and wood cut down to make some new materials we only use for the sake of luxury.

So yeah. Is it ironic that I'm an architect and I find development scary?

I don't think so.


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