INTBAU USA's 2009 symposium
INTBAU USA held a successful annual symposium at the TBEC conference in Baltimore on October 23, with detailed discussion of the current economic conditions, and what the trends suggest for the design and building environments in the future. We discussed a number of resources and opportunities now emerging. We also discussed the future of INTBAU and the USA chapter, and the desires of members for directions for the future. It was a very in-depth discussion, and a number of attendees expressed gratitude for the depth of the discussion.
Section I was on "defining the challenges," and was introduced by Clem Labine, publisher of Traditional Building magazine and chair of Restore Media. He discussed the "economic reset" under way, and the need for traditional designers and builders to take advantage of it. There is also a need for a "vocabulary reset" to shift the dialogue about heritage, from the negative perceptions that exist presently (gentrification, elitist, "boring," etc). And there is a need to build a stronger constituency for heritage, as witnessed by the incredible fact that no stimulus money was spent for historic properties ($55 million was in fact cut!)
Michael Mehaffy discussed the "new normal" in economics lack of credit, collapse of sprawl development, need for a green economy etc. The need to identify and champion existing research that shows the compelling benefits, and the great problems with a purely "green bling" approach -- and push that argument into the public discourse. And to commission additional research and an "evidence-based" approach, so that the true sustainability benefits of traditional design, building and heritage are recognized.
Mehaffy noted we will identify a series of emerging resources that can be used by attendees, and these are being assembled on the website www.tectics.com.
Steve Mouzon discussed the link between lovability and sustainability, and the other qualities of sustainable buildings, showing the link to traditional design. What is it that makes a building or place lovable at a local level, by local people? The patterns may come from elsewhere, but they are fitted to the need and unique characteristics of each place. And people will build mostly for themselves. That makes for tremendous variety, but within a narrow range, which establishes a unique local identity.
An extensive discussion period followed, where panelists discussed the qualities of local traditions, and how they embody sustainable characteristics repairability, by local people (providing local jobs, and a local economic "multiplier effect"); adaptability to new uses; use of locally available materials, often much more ecologically benign (e.g. stone, wood, brick, earth); ability to weather well; ability to endure and prove their ability to be cared for and re-used (as opposed to an experimentalist approach). Some attendees brought up the Secretary of the Interior standards and the problems with that; we discussed new thinking about the Venice Charter, including INTBAU's Venice Declaration of 2006.
Seabrook, Duncan McRoberts
After a lunch break, a number of presenters gave case studies of projects that are taking on various aspects of this challenge.
Kyriakos Pontikis showed his use of "generative pattern languages" to engage residents and students in the process of building, integrating design with building.
Selena Anders presented Krupali Uplekar's paper on new trends in ecological traditional architecture, from a global context of rapid urbanization, population growth and resource pressures.
Joanna Alimanestianu showed a project in rural Ecuador that combined local patterns with outside ones, and used permaculture concepts to achieve a much more benign, ecological rural development model. It also used Transect-based planning to create an "agricultural urbanism" pattern, seeking to meet ambitious social, economic and environmental objectives.
Denis Hector showed a project in Miami that restored an existing historic building and also added a compatible new building, establishing new boundaries in interpretation of the Secretary of the Interior standards.
Gersil Kay showed challenges of retrofits of clean energy systems, with a focus on lighting, and demonstrated how such retrofits can go wrong.
The attendees then gathered for a final discussion. The question was posed to attendees:
What advantages do you see in the global resources of INTBAU? What activities would you like to see developed or added?
- Mike Mehaffy
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