Design

Buildings are forever

Dietmar Eberle  

What can we contribute as architects to architecture, asked Dietmar Eberle, Principal and Co-founder of the architectural firm Baumschlager-Eberle, in his presentation at the InCITE Gallery recently.

Contending that architects should focus on the middle class where the goal is of urban development that addresses the well-being of majority of the society, Prof. Eberle spoke on how to use the scarce resources and create structures that remain relevant for a hundred years and not just two decades.

According to him, the key to long lasting buildings is social acceptance through aesthetics and not merely technical aspects. “The economic and ecological aspects make it difficult to destroy a building. The solution is hence to make them last long.”

To make buildings last long, key elements to be addressed are social acceptance by the public and the functional aspect of the building. Here, elements such as individual well-being, local background, goal, flexibility, construction methodologies, contribution to the site, environment, density of the development, resource efficiency as well as comfort need to be addressed.

Since each generation has different kinds of uses and expectations, the buildings should be designed to adapt to the varied uses of at least five generations, Eberle said. Here, he pointed to the design of open buildings to effectively offer solutions to this and ensure fewer resources are utilised.

Key factor

Density of the buildings and location is another key factor that Eberle pointed to be an influencing factor. Given the close link between land use and social relationship, the land use of each district, how often people move in and out, the quality of public and private space are elements that need to be gauged as the same have an effect on the atmosphere and social aspects.

That leads to the question: what is the correct density of a project? Eberle drew examples from various projects to elaborate this point. A mixed project in France, with both commercial and housing spaces, had huge blocks where each block was designed by different architects. The design was done to reach the density of the early 1900s, which is a tall order in current times.

Likewise, in one of his residential projects in Los Angeles, the density opted was dramatically low while there is extensive interaction with nature.

Eberle is also a key proponent of open buildings and flexible spaces where he advocates the formulation of spaces such that they are open to be adapted in multiple ways. “The changing cost of a building is major, hence you should be able to change the space with least cost and time,” he states.

As for efficiency in management of resources, Eberle contends that it is all about handling the outside and inside temperature and the materials used in the structure. He points to the university in Luxembourg which is 100 m high but is the first tall building that has no mechanical ventilation.

“Transmission loss of temperature should not be more than 20 to 25 per cent in a good building,” he contends. In yet another building in Austria where there is again no mechanical ventilation, the structure is so designed that it can be used effectively for 330 days in a year by sheer intelligent orientation to sunshine. “The building has its own light and ventilation and uses it efficiently,” he adds.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 2:32:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/design/buildings-are-forever/article6574603.ece

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