Monthly Archives: May 2011

Design that Does Not Begin with Place

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In the middle of 2010, Keith Perske posted a compelling blog challenging the design field to think about work without our typical reliance on thinking about place.  I say, “AMEN”.

As an architect deeply concerned about the nature of work, I see places continually being created that are disconnected from the reality of what it now means to be “people” at work.  We have limited our thinking of “place” to the physical, and have not touched on the emotional, psychological, and inter-relationship that drive people to produce results in the context of their work.  Place is a subset of work, along with the parameters of technology, process, brand, economics, etc.  In combination, these parameters create demands of place that are simultaneously physical and virtual, but equal in social dynamics.

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Tunneling through the Cost Barrier might provide better spaces forpeople

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If you’ve been to a seminar on sustainable practices lately, you may have heard the popular concept that tunneling through cost barriers might provide better spaces for people. To my knowledge, the concept was popularized by Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins in their book, Natural Capitalism, more than 10 years ago.

Graph from 'Natural Capitalism' by Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins

So what does it mean? The simplest example that is often given is that of a residential house: you can buy better windows, more efficient insulation, and even take advantage of passive solar heating. With all of these improvements, you will eventually reach the point of diminishing returns when you are spending extra money to save energy on heating your home. The detour that now seems possible is that you can reach a point where you’ve so radically reduced the heating load that you can eliminate the furnace and its associated ductwork altogether.

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