Sustainable Design
Timeless Way of Building
Hi all.
Would anyone here like to share their opinion on timeless way of building? Or no building in this world appears to be timeless?

When we look at the building of ancient Greek, Roman, Renaissance and other heritages, it serves well in their time being a good building while a place for tourism for now. And the essence came from three which are climate, topography and culture.

In my opinion, the building cannot achieve timeless by itself alone, but it is the design process which is timeless.
J Lim
Timeless Way of Building
I am Omer Shujat Bhatti from CIIT ISlamabad, 4th year B.Arch student. I recently saw a movie on LOUIS I KAHN "My Architect". In that movie, another Architect I.M. Pei said about the Salk Institute of Louis Kahn to be a building that stood the test of time....its one that proves to be timeless when the soul or the feeling of it survives through the test of time and is always there even like 30 or 40 years since its should study that building.

Best of luck.

Omer Shujat Bhatti
Omer Shujat Bhatti
Timeless Way of Building
J Lim, a timeless building is one which has been designed within the context of environment, climate and culture and the design works so well that the life span of the materials is the only limiting factor.

This can mean that something built in stone will survive for a thousand years, but on the other hand, if something is built in less durable materials, like wood, then if the design is "timeless" then as the wood perished, people replaced the wood and even replaced and duplicated the original structure.

True, the concept of the design process is timeless, because any design process is evolutionary and is therefore not the creation of one person, but the accumulated thought of generations.
Frank John Snelling
Timeless Way of Building
This is an essay written by me concerning the above topic:

The three dimensions of timeless architecture
Towards a holistic approach to architecture

-Shuchita Jain

From the days when man scraped leaves together or scratched holes in the ground for the earliest shelters, lived in caves, to when he built the first brick and stone structures, the concrete towers of today - he has constantly sought for more and more physical comfort. Another continuing pattern in the history of mankind is his never-ending search for a perfect, everlasting living environment, which is yet to be defined explicitly. By his very nature, downplayed by his own successes he restlessly continues to dig the yet unexplored realms. Today, when I look through the past and try to sum up the components of perfect architecture, I begin to feel that humanity has already lived closest to the best. Simultaneously though, the optimist side of me tells me that the best is yet to come. Being a far more intelligent and experienced species, the 21st century man has finally begun to stop digging blindly and take a look back at the treasures he has left behind waiting to be picked up and spent. I am representing here the shiniest brightest/most remarkable pieces I am able to recognize, which, if put together the right way, could be the building blocks of our future utopia.
The civic in architecture. The contemporary city is globalized, heterogeneous, cosmopolitan, and socially mobile to a level unprecedented in history. The post-industrial urbanism is dominated by buildings being baked like cup cakes with the fancy trivial toppings to serve blatant commercial interests. When compared to the pre-industrial city, the public realm in the modern city has lost its institutional structure. The palace, fort, temple, mosque or a church, which formed the traditional city center have been replaced by the central business district. Lost are the places of spontaneous public interaction and festivities where one does not have to pay for entry. The mall seeks to replace the bazaar, the atrium seeks to replace the public street and square, and there is a growing presence of gated communities with an internalized public realm of restricted accessibility.

This trend brought about by unrestrained privatization of the construction industry has resulted in cities that lack an aesthetic cohesion so fundamental to the sophisticated arts of architecture and urban design. What we need is a revival of the time-tested traditional values and intrinsic logic of ancient city organization.

The ecological in architecture. Characteristic of the vernacular, creative imagination and the inventiveness of self-taught builders resulted in constructions which were most suitable for life, work and the environment. This was manifested not only in the appearance and floor plans of the buildings, but also in the external and internal functional, as well as artistically formed elements and details. By using materials found in the surroundings, the traditional architectural styles were specific to a given region giving due respect to its ecological integrity. However, with the industrial revolution followed by the modernist influence, this hand-made quality in architecture was discarded in favor of machine-finished synthetic building materials. Increasingly, man distanced from his immediate nature and began seeing himself as an all-powerful being with no relation or dependence on the world around him.
The spiritual in architecture. There is no doubt that the great art and architecture creations throughout history evolved in societies that drew their strength from cultural and spiritual traditions and from the places they belonged to. These sources, which one might take as the factor that separates cultures and peoples, are exactly the ones that link them together in harmony. Both large and small historic cities remain centers of cultural pilgrimage and regeneration for millions of contemporaries, who long for the enlightenment and the sensuous, spiritual pleasures of the good city. Now all traditional cities and towns are built according to the same principles of harmony and proportion, of scale and of measure, of organization and of structure, relating the math�sis of the urban artifact to that of the universe. On the other hand, the superficial interpretations and mindless deductions made by many modernists and contemporaries fueled their own whimsical visions about architecture that resulted in edifices of outstanding creativity but not a holistic work of unquestionable beauty. Traditional architecture and city-building have been acknowledged for the organization profoundly similar to fractals and chaos and logical incorporation of the knowledge about man and the universe. This knowledge was reflected in intricate details as well as the larger scheme of a structure giving rise to a spiritually charged form that was going to mesmerize man till eternity. According to Joel Primack, a cosmologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, modern society has failed to develop a unified world-view. The result, he says, is a pervasive sense of rootlessness and disorientation that causes many people to avoid contemplating their place in the universe and to focus instead on the trivial concerns of consumerism.
These three components: the civic, the ecological and the spiritual � are the most fundamental dimensions of a holistic and sustainable architecture, respectively connecting man with man, man with the Earth, and man with the Universe; grounding architecture in a timeless zone.

Presently, the modern city is an irreversible phenomenon consisting of numerous interlinked systems that cannot cease to exist. Automation, population explosion, technology dependency and consumerism are pressing realities of our times with both fortunate and unfortunate implications. The timeless way of building in the 21st century cannot be achieved simply by replicating the old, but has to be evolved by selective modifications upon the old. Architects and urban designers need to frequently go back in time to pick up meaningful references while applying them after updating their relevance in present contexts. Accordingly, what is required is a balanced mix of the traditional logic and contemporary intelligence; the soul of the past and the spirit of the present. Architecture should ideally be generated; grown from its roots, because growth is by nature sustainable. Abrupt dislocated formations are typical of ugly and wasteful weeds.

This essay was originally written in 2007 for an essay competition hosted by International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism ( INTBAU), while pursuing undergraduate studies at the D.C. Patel school of Architecture, A.P.I.E.D., Gujarat. The underlying theme of the competition was to invite opinion from students and practitioners in the field on New Architecture & Urbanism and promotion of traditional architectural intelligence. After certain reconstructions, the essay served towards my Thesis Orientation, and has continued to motivate my subsequent and future research intent.


 From Tree Dwellings To New Towns, by Philip Maguire (1962)
 The View from the Center of The Universe, by Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrama (2006)
 Essays, International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (I.N.T.B.A.U.)
 Paradigms of Indian Architecture, Space and Time in representation and Design,
by G.H.R. Tillotson (1998)
 The timeless way of building, Christopher Alexander (1979)
 A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander with Ishikawa and Silverstein (1977)
 The Architecture of the Jumping Universe: A Polemic: How Complexity Science is Changing Architecture & Culture, by Charles Jencks (1997)
Shuchita Jain
Timeless Way of Building
Shuchita, almost the only thing I would quibble with in your most interesting essay is the idea that we (humans) need a "unified world-view".

I can understand the need for a unified world-view because humanity needs to conserve our environment, but even this can be served from inside cultures and not imposed from outside.

Another point is that the cities of today are vast when compared to cities before the Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil-fuel power and it is because they are vast that the normal and usual traditions of culture and community fracture and splinter.

There is a reversion to divisions within the cities, but these divisions are an unpleasant modern development because in London these are made by immature, infantile, "knife-gangs" dividing the city by post code.

A few years ago I thought that when the PC (Personal Computer) became established in the fabric of everyday working life, then there would be no need for the mass transit of people into cities to work, because they could as easily work from home, but this has not happened and if anything may never happen, because of too many egos wanting skyscrapers in the city.

Then of course there is the social phenomena known as "the ratking" which is the habit of urban sewer rats to form large bundles of bodies, a social habit that is probably the reason for people congregating in unsustainable masses in cities.
Frank John Snelling


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